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Going Low Down Under

Aussie Hotels

This is not the outback, and you're not in Survivor. These are all first-class hotels, with a similar level of service.

Melbourne

The Como Melbourne
630 Chapel Street, South Yarra; 011-613-9825-2222 (mirvachotels.com.au). Studios: $296; Suites: $660.

The cozy Como Melbourne has rubber duckies in the bathtub and butler service around the clock. But it's also become a home away from home for guests who need to be plugged in. The Como was the first hotel in the world to introduce video-conferencing capability in every suite, and it's recently undergone a five million dollar face-lift. The sleek rooms are all fitted with a World Link telecommunications system featuring separate lines for phone, voice mail, fax/modem and ISDN. Total relaxation is also an option: Some of the larger suites have spa baths and private Japanese gardens.

Grand Hyatt Melbourne
123 Collins Street; 800-233-1234 (melbourne.hyatt.com). Rooms: from $166; Suites: from $197.

The glitzy Grand Hyatt is where top athletes, including Greg Norman and Anna Kournikova, stay when they're visiting. (The hotel's great gym may have something to do with it.) Situated in the heart of the central business district, it's the best location in town, and the staff loves to pull out little surprises not usually seen in big chain hotels. During the Melbourne Grand Prix, for example, housekeeping dispensed chocolates in the shape of Formula One cars.

Sydney

Establishment Hotel
1 Bridge Lane; 011-612-9240-3100 (merivale.com). Rooms: $150-$198; Suites: $457-$517.

The hot boutique hotel of the moment, on a little lane in the heart of Sydney. It's a bastion of chic, with bellboys dressed in funky uniforms, myriad bars and restaurants, and a happening private lounge with a sushi bar and cigar humidor. Accommodations are spare but elegant, with plenty of small indulgences, like Bulgari bath products, Bose CD units and high-end German television sets.

Park Hyatt Sydney
7 Hickson Road, The Rocks; 011-612-9241-1234 (sydney.hyatt.com). Rooms: $338-$364; Suites: $520.

The Park Hyatt has the most famous room views (and the highest guest return rate) in all of Australia. Just under the massive Harbour Bridge and directly opposite the Opera House, it's the only place to stay for visiting kings and entertainment royalty. Rooms have remote-control curtains, and some overlook the R.M.S. Bounty, the famous old tall ship bobbing in Circular Quay.

Quay Grand Suites Sydney
East Circular Quay, 61 Macquarie Street; 011-612-9256-4000 (mirvachotels.com.au). Suites: $267-397.

Across the Quay from the Park Hyatt, this spacious and handsome hotel is a favorite of families, with its oversize outdoor balconies that look out to the harbor on one side and the Royal Botanic Gardens on the other. The suites contain full kitchens, deep spa baths, CD players, washers/dryers, VCRs and in-house movies.

Queensland

Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas
Davidson Street, Port Douglas; 011-617-4099-5888 (sheraton-mirage.com). Rooms: $306-$410; Villas: $493-$596; Suites: $1,501.

The best hotel near Cairns has everything: a championship golf course, saltwater lagoons and several freshwater pools. A nearby shopping center has art galleries and souvenir shops. The hotel offers several restaurants, such as upscale Macrossans, and myriad room options, including villas on the Peter Thomson-designed links.

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