Stephanie Holmes has had a remarkable year in Travel, travelling to various locations in 10 countries, as well as many New Zealand weekends away. Here are her top picks from a year on the road ... and in the air.

Best hotel: Efendi, Acre, Israel

Two ancient houses were reconstructed and merged over a period of eight years, restoring original features such as colourful ceiling frescoes and a 400-year-old Turkish bath. Think natural light-filled, roomswith high ceilings and views ofthe Mediterranean ocean and nearby mosques. Calls to prayer float on the breeze as you watch the sunsetfrom the rooftop bar. Absolute perfection.

Stephanie Holmes at the Efendi Hotel's roof top bar, in Acre, Israel.
Stephanie Holmes at the Efendi Hotel's roof top bar, in Acre, Israel.

Best bed: Four Seasons Boston

Like being enveloped in a hug from a fluffy, white cloud. Divine.

Best flight: Emirates — Auckland to London

Flying to the other side ofthe world is usually a drag.Notwhen you're in the comfort of Emirates Business Class cabin however. Excellent service, high-quality food and wine, and a comfortable, lie-flat bed made this 26-hour marathon actually pretty enjoyable.


Best in-flight food: Qatar Airways

I flew Economy Class on the world's longest flight from Auckland to Doha (more than 17 hours), then Business Class on the way back. In both classes, the food was delicious and there was plenty of it. Highlights included chicken in Catalan sauce with yellow rice, an Arabic mezze platter and a cream cheese omelette.

Best airport lounge: Cathay Pacific's The Pier at HKIA

The Pier, Cathay Pacific's Business Class lounge at Hong Kong International Airport's Terminal 1. As well as showers and plenty of space, there's also a Chinese teahouse, noodle bar and a relaxation room. A haven oftranquility—words not always associated with airports.

Best restaurant: Long Chim, Perth

In Perth's beautifully restored State buildings, you'll find innovative Asian flavours, mind-blowing cocktails and a cool atmosphere. Highly recommended.

Bestbar: Cocktail bar Massimo, Korcula, Croatia

An open-air bar on top ofthe turret of a 15th century Old City fortification,where the drinks arrive by basket and pulley system and the views are of islands, super yachts and sunsets.

Best tour: A Walk Thru Harlem

Walking around the streets of Harlem with living hip-hop legend Grandmaster Caz was the best way to begin three days in New York City. You can read about it in Travel next year.

Best destination: A dead heat

Borneo for adventure; Fiji'sDolphin Island for luxury; Croatia for its pristine seas; Israel and France for their food, culture and history. I'll stop showing off now ...

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