The opening of a new W hotel is a great excuse to head to the Queensland capital for a short break.
Striped carpets, polka-dot wallpapers and shower screens with a raindrops motif… yes, the W Hotels group is back in Australia after a 13-year hiatus and it’s not shying away from making a statement. The hotel chain has invested millions to create Instagram moments and this central Brisbane property is an excellent example, with closets that look like birdcages and a pool with a zebra-patterned ceiling and walls. But the show is just as riveting out the window, with the Brisbane River right in front of the hotel. Ask for room 1903 for 180-degree views of the river and South Bank; after dark, look across the water to James Turrell’s striking Night Life 2018 light installation at the Gallery of Modern Art. When it’s time for dinner, head to the onsite Three Blue Ducks restaurant for Darren Robertson’s unfussy fare (steamed mussels with chilli jam, perhaps) in a relaxed setting with timber floors and cane chairs.
When an architect (Peter Kuhnell) and his jewellery designer wife (Gretta Bottomley) open a café, it’s bound to be beautiful. Experience it for yourself at Felix for Goodness, where brunch options range from dressed-up avo on sourdough to cornmeal arepas with braised borlotti beans. Afterwards, you can explore Roma Street Parkland – 16 hectares of lawns, gardens, ponds, bridges and gorgeous flower displays – a mere 10-minute walk from the CBD.
Despite the psychedelic wallpaper in the hallways, W Brisbane’s Away Spa is a truly relaxing zone, with treatments that include a gemstone massage and anti-ageing facials. Our pick is the Energy Remedy – 90 minutes of full-body scrub and massage, plus a scalp rub for good measure. Spruced up and rejuvenated, it’s time to hit Fortitude Valley (“the Valley” to locals). Stroll past a dazzling array of bars and clubs to arrive at Mr Chester Wine Bar (mrchesterwine.com), which has a great selection of Old and New World drops, plus a solid menu of pizzas and pastas.
One of Brisbane’s most eclectic neighbourhoods, West End is just a 10-minute Uber ride away. Head down Boundary Street, the precinct’s throbbing heart, dotted with bars, cafés, restaurants and pubs. Away from the bustle, you’ll find a few hidden gems. The Happy Cabin boutique on Vulture Street has on-trend clothing for men and women, while the Nordic-influenced Lokal + Co on O’Connell Street is the brunch spot of the moment. Nab a table on the Astroturf lawn (a favourite with dog owners) or settle down in the restaurant proper for haloumi and pumpkin waffles.