A room with a bed and a restaurant downstairs. That was the bad old days of Brisbane hotels when the city was geared towards conference-goers.
But as the Queensland capital has bloomed culturally, so has the demand for more experiential accommodation. Answering the call is a new wave of boutique hotels and resorts catering to lifestyle tourists.
From tropically inspired urban resorts to art-filled riverside getaways, these are the best Brisbane hotels.
48 James St, Fortitude Valley
A Brisbane game changer when it opened in 2018, this 175-room urban resort is designed to embrace the city's subtropical climate, its travertine and breeze-block lined hallways and conference breakout areas open to the elements. The rooms themselves are light-filled hideaways marked by marble, cork, leather and brass highlights. There's a day spa, gym and two restaurants on-site, including the celebrated Hellenika (hellenika.com.au).
But The Calile is also about its James St location – when not sunbathing by the cabana-lined lap pool you can run with the in-crowd at nearby boutiques or first-class restaurants such as Same Same (samesamerestaurant.com.au), Bianca (biancarestaurant.com.au), Gerard's Bistro (gerardsbistro.com.au) and SK Steak & Oyster (sk-so.com).
81 North Quay, Brisbane
Brisbane's first five-star hotel in 20 years opened in 2018, boasting a charismatic glamour not seen before in the city. The public areas' playful lighting, mirrored walls and detailed upholsteries are intended to reflect its Brisbane Riverside location, as are colourful rooms featuring VJ-board walls, standalone bathtubs, generously stocked mix bars, and birdcage-like wardrobes. All digs face the river, meaning you won't miss out on winsome views of South Bank and the cultural precinct. Likewise the flash level-four bar terrace, and a Brisbane edition of paddock-to-plate restaurant Three Blue Ducks (threeblueducks.com). The rest of the city is out the hotel's back door, with the Queen Street Mall a two-minute walk away.
5 Boundary St, Brisbane
The anchor tenant at buzzy Howard Smith Wharves, the 166-room Art Series Fantauzzo boasts a brilliant rooftop bar and pool, more than 500 works by artist Vincent Fantauzzo, and spacious rooms decked out in stone, concrete, timber floors and velvet furniture.
Still, it's that location: wedged beneath Brisbane's iconic Story Bridge with CBD views and surrounded by eateries and bars, everything you need is on your doorstep. Nearby are first-class restaurants such as Stanley (stanleyrestaurant.com.au), Greca (greca.com.au), Yoko (yokodining.com.au) and Ciao Papi (ciaopapi.com.au), but both the CBD and party precinct Fortitude Valley are an easy walk away.
Ovolo The Valley
1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley
Transforming the old Emporium Hotel into a giddy urban retreat, Ovolo The Valley's design switches up from one room to the next via richly upholstered furniture, vivid wallpapers and commissioned art pieces. The rooms range from executive-style Medium rooms to Rockstar suites that feature a separate lounge, bar and dining area.
Downstairs you'll find fantastic plant-based Middle Eastern restaurant Za Za Ta, and the newly opened Kazba, a low-lit Tel Aviv-inspired cocktail joint. Ovolo includes free breakfast, fast wi-fi, minibar and happy-hour drinks if you book directly through its website.
458 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
The brand-new Hotel X's unique position high on the hill of party suburb Fortitude Valley lends it one-of-a-kind views of the city and surrounding suburbs. Enjoy them from the hotel's fabulous rooftop pool and Iris restaurant and bar (
), or get among the action yourself with the clubs of Brunswick St Mall, the restaurants of James St, and buzzy Howard Smith Wharves all just a short walk away. The 146 rooms are opulent hideaways, all recessed lights, timber floors, mosaic tiling and Justin Nicholas artwork.
They feature bottled cocktails, Dyson and GHD hair appliances, Karl Lagerfeld amenities, and Lavazza coffee machines.
The Inchcolm by Ovolo
73 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill
Ovolo purchased these heritage-listed former medical chambers in 2018, turning them into a grown-up's playground filled with modern antiques, patterned wallpaper, and prints by LA-based artist Mr Brainwash. It means this is a hotel where you can happily stay in (despite its location on the edge of the CBD).
The newly opened Inchcolm Bar is a fabulous all-day eatery and boozer with a daily $12 Martini hour, and the beautiful rooms vary wildly in layout but all come with Apple TVs, pod coffee machines, high-speed internet and access to a self-service laundry. The pick? Perhaps the split-level lofts with their wide-windowed views towards the Valley.
37 Balfour St, New Farm
Spicers took the charm of its rural properties and applied it to leafy New Farm when opening this boutique inner-suburban property in 2010. Accommodation is split across a heritage-listed 110-year-old Queenslander home and a 1920s Georgian Revival apartment block, ranging from cosy rooms with bamboo-lined courtyards to exquisitely detailed suites with art deco flourishes. All feature Nespresso coffee machines, Bose sound systems and complimentary wi-fi.
The in-house restaurant and bar are first class, the bar boasting terrific views towards the Story Bridge and CBD beyond. Otherwise, Balfour is on the doorstep of New Farm, Howard Smith Wharves and Fortitude Valley.
477 Boundary St, Spring Hill
The city's accommodation revolution kicked off in earnest with the 2016 rebirth of this heritage-listed edifice as an Art Series hotel celebrating the works of painter Michael Johnson. The 96 suites are bigger than most and adorned with modern furniture, timber highlights and of course, plenty of art – the southern-facing rooms look at the CBD, while those on the north loom over the cute old worker's cottages of the surrounding suburb. There's a sizeable gym, a pool designed by Olympian Michael Klim, and plenty of function and meeting spaces. Other than that it's about the location – sleepy Spring Hill is just a 10-minute walk from the city and a 15-minute walk from Fortitude Valley.
Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane
171 George St, Brisbane
Occupying a century-old former bank building in the heart of the city, Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane leans into its history with ornate sandstone and original timber detailing, capacious public areas and polished floors. Upstairs, there are 220 rooms, from a studio with kitchenette to a 140-square-metre, three-bedroom penthouse.
The city, South Bank, the cultural precinct, the Botanic Gardens and restaurants – both fancy and fast-paced – are all nearby. But you'll also want to spend a night in, dining on elevated Chinese at Donna Chang
, or yakitori and cocktails at subterranean Boom Boom Room Izakaya
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