Brisbane is booming. The Queensland capital — once best-known for its soap operas — is reinventing itself thanks to recent cash injections: new projects include a cross-river railway, a cruise terminal and brand new citywide developments, including rebuilt waterfronts along the Brisbane River. All of a sudden, this is a place you want to see: cruise the river, abseil the cliffs at Kangaroo Point, or enjoy Australia’s only inner-city, manmade beach at South Bank.
As for the city’s hotel scene, it’s following suit with an astonishing number of new openings in the past year alone. Properties are mushrooming amid shopping precincts and revamped districts; mixed-use buildings are coming to the fore, with hotels sharing space with hip local brands. You’ll find slick city pads rather than small independents here; but all come with a sunny side of Brissie personality. Think vibrant and stylish — a reflection of the city itself.
The Calile Hotel
Deep in the nightlife and fashion hotspot of Fortitude Valley, The Calile opened in September. The work of local architects Richards & Spence — who designed Brisbane Airport as well as a host of cafes and shops around the city — its modern concrete frame looms over James Street in the heart of the shopping area. Inside, the 175 rooms have cork floors and headboards, balconies (depending on category) and calm oak furniture, while scions of the local food and drink scene are behind the bar and in the kitchen. There’s also a long pool cantilevered above the ground floor shops. Doubles from £154, room only.
The original Emporium in Fortitude Valley is one of Queensland’s best-known hotels, but its sibling, which opened in July, is hot on its heels. Beds have six-inch toppers and glass walls overlook the Brisbane River. Doubles from £168, room only.
Also on James Street, The Sage offers a chauffeur service, free access to a nearby gym and professional-level swimming pool. The vibe is business boutique, with marble-swirled bathrooms and photomural walls behind the seriously comfy beds. Doubles from £74.
The sassy W, which opened in August, has rooms ranging from ‘Wonderful’ to ‘Spectacular’ — the style is uniformly zany. The lobby’s painted in bright colours and even the check-in desks glisten in glitzy chrome. Doubles from £220, room only.
With just 50 rooms, Hong Kong-based Ovolo overhauled this 1930s house in April last year. Rooms are playful, with bold patterned carpets and artwork on the headboards, while freebies include breakfast, happy hour and minibar for those who book direct. Doubles from £99, B&B.
Published in the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)