First published on 6 Aug 2008. Updated on 16 Mar 2012.
1 Soothe the Soul
tonic, Hunter Valley
More like your own piece of wine country than a hotel, tonic provides you privacy and relaxation - no awkward interactions with honeymooners or screaming children down the hall; this cleverly laid out retreat has private entry, huge bathrooms and tropical influences.
2 Spoon with a view
Valleyfield Escape, Wollombi
This beautifully appointed private villa is geared towards total relaxation. From the specially installed spoon bath overlooking olive groves to the heated bathroom floor and king-sized bed, you won't ever want to leave. A self-catered breakfast including Tetsuya's ocean trout and wood-fired bread is included in the price.
3 Rural retreat
Belgravia Cottage, Orange
Go against the grain and head west for a warm winter holiday. Set among the slow moving cattle and bristling vineyards of rural NSW, the cottage will keep you cosy and comfortable any time of year. Orange itself has excellent golf courses, and don't miss the monthly farmers market, dedicated to the town's excellent produce.
4 Lazy days
Tower Lodge, Hunter Valley
With everything you're looking for in a Hunter break within arms' reach. A golf course, sauna, heated swimming pool and restaurant are situated on its grounds - at the edge of the Tower Estate Winery.
5 Family time
The gorgeous environs of the south coast are often under-rated by heat-seeking Sydneysiders, but it's hard to go past this family friendly enclave with a kids' club for the youngsters and a day spa for the adults. Free tennis courts and easy access to the beach will give you plenty of fresh air.
6 Vision valley
Echoes Boutique Hotel, Blue Mountains
Bunk into a mountain retreat with open fireplaces, spa and sauna facilities and individually tailored rooms.
A great place to wind up a long day on the trail is the in-house restaurant, an attraction in itself, which overlooks the gorgeous sheer cliffs and leafy green of the rainforest in the surrounding Jamison Valley.
7 Halfway house
Links House, Bowral
The historic building and lush gardens are typical of the ornate, landscaped Southern Highlands - which could easily be mistaken for the scene of a novel penned by one of the Bronte sisters. Bang in the middle of Sydney and Canberra this is a great stopover point en route to the snow or an easy weekend escape.
8 Bind & unwind
The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa, Byron Bay
Whether you want to unwind and relax or indulge to excess, this five-star Byron resort has got you covered. Get started with complimentary morning yoga then head for the surf, the golf course or the al fresco restaurant. Other options? Rae's on Watego's or The Villas of Byron are both worth a google.
9 Make a splash
This could be Los Angeles in the 1980s, minus the riff raff of course. Watch the coastal sunshine fade slowly into candlelit evenings from your vantage point rugged up at the bar by the pool, cocktail in hand, then go for dinner at the excellent on-site restaurant.
10 Hidden wonder
Jonah's, Whale Beach
A commitment to preserving the pillars of privacy, luxury and seclusion has made this location a prime choice for international celebrities and local couples alike. Enjoy uninterrupted views of the ocean from your private balcony and all the features you'd expect from a five-star hotel, in a sparkling setting and a relaxed environment.
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