If COMO The Treasury, Perth newest five-star hotel, has taken luxury to a whole new level, the revamped State Buildings that house it are a monument to urban cool.
With its soaring ceilings, Trappist-like silence and near spiritual impact on guests, COMO the Treasury has more in common with its Perth CBD neighbour, St George’s Cathedral, than even the hotel’s developers may have realised.
Housed in an old city landmark known as the State Buildings, this super-luxe 48-room hotel – and the cool bars, restaurants and boutique businesses that share its orbit – have turned a once moribund corner of the city into a must-visit destination.
It’s hard to believe now, but five years ago this monument to luxury living was a collection of three derelict 140-year-old buildings that, over time, had contained government offices, a police court and cell block, the GPO and the state treasury. To create COMO The Treasury, the structures were blended into one, their history honoured in vast hallways, skyscraper ceilings and solid wooden doors and their future embraced in a glass-walled 20-metre heated lap pool, coffee carts, wine bars and the best honey cake you’ll find this side of the Czech Republic.
Here’s why you need to book:
Whether you check in to the smallest (average 55 square metres) or the largest (the extraordinary COMO suite at 120 square metres) you’ll discover oversized windows that you can open (if you prefer fresh air to the individually controlled air conditioning), cool Scandi-style furnishings, adjustable lighting, complimentary wi-fi and built-in USB ports. You’ll sleep between Egyptian cotton sheets on a custom-made king or twin mattress, operate your translucent and blackout blinds from a switch beside the bed and luxuriate in a movie-star bathroom with two basins, a rain shower and a deep Kaldewei Duo bath. If that doesn’t make you feel special enough, grab free a drink from the in-room bar. It’s all part of the deal – and replenished daily.
The Treasury Lounge and Bar looks less like a bar and more like a fancy friend’s living room – actually three living rooms – with chesterfield sofas, a fireplace and walls adorned with the “Cape Arid” collection of watercolours by WA artist Philippa Nikulinsky. There’s a cosy high-tea scene on weekend afternoons.
Outside of COMO – but still in the State Buildings – you’ll find Petition Wine Bar & Merchant and Petition Beer Corner, the latter not so much faithfully restored as lovingly peeled back. Here the history is raw, with exposed brickwork, unoiled timber floors, exposed beams and steel doors. The beer bar has 18 different craft beers on tap while the wine bar offers a selection of boutique drops, many of them organic. Buy a bottle to take away, or add $15 to the bill and enjoy it there. For a nightcap, check out Halford in the basement safe room of the old Titles Office.
On the hotel’s rooftop, Wildflower is a fine-diner with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that frame the Perth cityscape and show-off the Swan River in the distance. The chefs here actually forage for menu items that are based on the indigenous six seasons. The tasting menu, featuring items such as dry aged Wagin duck, aromatic spices, fermented red cabbage and muntries will set you back $145pp, with matched wines another $95. Open Tues-Sat for lunch and dinner only.
Post (the franking room of the old post office) is also part of the hotel and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The modern Australian menu has a French influence but fear not, super-healthy options by COMO Shambhala Cuisine are also available.
Elsewhere within the State Buildings – across from Petition Beer Corner – is Petition Kitchen, a down-to-earth-looking corner eatery with a not-so-basic menu (think Melbourne’s Cumulus Inc.) that leans heavily on local produce. If Rangers Valley flank steak, turnip, capers and brussels leaves feels a tad heavy for lunch, opt for veal sweetbreads, cauliflower, parmesan, rocket and pine nuts. You won’t be sorry. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Taking an entirely different tack is renowned chef David Thompson’s Thai eatery Long Chim. The restaurant – his first in Australia – has the look, vibe and intoxicating aromas of a Bangkok street. This buzzy basement is a must-visit. There are several sittings, so you have around two hours to eat it and beat it.
SEE ALSO: Foragers' Gourmet Weekend
Have your head, feet, face, body or nails massaged, wrapped, rehydrated, awakened or polished – or take yoga and Pilates classes – at the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape. Try the Sodashi calm facial (actually, try to stay awake), a soothing treatment that uses 100 percent chemical free Sodashi products, which, though found in spas globally, is headquartered in nearby North Fremantle.
The things to do
With a range of shopping options and craft workshops, It’s easy to spend a weekend in the State Buildings alone. Learn how to make chocolate with chef Sue Lewis, create a personalised perfume at skincare outlet Clean Slate, shop for a gown in Aurelio Costarella’s flagship store or, if you must leave the building, take a tour of vast Kings Park on the fringe of the city. Just don’t leave without a slice of heaven from The Honeycake. There’s no confusion, it’s the only thing they sell. And it’s spectacular.
The extra stuff
In 1969, at the tender age of 16, Ken Birch worked as a records clerk in the accounts section of WA’s Lands and Survey Department. His office, where the Chief Accountant sat on a raised platform, was in a corner of the second floor (stay with us here).
Twelve months later, Ken met a girl called Leonie in the corridor. She was a new employee, just shy of her 16th birthday. They were engaged on Leonie’s 18th birthday and married later that year.
On their 43rd wedding anniversary, just 12 days after COMO The Treasury opened, Ken and Leonie stayed in Room 26 – Ken’s former office. The couple slept where he once tremblingly handed up documents to the Chief Accountant.
Learning that “She Was Only Sixteen” and “When a Man Loves a Woman” were the songs played at their wedding, COMO staff loaded them onto an iPod and had them playing when the couple walked into the room.
Yep, we cried too.
Location: 1 Cathedral Avenue, Perth, WA
Style: Low-rise luxury in a hotel with history
Perfect for: Business travellers, couples,
Number of rooms: 48
SEE ALSO: First-timer's Guide to Perth