Art Series Hotels’ new Brisbane incarnation – The Fantauzzo – embraces its dramatic locale as secondary muse.
A rainbow blazes over the Story Bridge as our Uber pulls up to the geometric facade of The Fantauzzo, sitting snug underneath Brisbane’s metal coat hanger. A reprieve, after a day of deluge. Around us, families, well-heeled wedding guests and revellers coming two-by-two descend on the city’s hottest new address – Howard Smith Wharves – to kick off their Saturday night. If atmosphere could be bottled, it would be eau de electric.
5 Boundary Street, Brisbane City; Qld
Inside, Asher Keddie steals the show. Her larger-than-life portrait hangs beside a great hulk of angular stone doubling as reception desk – mirroring the chiselled cliff face behind the hotel, showcased through oversized windows. It’s a dramatic welcome to the second Art Series hotel for Brisbane – one conceived in homage to Keddie’s artist husband, Vincent Fantauzzo.
Young and edgy, 41-year-old Fantauzzo is an Instagram influencer in a stuffy traditionalist gallery world. Favouring fame over pretence has still won him plenty of favours in the art world, though. He’s been awarded the Archibald People’s Choice Award four times and his photorealistic pieces command anything from $60,000 upwards.
If you’re not familiar with his work, you will be after a stroll down the hallways here. The curation, by Keddie, is Australiana by way of celebrity portrait – Heath Ledger, Matt Moran, Baz Luhrmann among them – with 207 pieces hung throughout the hotel. Artworks vary in each of the 166 individually designed rooms.
The base palette runs charcoal, punctuated by timber floors, the creamy leather bedhead, and pops of emerald green velvet, gold and marble. Floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry hides hotel essentials and crystal glassware – perfect for the negroni premix cocktail found in the mini bar.
As I get settled, subtle quirks materialise, like dripping gold coat hooks, an artist’s canvas in the mini bar, and a “Yes… we clean here too” note tucked under the bed. It reveals personality without being OTT.
Only open a few days, some pieces of the service pie still seem to be on their way. I flick through the room service, Google Chromecast and weather on the TV but can’t find the art channel I’d read about. At reception the next morning I’m assured art guides and tours will arrive soon.
I join the throng of locals strolling and cycling under a blue autumn sky to explore the impressive wharf redevelopment and find a crowd congregated around ARC Dining’s coffee counter – one of four new restaurants and bars.
Back at hotel restaurant Polpetta, an à la carte menu delivers toasted rye with crushed peas and fava beans, and a breakfast caprese, but portions err on the small side. Before bidding adieu, I head to level three where all Red Hot Chili Pepper connotations of being ‘under the bridge downtown’ are smashed by the shiny black-tiled infinity pool. I’d quite like to return to stake my claim on a sun lounger – and a negroni – and let Brisbane play muse again.
A sophisticated stay with a dose of contemporary pop culture – The Fantauzzo will appeal to those wanting to experience Brisbane like a local.
The mood, access to the action of Howard Smith Wharves and the rooftop pool.
The noise from Felons Brewing Co. opposite. Perhaps earplugs are needed?
We paid $217 for a Studio Promenade room on an opening special, $60 for breakfast for two in Polpetta and $35 for self-parking.
All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.