Magic position near city
ON THE doorstep of the bustling Brisbane central business district and a stone's throw from Fortitude Valley, Spring Hill is the historic epicentre of Brisbane and in the middle of some exciting urban renewal, though there's still plenty of renewal to be done.
Part of that renewal has been the complete renovation of the old Transport Department headquarters in Boundary St into the stylish, trendy and convenient, The Johnson.
The weekend I spent at the Johnson was the weekend of the back-to-back Adele concerts.
Getting around in Brisbane could have been a nightmare but staying right there in the heart of the city meant catching a cab to the Queen Street Mall cost less than $10. It arrived about two minutes after we pressed the "taxi button" at the front desk.
Getting back to The Johnson later, and then back into the Valley too was just as stress-free, quick and cheap.
Attached to The Johnson, with its 97 self-contained, swank suites overlooking the city and the quaint rooftops of Spring Hill's surprisingly tree-lined residential streets, is the onsite restaurant and bar, Tumbling Stone.
Tumbling Stone's decor celebrates the outdoor Queensland lifestyle, and the staff made a mean Old Fashioned and did a gruyere cheese and wild mushroom breakfast tart to die for.
The Johnson has all the perks you'd expect from luxury accommodation, including posh coffee machines in each suite, a well-stocked bar fridge, free high-speed wifi, Foxtel, lashings of Michael Johnson art work (which you can buy and take home with you if you like), and an incredible, open-air, 50m lap pool.
The "his and her's" sinks were also a nice surprise but the balcony to our suite was not much wider than my hips, which made for some interesting manoeuvring with a wine glass in one hand and a cheese platter in the other. But if you're a country mouse spending the weekend in the inner city, you'd be mad to waste much time loitering on the balcony.
- Shelley Strachan
Tryp of a lifetime
NESTLED in the heart of the Fortitude Valley, a gourmet burger joint at its base and a cocktail bar atop, Tryp transcends the label of hotel.
Location, food and a bed you'll be ripping the sheets off in pursuit of its brand, the Constance St accommodation is a hotel for today. Conceptualised as a new breed of art hotel, the bedroom is just for sleeping with the rest of the building your new living room, library, kitchen and bar. The young staff at the reception are ready to offer a suggestion, knowing everything from the best gig to catch during your stay, to the most succulent ribs in town.
The biggest selling point of Tryp is its prime location, skirting the hustle of the central business district but having easy access to trains, buses and bikes for environs beyond. For those looking for a quiet spot in Fortitude Valley's bustling metropolis, this is it. You can keep within a 200m radius of Tryp, and eat some of the best food in Brisbane, sip on a Hemingway that would get the thumbs up from Ernest or chow down on pho of Hanoi street cafe calibre.
And if you don't want to leave Tryp, Chur Burger sits at the hotel's base. Whether you want an 11pm pulled pork burger or a 7am plate of waffles, Chur Burger can deliver, quite literally. Ride the elevator to the top, and you hit UP, a trendy cocktail bar that hits full crowd about 10pm.
Where to eat and drink near Tryp
James St Market Sushi Co: This is sashimi-central, and only a quick walk from Tryp. Chef Toki learnt his craft as a professional Japanese master chef from his father, who passed on his skill of creating mouth-watering sushi and sashimi.
The Vietnamese: The 33-year-old stalwart of Brisbane's Asian dining doesn't sell itself as anything but the truth. Don't be tempted by the pages of dinner options; stick to Vietnamese staples. Pho (noodle soup), and the salt and pepper quail are must-trys.
Bucci: This three-year-old Italian establishment has only become more delicious. Indulge in fresh, handmade dishes with a carefully curated wine list to match.
- Molly Glassey
The show goes on
I TOUCHED my knife to the perfectly poached quail egg and it let loose its yolk over the raw eye fillet. It's rare (get it) to see steak tartare on a menu in Brisbane, but Bacchus restaurant in Rydges South Bank delivers fine dining of old classics with contemporary twists.
The chefs replaced the expected capers and dill pickle with mustard seeds, for instance, in our entree.
The touch of fancy was not lost on a pair of well-dressed young diners who found their mains sufficiently Instagram worthy. Our venison served on a two-level plate, plus venison burger slider perched on a column, also was attractive.
It was a fitting touch of theatre for a restaurant - which also offers a breakfast buffet popular with families - in the heart of the show district. Rydges South Bank is next door to the Brisbane Convention Centre and a stone's throw from QPAC.
But if you are not in the big smoke for shows, the Brisbane central business district and West End's funky food and drink options are within walking distance, too. And at the weekends, the South Bank markets offer clothing, accessories and homewares. The parklands has a huge, and free, water park and adventure playground for the kids.
The hotel's proximity to the river also meant a 180-degree view of the water and city behind it from our one-bedroom suite. Enjoy the view from the big balcony or, if it is too windy, open up the curtains and let the floor to ceiling windows do their thing.
We woke in the morning and watched the tendrils of light creep across the water as an old city ferry slid under the motorway bridge, breaking the smooth surface of the river with its small wake. A sneak peek through the windows on the other side of the hotel, gleaned as cleaners left the doors open to make up hotel rooms, showed a leafy inner city. The sauna and gym also were top notch - the sauna in particular was a perfect way to relax after a hectic week.
And, after travelling for work to no less than 12 hotels in a year, I can say with authority the pillows on the bed were Goldilocks cushioning. Not too hard, not too soft but just right.
- Letea Cavander
Brissie gets chic
A CITY teeming with good food, fun, and fashion - and no, it's not Sydney or Melbourne.
Brisbane is quickly becoming a chic destination for food lovers and fashionistas alike, so why not explore Queensland's capital from the heart of the city?
Only a short walk from the Brisbane River sits the Mantra on Mary - ideally situated so you're only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the top shopping hot spots, great food, and Brisbane's best bars.
With fully self-contained apartments fit for a king, you can rest, relax, or recoup after a day's exploring in comfort and style.
Panoramic views from the room give you an excellent vantage point of the city - a sight that becomes simply breathtaking when the sun sets and the surrounding skyscrapers light up and begin to sparkle.
Only a few hundred metres away from your doorstep is Brisbane's famous Eagle Street Pier - a one-stop shop for bars and fine dining - or just drink up the view of the Story Bridge instead.
For the fitness fanatics out there, your health regime doesn't have to stop because you're on holiday - just work up a sweat at the pool and gym reserved exclusively for guests.
If working out your credit card is more your style, Queen Street Mall and the exclusive Wintergarden centre are only a few minutes' walk away.
Designer brands are right at your fingertips - so set aside an afternoon and shop 'til you drop.
So tell the southern cities to take a rest - Brisbane is the new stylish destination on offer, and a stay at Mantra on Mary puts you right in the centre of it.
- Rachel Lang
In the heart of a cultural hub
SAGE Hotel in James St at New Farm is great for a weekend escape. Its location beside the Queens Arms Hotel but still close to the city centre meant I had a view of the city from my room.
Sage slots in perfectly to the tree-lined streets with its tall living-greenery wall in the lobby. The rooms themselves are modern. They embrace local and are kitted out with James St shops' wares. The Dinosaur Designs bowls were a personal favourite of mine.
Even the mini bar is stocked with local temptations including Jocelyn's Provisions, New Farm Confectionary, Newstead Brewing Co and Yogiic coconut water. So If you can't get enough from the mini-bar, you can stroll on down to the shops to stock up for home.
James St is a cultural hub alive with boutique shops and some really great restaurants and cafes. Some designer brands call James St home but the real treat is some of the local entrepreneurs and businesses, such as Scrumptious Reads and Molten Store. Then if you take a little stroll down a laneway you might find yourself in a contemporary gallery. TWFine Art, for instance, hosts works from Australian and international artists.
If you don't feel like walking, Sage has you covered. Its courtesy car is available to any guest wishing to travel a short distance, providing the car is not already being used. I took a smooth ride to check out New Farm Confectionary. Their Belgian couverture chocolate peanut brittle milkshake is amazing. This is confectionary done right, no brightly coloured worm-shaped jelly lollies here.
After a full-on day of shopping and sampling the delights that James St has to offer, set yourself up for a relaxing time and walk a few metres up the road from Sage to Waterlily. If you are short on time their petite facial is perfect. You could decide to go out for dinner or drinks, but if you really just want to stay in your room, you could do that too. Sage offers in-room dining and has an on-site boutique bottleshop.
The hotel doesn't have a pool or gym, but it offers complimentary access to nearby facilities.
Your breakfast options are open-ended, if you need a quick something to grab and go, James Street Café is perfect, accessible from the lobby. If you have the time though, you really ought to try Botanical, next door.
- Melissa Doyle
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