By George, luxury Antarctica sans blizzards

WEDGED between original Georgian sandstone warehouses in Hobart, the boutique Salamanca Wharf Hotel quietly opened its doors on Christmas Eve. In Castray Esplanade, an extension of Salamanca Place, the popular and leafy Princes Park is at the back of the building.

The 22-room hotel's interiors reflect the city's long-held ties to Antarctica (Hobart is home to the largest population of Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientists in the world). Rooms showcase photographs of the frozen continent by adventurer Laurent Dick, and burnt-orange-coloured curtains are a shade of the Aurora Australis.

Tasmanian wood and their fascinating patterns are also on show, with blackheart sassafras bedheads and myrtle tables in all rooms, from queen-bed studios to the loft penthouses. Two penthouses have a bathtub in the bedroom.

At ground level, cafe Castray Esplanade Food and Wine also provides in-room hotel dining, and there's a breakfast beer on the menu. The hotel is about 150 metres from Salamanca and the just-opened Nant Whisky Bar, which features the country's only highland single-malt whisky, produced in Tasmania's central highlands.

Queen studios costs from $225 a night. See www.salamancawharfhotel.com.au.

Michelin man serves it up

ANOTHER boutique Tasmanian hotel and food establishment drawing attention is Villa Howden, which is a 15-minute drive from Hobart, given its recent addition of South African-born chef Terry Clark.

Clark, who has worked in the Michelin-starred Foliage restaurant at London's Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and as head chef at the National Gallery of Victoria, says he has embraced the hotel's location on the road to the Huon Valley (and closeness to producers such as Bruny Island Cheese).

The villa is furnished with the owner's antique Parisian mirrors and Korean rugs, has multiple lounging areas in the piano bar, a library and a sunroom that overlooks North West Bay. There are 10 suites, with

wi-fi throughout, as well as a heated indoor swimming pool and lawn aplenty for a game of croquet or petanque.

Villa suites cost from $345 a night and include gourmet breakfast daily and minibar. See www.villahowden.com.au.

Tassie's Arthurian legend

ALSO in Hobart, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom luxury pod was lifted onto a

nine-storey city office block on January 21. Avalon City Retreat, in Macquarie Street, is set to open in March.

The retreat has king-size beds, a Huon pine dining table with room for 10 guests and a rooftop outdoor area with a barbecue and bath. Getting there is a journey in itself. After rising seven floors by lift, guests then take 24 stairs to the front door. Staff will carry your bags.

It's the sister property to the "glass house" of Avalon Coastal Retreat, near Swansea overlooking Great Oyster Bay on the state's east coast.

The city retreat, which sleeps up to four people, costs from $880 a night. See avaloncoastalretreat.com.au.

Elsewhere, boutique hotel the Islington has undergone a gentle facelift. Its 11 rooms have new paint, furnishings and art. The property was built in 1847 and was one of the first houses in Hobart's dress circle.

See www.islingtonhotel.com.

Send Room Service items to jreddy@fairfaxmedia.com.

Jane Reddy stayed courtesy of Tourism Tasmania.

The story By George, luxury Antarctica sans blizzards first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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