We check in to the W Brisbane and realise sleep, while superb here, is just one piece of the experiential pie.
In the land of luxury hotels, pushing boundaries used to mean later check-out and designer amenities, not eight-foot iridescent beetles in the lifts and birthday cakes for four-legged guests.
So when W Hotels chose Brisbane to re-enter Australia with, I was eager to see what the boutique brand had up its sleeve. It turns out, the W isn’t just a luxury hotel, it’s a hedonistic playground – all psychedelic pool bar up top and urban day spa underneath.
81 North Quay, Brisbane, Queensland
What to expect
Climbing the stairs to the Welcome Desk, I’m immediately struck by the variety of design features, textures and moody tones.
Interior design agency, Nic Graham & Associates, has done a brilliant job of infusing ‘BrisVegas’ into the moody hallways, curvaceous rooms and windows, and thrumming public spaces. Working to the theme, ‘A River Dreaming’, design elements range from reed-like installations to swirling sand patterns in the carpet of the 312 rooms.
Then there’s the quintessentially Queensland touches – VJ panelling, an ‘outback drum’ bath, and oversized pink pineapple atop the well-stocked in-room bar. Press the ‘Whatever/Whenever’ button on your phone and eight-serve ‘Qld Martini’ kits with dehydrated raspberries can be delivered post-haste.
It might be championing Brissie but there’s an awful lot of Sydney in here, too: Three Blue Ducks, Becker Minty (aka W the Store), and even artist Mechelle Bounpraseuth, whose quirky ceramic creations of meat pies and Iced VoVos line the wall leading to the restaurant.
Checked in and kicked back in our Wonderful Room, service to this point has been warm and welcoming – especially from the staffer who leaped at the chance to show me the spa and Edwards & Co. salon – but gets swept away in the after-work crush by the time we head to the WET Deck with its Op Art pool for a pre-dinner drink.
We decide to ditch the plastic glasses by the pool for grown-up cocktails in the Living Room, which wraps around most of the ground floor, and appreciate our drinks being ferried up to Three Blue Ducks when a table becomes available.
This northern migration of the brand from Bronte and Byron Bay has Brisbane abuzz and the food doesn’t disappoint, with smoky wood-fired meat and hearty vegan-friendly sides. Breakfast the next morning, ordered à la carte, however, is a bit of a let-down.
We’ve got a few hours to kill between a midday check-out and meeting friends so staff suggest a wander to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, which sit in an undersold pocket of the city. One final snap of the bedazzled banana statue in the lobby and I bid adieu to the wacky world of W, stepping out into lovely low-key Brisbane.
The punch of personality in an otherwise safe hotel landscape and on-point dinner at Three Blue Ducks. Order the Moreton Bay bugs!
I’d ditch the teeny single-use plastic water bottles in the rooms and hope the bar service improves.
All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly