Mozzarella and Italian pastries for breakfast, a gym gear hire scheme for morning tea - the new Perth Westin's wellness focus is perfectly balanced
The Westin Perth
480 Hay Street
+61 8 6559 1888
Getting there: Air New Zealand operates year-round direct flights from Auckland, and a December-March service from Christchurch. From Terminal 1, take a 20-minute cab to the city or, for under $5, jump on Bus Route 380 (yep, it's named for the plane).
First impression: Hold your nose if you don't like white tea scent. The building is slick and modern, but those expensive urban edges are softened by the art choices. Particularly beautiful: Christian Fletcher's aerial photographs that look like abstract paintings and the Lena Nyadbi carved stone wall that comes into its own at nighttime.
Check-in experience: Delightful, followed by the usual lift lottery. Does that swipe card work? (No). Does the other swipe card work? (Yes).
The room: Floor-to-ceiling windows, clean lines and chartreuse accents. My enormous deluxe king room included a four-seater couch, a long padded bench in the bathroom, and a curved triangular table with two elegant dining chairs. A substantial dark wood "shelf" down one side of the room adds design drama and even more seating options. Bring your friends! Tell your friends to bring chardonnay! (Seriously – Swan Valley, Australia's second oldest wine-growing region, is only 25 minutes away).
The bed: Equally enormous.
What's so good about this place: It's five star, very new and the emphasis is on wellbeing - think lavender balm to help you sleep and a civilised 3pm finish to weekend breakfast dining hours.
And the bad: For a few worrying seconds, I couldn't find a toilet. Don't panic. It's behind the floor-to-ceiling mirror.
The bathroom: Separate toilet (see above), terrific shower (rainhead and regular) and covetable toiletries (assuming you like white tea).
What's in the neighbourhood: In 2007, an American travel writer dubbed Perth "dullsville". A revitalisation programme has resulted in street art and safer alleyways (think outdoor chandeliers and cameras), the opening of almost 100 boutique bars and eateries and the Yagan Square development connecting the CBD with Northbridge. I gleaned all this - plus coffee, cake and history - via a highly recommended Two Feet & a Heartbeat Walking Tour. Go for the street art, stay for stories of a madder, badder Perth including paving stones depicting stories of ye olde criminals. In 1875, for example, Mr Francis was alleged to have "exchanged nobblers for readies".
Food and drink: Garum, the in-house restaurant, is a collaboration with Guy Grossi so it's as Italian and delicious as you'd expect. Don't miss the pasta - "colatura" translates as "insanely good" (and also "anchovy drippings"). Sunday breakfast was of farmer's market proportions. All the usuals, with huge slabs of fresh-baked focaccia, an abundance of fresh salads, fruit, cheese, charcuterie and sweet Italian treats. Don't forget to look up. The restaurant used to be an Irish community hall, and it has lovely arched timber bones.
Free Wi-Fi? Yes.
Room service: Includes meals designed to help you sleep, but do that at home. You want to get to that breakfast buffet, stat.
Exercise facilities: No excuse! They have sport shoes and work-out gear for hire, and the outdoor pool is cliche-blue.
Perfect for: Modern-day lovers.
Price: Deluxe king rooms start at AUD $208 ($217).