Having lived in Brisbane for more than 12 years, Queensland Ballet’s artistic director Li Cunxin now calls the city home. The former ballet dancer, stockbroker and author (of the best-selling memoir Mao’s Last Dancer) has come to love Brisbane for its friendly people, sunshine and laid back attitude. “Everyone always mentions the sunny weather but it's true,” says Cunxin. Here, the LSH Auto Australia ambassador shares his must-visit places in the Queensland capital.

Stay in the city’s slickest hotel

Calile, Qld

“When it comes to accommodation in Brisbane, location is everything,” says Cunxin. He recommends staying in Fortitude Valley, a 10-minute drive north east of Brisbane’s CBD and home to fashion boutiques Calexico and Aje, LOS wine bar and hip Greek restaurant, Hellenika. When staying in the Valley, The Calile is a must. The subtropical inner-city resort features 175 pastel-hued rooms with travertine floors, cork-panelled bedheads and pink-marble benchtops. Most balconies overlook the palm-fringed 30-metre pool with its white and green parasols and colour-coordinated cabanas. “The Calile Hotel allows you access to all the amenities on James Street. This is where you’ll find some of Brisbane’s trendiest restaurants and shopping experiences. It's such a brilliant location.”

Sample Brisbane’s finest sushi

Takashiya, Qld

Tucked beneath the Emporium Hotel in South Bank, Takashiya is a menu-free omakase restaurant and whisky bar that Cunxin and his wife Mary adore. Featuring a horseshoe-shaped bar beneath a bower of cherry blossoms, Cunxin enjoys the easy intimacy of the space. “It’s very small – max 14 people – and we go so often, the staff know us by name now. There are two chefs making all the sushi and sashimi right in front of you. They serve many courses – 12 or 13 – in an omakase style. It’s the most incredible experience.”

LSH Auto Australia is Australia’s leading Mercedes-Benz retail group. Visit LSH Auto’s Mercedes-Benz Brisbane store to check them out.

Drink beers on a sunny wharf

Felons Brewing Co, Qld

Afternoon drink? Cunxin suggests going down to Howard Smith Wharves, which is dotted with restaurants and bars like two-storey Cantonese powerhouse Stanley and Felons Brewing Co. “I sit outside by the water at Felons with the Story Bridge and the city as the backdrop. It makes you feel happy when you wake up and there’s beautiful sunny weather almost all the time. They’ve done a spectacular job making Howard Smith Wharves a place to be.” Felons covers its beer bases offering lager, IPA and pale ale. Its Galaxy Haze hazy pale ale has hints of Queensland mango and passionfruit.

Dance your way through the city’s art precinct

Queensland Ballet, Qld

As someone who lives and breathes the arts, Cunxin thinks Brisbane’s arts scene has become world-class. The West End is home to his beloved Queensland Ballet where a new production called Strictly Gershwin, is currently in rehearsals. “It’s not just ballet though – we have ballroom, Latin tango, tap-dancing, singers and, imagine: a 50-piece orchestra on the stage [28 September to 7 October]. In December, it will be Christmas favourite, The Nutcracker.”

Brisbane’s culture is not just limited to performing arts, “GOMA is just really incredible. Every time I go it’s such an enjoyable experience. The exhibitions are always of a really high standard.”

Hike through the hinterland

Sunshine Coast, Qld

Cunxin and his family often set off for the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast for a day out of town. “Within an hour and a half north or south, you can get to two of the most beautiful coasts. I quite like to go to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, too.” Cunxin names Maleny as a favourite. Just a 90-minute drive from Brisbane, to spend time in Mary Cairncross Reserve. “It’s more than 50 hectares of nature reserve. It’s absolutely beautiful, with rainforest, walking trails and barbecue facilities so you can cook lunch. It’s all on the doorstep of Brisbane.”

LSH Auto Australia is Australia’s leading Mercedes-Benz retail group. Visit LSH Auto’s Mercedes-Benz Brisbane store to check them out.

SEE ALSO: 5 of the Best Family-friendly NSW Road Trips

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