Michael Burgess checks into the W Hotel Brisbane
Location: Central Brisbane. Taxis between $50-$60. An alternative is the Airtrain to Roma St station ($19 one way) and it's a 10-minute walk from there.
Check-in experience: Easy and informal. At the top of a sweeping staircase from the entrance, the staff were behind small pods, like the ones you see in banks these days. There was a selection of newspapers, a plate of granny smith apples and sparkling drinks.
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What's in the neighbourhood? The hotel is next to the river so it's an easy stroll across the bridge and down to Southbank, and close to all central city attractions. I spent the most of my Brisbane stay at Suncorp Stadium, which was an easy 15-20 minute walk, and strolling the legendary Caxton St bar area on game night is a cultural experience.
My room: "Marvellous" one-bedroom suite with river view.
The bed: Super King. Super comfortable.
Bathroom: Massive. I've stayed in some entire rooms in London that were smaller than this. A large double shower area, with a choice of monsoon and hand-held shower heads. The bath was modelled on the 10-gallon drums used in the Australian Outback, and there were twin sinks and mirrors.
Toiletries: Large selection of W Hotel's own brand, Bliss. Good quality and plentiful.
Free Wi-Fi? Yes, and no password.
Exercise: Sixth-floor gym offers great views of the city. A selection of machines and treadmills, including a tortuous-looking stair climber, free weights and a yoga area. Also offers disposable headphones. Swimming pool (heated to 24C) at the spectacular Wet Deck is an appealing place for some gentle laps.
Noise: Quiet. It helped that I was on the 19th floor.
Price: Rates start from A$300 (NZ$318) per night. Suites start from A$450.
Food: W Hotel hosts the first Queensland venture of Three Blue Ducks, a group of Aussie blokes who have three restaurants in New South Wales, and emphasise ethical, sustainable and farm-to-table fare.
I didn't even scratch the surface of what was available at the buffet breakfast (A$42), but I gave it a good go. Three types of muesli, all kinds of smoothies and juices, wondrous selection of breads and pastries, eggs by request, freshly grilled salmon and varied Asian inspired bowls (Teriyaki eggplant was a hit). All complemented by friendly service and expansive river views.
What's so good about this place? There's a large-screen television in the bathroom, at the foot of the bathtub. The room was an ideal mix of comfort and luxury. Curtains opened with a push of a button and room lighting system was logical and functional (often not the case). Super comfortable dressing gowns (I was almost tempted to do an "Axel Foley" and souvenir one) and proper-sized slippers. Backgammon sets and board games to ponder over coffee at the living room bar in the lobby. Wide range of coat hangers, that aren't fixed to the wardrobe. Boomerang-shaped coffee table. Two large screen TVs in the room. Piped music playing through underwater speakers as you do laps in the Wet Deck pool.
I loved all the little details. Even waiting for a lift on my floor, it felt like I was standing in a corridor on the Death Star, with the metallic-looking grey panels, soft blue lighting and night-time motif creating a general sci-fi movie feel. It was probably not the intended effect, but impressive none the less.
And the bad? Not much. The desk was a little small for my purposes, but I imagine that most who stay here are not working.
Bottom line: It was difficult to leave. Luxury and style, but with a feeling of homely comfort make this place perfect for special occasions.