Perth has long been treated like the Australian stepchild that’s only part of the family because of its massive inheritance. It used to be cited as being boring, expensive and devoid of a cultural scene, but in recent years there has been a massive turnaround. The fine dining, luxury hotel and entertainment markets are booming and Perth is ready to receive the world.
It’s no secret that Perth is expensive, but then so are other Australian cities and yet they continue to have tourists pour in. The key problem with Perth used to be that the term “value for money” just didn’t exist; quality and service never equated to the amount people were forking out. But that’s starting to turn around for the better and there are some places in particular that are working hard to change the reputation. These places offer that which is the norm in the rest of the world but wasn’t quite in Perth: real luxury and excellent quality with top notch service that doesn’t leave you feeling ripped off. Most importantly they focus on being sustainable, organic and in highlighting all that encompasses WA.
If you’re visiting Perth and would like to be in the centre of the action yet maintain an adequate distance from the chaos, The Richardson Hotel and Spa is the place for you. Located just across from the iconic Kings Park this luxury boutique hotel manages to deliver a personalised experience even for first time visitors – you’ll be greeted by name by all the staff during your stay. Coffee lovers will be happy to find a Nespresso machine in their spacious bedrooms and art lovers will have plenty to occupy them with the hotel’s focus on West Australian artists. The Richardson is home to the only Espa Spa in Australia and also houses Opus, one of the best restaurants in Perth that has played a key role in turning around the city’s fine dining scene. The A$130 sixcourse degustation menu is worth every cent. The effort put in by the Opus team is evident and every morsel on your plate goes through a painstakingly intricate process. They’re generous with their portions and with the most precious ingredients, such as the treasured Manjimup truffles. That’s the team’s philosophy; don’t skimp on anything and offer diners the finest food for their money.
The city’s newest five-star offering, Fraser Suites, opened in May 2013 with 236 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The apartments are spacious and contemporary with daily housekeeping and a concierge service, as well as a swimming pool and 24-hour gym.
If you’re after something more romantic and indulgent head to the Brookleigh hotel in the Swan Valley, just outside the city. There are only two apartments within the main château so there are very few people other than you laying claim to the relaxing outdoor Jacuzzi, swimming pool and gardens. I stayed in the Lakeside apartment, which was massive and came with a gorgeous living room, kitchen, bedroom and giant balcony. The attention that had been paid to little things like the DVDs, the books and the vintage furniture made it feel rather like sleeping in the home of a very wealthy friend instead of a hotel. The Stewart Restaurant on the estate should not be missed – try the Asian duck salad, street food fine dining at its best.
Back in the city head to Rockpool Bar and Grill at Crown Perth spearheaded by chef Neil Perry. A popular name over on the east coast, the Perth edition opened in 2011 and does not disappoint – in fact it sets standards. The service is one that Perth restaurant goers had long given up hope for; impeccable, attentive and yet nonintrusive. The Glacier 51 Toothfish brought from the depths of the Antarctic onto our plates was by far the best piece of seafood I have ever eaten. There is a lot of focus on sourcing ingredients locally and you can taste the difference when you bite into dishes like the free range Mt Barker chicken with butternut pumpkin and bread salad. You know a place is doing it right if they can have mushy peas that blow your mind on the menu. The prices are only a couple of dollars more than what you would pay at many run of the mill Perth restaurants, yet the experience is many times more memorable.
Perth is on the cusp of global exposure as it becomes a great city with a world-class luxury offering. Pack your bags and head west.