WHERE TO STAY: In Melbourne, opt for the Adelphi Hotel, known for its rooftop pool that cantilevers over the building’s facade, or the Rialto Hotel on Collins, set in two converted 19th-century buildings. In Sydney, the Shangri-La, Park Hyatt and Four Seasons are worthy splurges. To save dollars, the Russell Hotel in the Rocks, the historic district where Sydney’s first settlers landed, is comfortable and charming. On Hamilton Island, stay on the island’s secluded northern tip in your own super-luxe one-bedroom pavilion with a petite, private plunge pool at Qualia. Two open-air restaurants with fare by head chef Stephane Rio are exclusive to Qualia guests. The Whitsunday Holiday Apartments and the Beach Club are less expensive, still romantic options on the island with airy rooms that have balconies that open onto Catseye Beach and the azure Coral Sea. Book Reefsleep for an unforgettable night on a barge docked in the middle of the sea; a four-person crew is at your disposal should you want to snorkel or venture out in the glass-bottomed boat, and an alfresco dinner and breakfast are served on deck.
WHAT TO PACK: You’ll need clothes for the city and the beach, and for chilly to tropical weather. Bring lots of layers plus comfortable walking shoes for Sydney and Melbourne. One or two fancy-dinner ensembles should be adequate. (Leave room in your luggage for new clothes, as Melbourne is a hotbed of fashion design.)
BEST TIMES TO GO: Think backwards: Their winter is our summer and vice versa, and the farther south you go in Australia, the colder it gets. The best months for an east coast trip are August, September and October, when it’s still mild in the south and when the humidity, rains and jellyfish haven’t yet come to Queensland. Bonus: The calm waters around Hamilton Island are home to whales and their calves in August and September. Airfares are generally
lowest from mid-April through August.
NEWLYWED NEWS: Many hotels offer romance packages; check with them when booking to see what’s available.
GETTING THERE: Flying time totals between 20 and 24 hours. Fly to Los Angeles on any major airline, then fly direct to Sydney or Melbourne on Quantas.
ROMANCE RATING: Swings from Two to Four Hearts, depending on place.