Enjoy city-fringe benefits in Adelaide’s leafy Walkerville at the Art Series Hotel Group’s The Watson.
The Watson is part of the stylish Art Series Hotel Group, and this Adelaide outpost is named for Central Australian desert artist Yannima Pirkarli Tommy Watson, whose masterful use of colour has informed the hotel’s interior design. The Pitjantjatjara elder’s works adorn the walls of the hotel, and splashes of highly pigmented desert reds and ochres highlight the light, airy spaces.
The building was once home to the city’s Transport Department and underwent a $120 million redevelopment to become The Watson, offering boutique open-plan suites and long- or short-stay residential apartments.
The Art Series has won fans for its hip accommodation in happening locales around the country including Melbourne’s The Blackman on St Kilda Road, The Olsen in South Yarra, The Cullen in Prahran and The Larwill in Parkville, as well as The Schaller Studio in Bendigo.
There are open-plan self-contained suites as well as Art Series Residences designed for longer stays. Each suite is furnished in a mid-century/Scandi-chic fashion and has a kitchenette, sofa, workspace and a library of art books and magazines, while larger one- or two-bedroom suites also have laundry facilities, lounge and dining areas, private balconies and more extensive kitchen facilities. In the bathrooms, you’ll find large walk-in showers and Evo toiletries.
All rooms have an Art Series Signature Bed, designed especially for the Art Series hotels by specialty bed-maker AH Beard. Most importantly, the walls are hung with glorious Watson prints.
The inner north-eastern suburb of Walkerville is a quaint village right at the edge of town. It’s all wide streets, historical churches, well-kept houses and leafy parks. Beautiful Victorian mansions perch near the Torrens, where guests can enjoy pleasant riverside strolls.
Walkerville is the perfect base for taking daytrips to the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale (each about a 30-minute drive), and the Adelaide CBD is a short drive from the hotel. There are great galleries, restaurants and shopping within walking distance, and Walkerville Terrace has a local pub, supermarket and other small businesses where guests can gather all the fixings for an in-room meal.
Cafés are still a little thin on the ground in Walkerville, but that’s not a problem at The Watson. Local Grind serves as a restaurant, café and on-site providore, dishing up top-notch coffee, brunch from 7am and bigger meals from 11am daily, all packed with local South Australian produce.
Thursday to Saturday, chef and owner Adam Rocco opens Local Grind for dinner. Enjoy a share plate of crostini of hand-cut beef, shallot, mustard, egg yolk and chives, or opt for a main course of braised lamb shoulder with cavolo nero, glazed shallot and baked polenta. There are daily specials, too, brimming with fresh seasonal produce. The wine list is entirely local, with a selection of Barossa and McLaren Vale drops to match the menu. Dessert is a must – why would you even try to resist the chestnut castagnaccio cake with malt gelato?
The Watson isn’t based in the centre of town, but with its facilities, it doesn’t need to be. There are free Lekker bikes and electric scooters for hire, or guests can rent a zippy little Smart Car for just $50 a day.
For those who require more than a gentle walk by the river, there’s a stunning 25-metre pool designed by Olympic swimmer Michael Klim and a rooftop gym. If it’s pampering you’re after, that’s provided in spades at the Myst Hair & Beauty salon.
Business travellers are well catered for, too, with conference and events facilities, boutique serviced offices and free wi-fi.
The Watson’s front desk staff aren’t just concierges, they’re “curators of local experiences”. This means they can tell you everything from the best route to the city on bike, where to see the coolest gig in town or chronicle the oeuvre of Tommy Watson. The friendly front desk staff will even call you before your stay to see if there’s anything in particular you’d like to have in your room upon arrival.
Trained “Art Advocates” run free art tours around the hotel so guests can learn about The Watson’s namesake artist and the incredible giclee prints that adorn the walls of the building.
Location: 33 Warwick Street, Walkerville, South Australia
Style: Boutique hotel and residence
Perfect for: Art-lovers, business travellers, couples and families
Number of rooms: 110 self-contained suites
SEE ALSO: Our full guide to Adelaide