Holiday at home in Sydney: travel news

Holiday at home
Staycations – holidays in your home town – are the thing to do right now. Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks is rolling out its new premium hotel rooms and club lounge following an $8 million makeover. The largest of the 90 Horizon Club rooms and suites is the two-bedroom, 242-square-meter royal suite, which includes butler and grand piano, from $4895 a night. Those staying in the Horizon rooms should make tracks to the Horizon Club Lounge, opening December 8. The four-storey atrium looks out to our best-loved icons; the harbour, the Bridge and the Opera House. Horizon club rooms start from $400 a night, which includes private check-in, breakfast, afternoon tea, canapés and cocktails. If you’re not checking in, head up to the Blu Bar on level 36 for the best water views in town. Se

Get-around sound
Pack the party in your pocket with the MiniJamBox from US wearable technology company Jawbone. Using Bluetooth, pair the petite speaker and speakerphone with any phone, laptop iPod or tablet in a 10-meter radius, without cumbersome cables. 

No Bluetooth? Hook up with a simple headphone jack. A full charge takes 2.5 hours, but then gives you up to 10 hours’ sound, be it your favourite playlist, movies or phone calls. Weighing in at a lightweight 255g and 25x15cm, the MiniJamBox travels lightly and comes in nine colours, with five different designs pressed into the aluminum shell and is compatible with both Android and iOS platforms. The Mini Jambox costs $179.95. See

Well knotted in Istanbul style
Canny travellers know that scarves are the easiest way to transform your travel wardrobe from drab to fab, and the new scarf from the St Regis hotel group is fabulous, indeed. Designed by Michelle Obama’s go-to man, the Taiwanese-Canadian designer Jason Wu, this limited edition collection is inspired by Istanbul, now the hottest city on the planet. The 100 per cent silk scarf comes in three colourways, blue, beige and Wu’s signature grey. The scarf has been released just ahead of the opening of the new St Regis Istanbul in February 2015, an 118-room hotel is set in Nişantaşi, with views over the Bosphorus. The Grand Tourista Scarf costs US$195. See or

The Royal Opera House at night ©Stephen McLaren
Live London large
Do London in style with afternoon tea at Lord's Cricket Ground with butler Carson from Downton Abbey (but you can call him Jim Carter), a backstage tour of the Royal Opera House with ballerina Darcey Bussell, a wander through the Science Museum with Professor Stephen Hawking or Michelin-starred meal by chef Jason Atherton at happening Pollen Street Social. London is searching the world for a Guest of Honour to share these experiences with celebrity guides. Hurry, you’ve got until December 9 to enter the search for London’s Official Guest of Honour. See

Easy festive time
If this Christmas is already a write-off, start planning a serene escape for 2015 with a Christmas river cruise through Europe’s most festive towns. APT’s new brochure offers winter sailings in Canada and Europe, including a 10-day Christmas Time Cruise from Prague to Budapest. The itinerary includes the world’s largest Christmas market in Nuremberg, the Old Kornmarkt Christmas market in medieval Regensburg and Vienna, which is not shy of a bauble or two. There are five departures in November, when the Christmas markets are already up and running, and eight in December. Book cruises departing December 17 or December 21 if planning to spend Christmas Day on the ship. The fleet will include the new AmaSonata, launched this year, and its sister ship the AmaPrima, launched in 2013. The 10-day cruise costs from $4545 a person, twin share, includes two nights in Prague and eight days on board.  Call 1300 196 420, see  

Little Luggage
Your kids will be the smartest travellers in the land with these hard-shell luggage sets. The lightweight wheeled suitcase has elastic straps inside to hold gear and a zip pouch for games and books and measures 41cm x 29cm. The hard-shell backpack has adjustable straps and a divider, and stacks onto the suitcase to be wheeled together. And if your travelling tot tires, the suitcase handle extends to adult height – lucky you! Designed in Australia, there are 12 themes including the dinosaur and newest release, the ballerina. The two-piece set costs $129.95. Call 1300 746 722, see


Edited by Belinda Jackson, Takeoff is published in the Sun-Herald's Traveller section every Sunday.

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