Brisbane has a luxurious new lease on life, with a host of five-star hotels opening their doors in the last twelve months. We round-up and break-down the hot, high-end newcomers to the Brisvegas accommodation scene…
Seemingly all of a sudden, Brisbane has a string of brand new luxury hotels on the scene. From the city to the Valley and Southbank, choose from brand-spanking-new-builds or older hotels transformed into high-end havens, globally-recognised luxury hotel brands or boutique treasures. But the question is, which one deserves your reservation? It’s a First World problem, but one well worth exploring.
24 new hotels and more than 1200 hotel rooms have opened, on average, each year in Brisbane in the past four years, and the latest International Visitor Survey has proven the demand for hotel beds is not easing up. In the 12 months to December 2016 the city of Brisbane welcomed an all-time high number of international visitors, at 1.159 million – a 25 per cent increase in international tourists to the river city since 2012.
Largely a result of Brisbane City Council’s hotel incentive delivering infrastructure reductions for four and five-star hotel developers, Brisbane Lord mayor Graham Quirk said the record tourism numbers were “due to Brisbane’s ever-growing international profile, combined with a world-class major events calendar and an increase in quality hotel supply.”
He added that there was an occupancy rate average in Brisbane of about 76 per cent, compared to 71 per cent nationally, and that the 2014 G20 World Leaders Summit launched Brisbane on the world stage.
“Since I announced an incentive to attract new hotels to Brisbane, hotel supply has grown by 4,200 rooms, with 17 new hotels and a further 10 under construction. These new hotels alone are contributing an additional 2,000 jobs to the city and allowing us to attract major world-class events, which previously our hotel supply did not allow,” he said.
And Brisbane is not alone. Australia as a whole is undergoing an era-changing tourism transformation, with a new wave of ‘lifestyle hotels’ entering the market in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Hobart.
But enough of the stats, where’s the luxury at in Brisbane? Where isn’t the luxury, is probably the better question. Here’s where to stay on your next sojourn in Brisvegas…
Stay here for: All the bells and whistles and the biggest rooms in the city
Located on Grey Street, Brisbane, within the AUD$600 million Southpoint precinct by Anthony John Group, Emporium Hotel South Bank is where you’ll want to stay for the ‘wow’ factor, with some seriously impressive bells and whistles.
Absolutely no expense has been spared here, with the ‘entry level’ room size positively suite-feeling in size – the average room size here is 43 square metres – as well as in the design and in-room amenities. The 143-room hotel feels big enough for you to float in and float out unnoticed, if you prefer to be left alone when you travel, and small enough to feel intimate.
Emporium Hotel Southbank features incredibly high-end interiors and finishes, 24-hour in-suite dining, a grand ballroom for up to 350 people, three purpose-built boardrooms, and the jewel in the crown – a spectacular rooftop 23-metre infinity edge pool and super contemporary bar complete with ‘disco’, pulsating, under-lit Onyx flooring and a magnificent north easterly aspect over South Bank Parklands, the Brisbane River and CBD.
For those willing to splash out, there is also a limited number of 50sqm – 70sqm premier suites available, including three Poolside Cabana Suites, with direct access to the pool deck along with a front patio and seating to relax and enjoy the panoramic city and river views.
Located on the highest levels of the hotel, the spacious Emporium Suites boast 2.7-metre high ceilings, spacious walk-in wardrobe/dressing area with a large makeup vanity with oversized LED lit mirror, a unique storage space (tall enough to hang a wedding dress), a handmade bronze bar with seating for three people, a full-bottle Eurocave wine fridge, mini-bar, 55-inch mirror finish LED television, Bose Soundbar, king-size bed, and private balcony with seating to take in the impressive views.
The Suites’ ensuites have double marble showers with both handheld and rain shower heads, a white marble double vanity and separate toilet, as well as a 32-inch mirror television, which can be enjoyed while soaking in the free-standing bath, again complete with with river and city vistas.
Premier suite guests also enjoy complementary access to the hotel’s inner-city transfer service in a brand-new Maserati Levante, and because the pool closes at 10pm, this means any guests staying in the Cabana Suites have the rooftop pool for themselves for the night.
Rooftop party, anyone?
Location: James Street Precinct, Fortitude Valley
Stay here for: Millennial-friendly design and a relaxed, lifestyle-focused vibe
The Calile Hotel has just opened its doors proclaiming the title of ‘Australia’s first urban resort’ in Brisbane’s new design and fashion hub, James Street Precinct. Expect an award-winning restaurant, cocktail bar, day spa, a string of fashion boutiques lining its ground floor and direct access to new dining pocket, Ada Lane, which adjoins the hotel.
Designed by Brisbane architects Richards & Spence to meld with the leafy, landscaped facades the pair also created for the new James Street Precinct, The Calile’s leisure facilities are designed to help guests embrace the authentic charm of Brisbane’s sub-tropical locale.
Its lobby features indoor hanging gardens and a cocktail bar, and a flagship Greek restaurant, Hellenika, is the spot to be on balmy summer days, opening out onto a 600 square metre pool terrace complete with poolside cabanas where you can dine under the stars.
One of Australia’s top wellness and spa facilities, KAILO Wellness Medispa, is positioned on the pool deck level, boasting 10 treatment rooms and offering cosmedical procedures along with holistic wellness treatments. The hotel also offers personal training to hotel guests and local members in its boutique gym space, Forme Fitness.
An embodiment of Australia’s new wave of ‘lifestyle hotels’ that includes Sydney’s The Old Clare and Paramount House Hotel, Perth’s Alex Hotel and Tribe Hotel, and Melbourne’s United Places Botanic Gardens (and plenty more coming onto the scene), The Calile’s ground floor on James Street will also feature a series of flagship stores from some of Australia’s most sought-after fashion labels including Dion Lee, Bassike and Bec & Bridge, while the buzzing restaurants of Ada Lane are right next door to the hotel.
The Calile has 175 guest rooms, including nine suites and two premier suites, each with an individual balcony, Bluetooth sound bar, motorised blackout blinds, 55” flat screen television and complimentary new-release movies.
A hot contender for your next luxury escape or staycation in Brisbane.
Location: North Quay
Stay here for: Facilities galore and a modern and fun urban immersion
When the W Brisbane opened on 1st June 2018 it marked the brand’s re-entrance into the Australian market, ten years after the W Sydney in Woolloomooloo closed.
Delivering that signature high-octane W aesthetic, the new luxury property in the heart of the city mixes fast-paced urban style and modern design with a decidedly cheeky Aussie point of view.
Its luxurious and eclectic interior, designed by renowned Australian interior design agency, Nic Graham & Associates, focuses on the theme of ‘A River Dreaming’ in an ode to the hotel’s position on the banks of the Brisbane River and Brisbane’s famed arts precinct.
The design and ambience won’t be to everyone’s taste, but you can’t say it’s not fun and a stay here will inject any weary business traveller with an energy boost, and get those leisure travellers into holiday mode quick smart.
That quintessential rule-bending, W attitude is found in decisions like abandoning the age-old, traditional hotel lobby in favour of a Welcome Desk and Living Room, and a more upbeat rather than zen-style spa that plays custom tunes and features relaxation pods, vitality pools, His and Hers salt inhalation chambers and aromatherapy steam rooms in addition to the expected top-notch spa treatments. Need a haircut? One of Australia’s best hair salons, Edwards And Co., is also on-site to preen, primp and pamper.
The 312 guestrooms including 32 luxury suites all enjoy river views, state-of-the-art technology, a W MixBar, signature W bed and W’s Whatever/Whenever service. Energise at FIT gym or cool off at WET Deck with a dip in the pool and a cocktail from the bar, then head to the Living Room Bar for more pre-dinner cocktails followed by dinner at onsite, renowned Australian restaurant Three Blue Ducks.
Location: Fortitude Valley, City
Stay here for: Plenty of perks and a design-focused, boutique vibe
What was once the Emporium Hotel has become Ovolo The Valley, having opened in December 2018 in Fortitude Valley following Ovolo’s purchase of the building and subsequent $55 million investment.
Ovolo is on a roll in Australia, having taken over the old Blue / W site in Woolloomooloo, and opening new hotels in Darling Harbour in Sydney, Spring Hill in Brisbane and Canberra so quickly they are seemingly everywhere, all of a sudden and without warning.
So who is Ovolo? A little like W and a little like QT, but with a more rustic, urban and decidedly youthful, Millennial edge, every Ovolo hotel has its own unique personality and style, and is inspired by its local surroundings, culture and heritage, with Ovolo The Valley no exception. Inspired by the eclectic culture and iconic history of Fortitude Valley, Ovolo The Valley draws guests into a whimsical oasis of colour, art, and surprising hints of quirk in a style that is becoming Ovolo’s signature, while its boutique-and-design focus now a winning formula.
Designed by acclaimed global architecture firm Woods Bagot, who are behind the revitalisation of Brisbane’s Howard Smith Wharves – which is also the site of a new Art Series hotel, set to open next year – and The Ivy in Sydney, the interior design for the new hotel’s 103 rooms focuses on creating a whimsical oasis for guests, replete with playful and colourful elements and commissioned art pieces, including custom wallpaper and eccentric furniture and illustrations.
Guests can look forward to 24-hour room service, large, flat screen televisions, Google Chromecast, additional wall plugs, phone chargers in rooms, and Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice service. There is also a rooftop swimming pool, gym, sauna, meeting rooms and Ovolo’s signature standard inclusions – free breakfast, free WiFi, free in-room mini bar, free laundry and free happy hour drinks. That’s a lot of freebies, making the Ovolo The Valley a hot option for those wanting more bang for their buck.
Art Series Hotel, Howard Smith Wharves
Location: Boundary Street, City
Stay here for: Experiencing Brisbane’s newest culture and dining hub
Art Series’ 164-room The Fantauzzo opened in March 2019 in Brisbane’s historic Howard Smith Wharves.
The five-star hotel is named after Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo and features up to 500 reproductions of the artist’s most recognised works, four distinct food and beverage outlets and a rooftop pool and bar, among other offerings. Needless to say, it focuses on Australian art and design in the vein of the group’s other hotels such as Melbourne’s The Olsen and The Cullen and Brisbane’s The Johnson.
With a position at the bend of the Brisbane river beneath the Story Bridge and riverside cliffs, the 3.4-hectare, heritage-listed Howard Smith Wharves in the Brisbane CBD is becoming Brisbane’s newest entertainment and lifestyle destination, transforming the land that has laid dormant since the 1960s and potentially redefining event, tourism, leisure, and food experiences in Queensland’s capital.
More than 80% of the site has been allocated as public space for the community, with 500 metres of river edge, abundant green spaces, urban agriculture, dynamic cliff lighting, and theatre-like public seating, and this community precinct will be used for exhibitions, meetings, conferences, and special events.
The waterfront dining precinct offers an array of dining options by Australia’s most respected chefs and restaurateurs, as well as a bakery, coffee roastery and on-site brewery Felons Brewing Co.
Having opened in late 2018, the Howard Smith Wharves project is just one in a long list of commercial projects and developments underway in Brisbane, as the Queensland capital steams ahead with its plans to cement its position as ‘Australia’s New World City’ and an essential stop on the international visitor trail.
The Westin Brisbane
Location: Brisbane CBD
Stay here for: Big-brand assurance and a health and wellness focus
Marking another hotel brand in Brisbane is The Westin, with its new-build hotel in the heart of the CBD, minutes from Queen Street Mall and in close proximity to Eagle Street Pier, the Botanic Gardens and the South Bank Parklands and arts precinct. The AUD$200 million hotel forms part of yet another new, mixed-use Brisbane development called Mary Lane, which will offer an array of dining venues and residences in the heart of the central business district.
Being positioned as ‘an urban retreat’, the new lifestyle-focused Westin features 260 guest rooms and 39 suites, each with sweeping views of the city skyline. A health and wellness focus is prevalent throughout the hotel with a fully equipped WestinWORKOUT fitness studio and Heavenly Spa – Westin’s first in Australia, offering signature treatments for mind and body.
The hotel’s swimming pool is situated adjacent to the fitness centre, with yoga and pilates taking place on the 400 square metre podium around the pool deck. Guests are also be able to take advantage of the hotel’s exclusive ‘Run Concierge’, a resident running buddy for guests looking to maintain their fitness whilst on the road.
Three onsite dining venues including a signature restaurant, a lounge bar and a pool bar – complete with Brisbane’s only swim-up bar – are offered, each showcasing fresh, local ingredients in classic styles.
The Westin Club Lounge is also be available to guests staying on designated club floors.
What’s your favourite Brisbane hotel? Tell us in the comments below!