You’d be forgiven for driving past the modest frontage of Spicers Balfour Hotel, housed in a converted residence in Brisbane's New Farm built at the turn of the 20th century on a quaint suburban street. But the diners on the verandah are the giveaway – patrons of the popular on-site restaurant, Balfour Kitchen. Read on for the full review.
There are 17 contemporary rooms and one-bed suites are spread between this building and an annexe – a carefully renovated Art Deco block two doors down. Boutique in scale, location and services offered, the property makes for a quiet retreat with a truly neighbourhood feel that’s conveniently close to the city.
Where is Spicers Balfour?
Tucked away in the upmarket neighbourhood of New Farm, Spicers Balfour Hotel is a 10-minute drive from the CBD. The airport is less than 20 minutes’ drive and buses stop around the corner on Brunswick Street. There’s plenty within 10 minutes’ walk: New Farm Cinemas, boutique shopping, popular cafés and bars along James Street, and the happening nightlife and eateries down by the river at Howard Smith Wharves.
Rooms are contemporary with a definite Australian sensibility – welcoming luxury without the stuffiness. There are nine 29-square-metre Executive Queen and King rooms in the main building, decorated with richly patterned bedlinen, and eight 38-square-metre Balfour Suites in the secondary building featuring floral watercolour curtains and velvet upholstery. All rooms have aircons (as well as windows that open), Nespresso machines, bathtubs and rain showers, Bose Bluetooth speakers and Foxtel. Mini-bars are stocked daily with real milk decanted into mini bottles and you’ll also find proper-sized bottles of white, rosé and red, chilled chocolate, ready-made cocktails and paracetamol and toothbrushes.
Restaurants and bars
Balfour Kitchen is open for breakfast, high tea, lunch daily and dinner from Tuesday through Saturday. It’s an impressive, if small-scale, tablecloth affair serving up well-conceived modern Vietnamese dishes in an ambient dining space. Friendly service and an Australian-centric wine list sees locals booking the award-winning venue for special occasions, while hotel guests take advantage of the convenience of onsite accommodations to enjoy the generous tasting menus.
Travel for work
For meetings and events, the boardroom seats 16-18 depending on the configuration, while the Simla Room seats 30 for conferences, 50 for banquet dining and up to 60 for cocktails. There are daily newspapers available in the library, a laundry service, Foxtel in all rooms, onsite parking and free wi-fi. Chauffeured airport transfers can be booked at reception.
Gym and fitness
There’s no on-site gym but there’s free yoga on Saturday mornings and rooms come equipped with a yoga mat, kettle bell, dumbbells and a resistance band. Pay to hire one of the hotel’s e-bikes (book in advance) to explore New Farm or complete the Brisbane River Loop. If you’re a runner, try one of the hotel’s two recommended jogging routes. Need more of a relaxing time out? Reception can book massages at nearby Endota Spa or float therapy sessions at City Cave on your behalf.
What you need to know
Take advantage of the cool evening breeze at the hotel’s cosy bougainvillea-trimmed rooftop bar. There are no crowds or pumping dance music – it’s mostly hotel guests who head up at sunset to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and views of the Storey Bridge and city skyline.
Best for: Couples and business travellers seeking boutique luxury
Number of rooms: 17, nine contemporary rooms and eight executive suites
Rates: $229 a night
Wi-fi: Free wi-fi throughout both main buildings
Parking: Free and available onsite at both main buildings
Address: 37 Balfour Street, Brisbane
Telephone: 1300 597 540
Earn 3 Qantas Points per $1 when you book your next stay at qantas.com/hotels