Ciara McDonnell has the lowdown on this season’s top movies – and the destinations they showcase.
LA LA LAND
Nominated for a staggering 14 Academy Awards, La La land tells the age old tale of someone following their dreams in the City Of Angels.
Located on Sunset Boulevard, at the end of Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Hills Hotel is the quintessential Hollywood hotel.
Built in 1912, the Pink Palace has seen everyone from Fred Astaire (who loved to lie by the pool reading the Hollywood Reporter) to Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor take refuge from the public eye in its luxurious surroundings.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously hid in one of the hotel’s bungalows for a week during the 1970s, and the hotel provided the cover art for the Eagles’ smash hit Hotel California.
These days, the hotel remains a favourite of celebrities and the super rich, with many still seeking the privacy that the hotel’s pool and surroundings provides for an afternoon playing hooky from the paparazzi.
If Irish expats like Donal Skehan are to be believed, there is quite simply no better place to breakfast in LA than Egg Slut ( www.eggslut.com ).
With a menu based entirely around fried egg sandwiches, hipsters are enthralled by gooey egg teamed with fillers like crispy bacon and melted cheese, encased in a freshly baked brioche bun.
To lunch like the stars of La La land, then check out Sweetgreen ( www.sweetgreen.com ), a build-your-own grain bowl joint that caters to the culinary whims of those watching what they eat.
Aussie chef Curtis Stone remains the darling of LA’s restaurant scene, and his latest offering Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant ( www.gwenla.com ) does just what it says on the tin - cooks amazing meat.
Gwen is a major hit with the protein-obsessed in the city, not least because it also comes with an exceptionally good cocktail list.
It is important to note that people in Los Angeles go to bed early.
It is not unknown for a bar to empty out at 10.30pm, to allow for enough shut-eye before a 6am SoulCycle class. They hit cocktail hour hard and heavy, and often while it’s still bright.
For true celebrity spotting, hit the bar at Chateau Marmont ( www.chateaumarmont.com ), where the likes of Johnny Depp, Lindsay Lohan and Benicio Del Toro can be seen knocking back some vintage spirits.
Katsuya Hollywood ( www.katsuyarestaurant.com ) is a sushi restaurant that has a bar tucked away at the back, which welcomes celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and her pals when they want to enjoy a watermelon margarita or two.
The Warwick ( www.warwickla.com ) is as Hollywood as they come, offering stiff cocktails and a bouncer with a red velvet rope on the door.
Aer Lingus runs direct flights from Dublin to LAX on a year round basis. www.aerlingus.com
Based on the true story of Tasmanian Saroo Brierley’s search for his birth parents, Lion showcases the rugged beauty of Tasmania.
Located just 12km from Hobart, Mona Pavilions offers an otherworldly introduction to Tasmania.
The hotel is divided up into eight pavilions, which sit on a private peninsula overlooking the Derwent River.
Rooms feature double spa baths, contemporary bespoke furniture by Tasmanian designers, furnishings from designers including Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquiola and Ron Arad, and state-of-the-art kitchens.
Each has a private cellar stocked with Moorilla wines and Moo Brew beer and access to the heated infinity pool, sauna and gymnasium.
Mona is home to Australia’s largest private museum, and as well as having free access to the museum, guests can choose to have their choice of imagery from the private collection streamed into their bedrooms.
This is accommodation on an extremely luxury scale. mona.net.au
As one of the culinary jewels in Australia’s crown, Tasmania has long been celebrated for its food produce, but more recently, the island has begun to sprout a food culture that is getting recognition countrywide.
Book a lunch cruise with Peppermint Bay ( www.peppermintbay.com.au ), which will take you for a spin on a 23 metre catamaran before depositing you at The Stackings Restaurant at Peppermint Bay where you will enjoy a lunch of freshly caught seafood and local wine.
Be sure to book dinner at The Source restaurant at Mona Pavilions, even if you don’t sleep there. The restaurant offers some of the most forward thinking dishes in Tasmania, in ridiculously picturesque surroundings.
While food and art may be the centrepiece of Hobart’s cultural scene, there are lots of places that serve fantastic drinks and plenty of people watching opportunities.
The Observatory Bar (www.observatorybar.com.au) has both harbour views and an extensive cocktail list, making it one of the most popular spots for pre-dinner drinks.
After dinner, catch a live band at the Vue Bar at the Custom House Hotel.
Abbey Travel offer trips to Hobart on a year-round basis. www.abbeytravel.ie
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Indie hit Manchester-By-The-Sea is a hard-hitting drama set in coastal New England.
Nantucket is the undisputed star of New England. White whitewashed clapboard buildings and cutesy stores dotting the streets, it is a haven for glamorous people looking to escape city life.
The Cottages & Lofts at The Boat Basin offers self-catering cottages set overlooking the harbour, which are decked out with all mod-cons, countered by painted wooden floors and patterned curtains.
Take breakfast at the property’s sister hotel The White Elephant, which is a leisurely stroll from the harbour.
Nantucket is well known for fantastic food served in super cosy settings. Catering to those who have a palate used to high-end eateries, restaurants here focus on good food, served simply. Black Eyed Susan’s ( www.black-eyedsusans.com ) is a case in point.
Boasting a rugged interior, this restaurant may appear to be on a par with more usual American diners, but patrons travel far and wide to brunch here. Be sure to order the buttermilk pancakes and huevos rancheros.
The Boarding House ( www.boardinghousenantucket.com ) is one of the longest running restaurants in Nantucket. It specialises in farm-to-table produce served in hearty portions, and features an adjacent bar that is hugely popular after sundown.
Nightlife in Nantucket varies widely, from civilised cocktails on a terrace to raucous live music. Start your evening at Millies ( www.milliesnantucket.com ), where drinks flow and seats are aplenty.
After dinner, take a taxi to The Chicken Box ( www.thechickenbox.com ); a dive bar located just outside town, which showcases the best live music, the area has to offer.
The Box gets extremely busy after eleven, so prepare to queue if you arrive at a late hour.
WOW airlines will be flying from Cork to Boston from May 19, and from there you can get a direct ferry to Nantucket.
Norwegian Air has also just announced low fare routes beginning at €69 direct from Cork, Shannon and Dublin from July.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song, Moana tells the story of demi-god Maui, pulled from myths taken from the islands of Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa and Tahiti.
The stately, colonial Moana Surfrider hotel in Waikiki, a beachfront suburb of Honolulu, may have been established in 1901, but thanks to a $21 million facelift it is more youthful than ever.
With 536 rooms and a location right on Waikiki beach, taking morning coffee on your bedroom veranda is quite simply paradise.
Often referred to as the First Lady of Waikiki, this hotel is ideally placed to serve as the starting point for anyone who wishes to delve into the cultural heritage of Hawaii.
Do not pack your fancy dinner clothes to eat out in Honolulu. The restaurants here are super relaxed, focusing on fresh and delicious food, served in an ultra casual environment.
Town ( www.townkaimuki.com ) is one of Honolulu’s most popular restaurants, changing menus daily based on seasonal produce.
The ethos here is finding the quickest route to get food from the earth to the plate to the stomach, so expect simple food, presented in an amazing fashion.
Don your flip-flops and head straight to the Barefoot Bar at Dukes ( www.dukeswaikiki.com ). Named after Duke Kahanamoku, the Hawaiian father of international surfing, this beachfront bar flies daily with reggae beats and bikinis aplenty.
RumFire at the Sheraton ( www.rumfirewaikiki.com ) is a place for the upmarket to do ‘casual’. Think frosted cocktails, fire pits and cosy blankets to snuggle up to after dark.
If it’s a traditional Hawaiian experience you are after then check out Arnold’s Beach Bar ( www.arnoldswaikiki.com ), which claims to be the last original tiki bar in Waikiki, and hosts live music every afternoon.
Ebookers and Trailfinders offer competitive flight and accommodation packages to Hawaii, flying from Dublin.
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