Brisbane’s first urban resort feels like a glamorous trip to Palm Springs.
The Calile Hotel
48 James Street
Fortitude Valley, Qld
What to expect
The Calile (pronounced kal–isle) is the latest in a growing line of boutique hotels in Brisbane, a city quickly becoming one of Australia’s premier destinations for great food, wine, craft beer and unique lodgings.
The old ‘Bris-Vegas’ moniker no longer seems to ring true when you approach the Calile through the hip precinct of James Street, its laneways unfurling with glossy greenery, high-end retail stores and brutalist concrete facades. Indeed, walking into the hotel lobby, I feel as if I could be in Palm Springs or Miami.
The lobby and adjoining bar of the Calile, with its rich-veined rose marble counters, smooth concrete columns, bell-shaped brass pendants and blonde timber flooring, is humming with tanned, long-legged beauties on this Saturday afternoon. It would be easy for a pasty Melburnian like me to feel out of place, but the welcome I receive from the breezy, linen-clad front desk staff is attentive and warm.
The sense of being in a tropical oasis continues as I go up to my room. Unlike traditional hotels in warm-weather cities where the air conditioning dial is turned to frigid, the Calile embraces the elements; hallways feature curved breezeblocks, open-air corridors and archways that offer alluring views of the glittering pool below.
There are 175 guestrooms, with nine different suite types and two premier suites to choose from. Having seen social media shots of the azure 30-metre pool, framed by palm trees and plush cabanas with mint green cushions, I’m thrilled to have scored a poolside suite.
The pool is cleverly revealed as I open the door to my room, my entry triggering a motion-detecting blind that scrolls upwards, flooding the suite with light.
The walls carry a hint of pink, which is accentuated by blushing, speckled marble and brushed brass fixtures. The sisal matting, golden oak cabinetry and linen robes all speak to a relaxed, natural but sophisticated vibe. There’s a long, nude leather daybed by the window and I make a mental note that it would be an ideal spot to recline once I acquaint myself with a few items from the locally sourced minibar (hello Dello Mano brownies and cocktails from the Everleigh Bottling Co.).
The bathroom has dusky pink tiles, an arched shower recess and gorgeous Grown Alchemist toiletries, but I find the self-closing toilet door that automatically shuts more annoying than convenient. Still, it’s a small gripe in the context of a hotel room that manages to be tech-savvy (the air-conditioning system has motion sensors that turn off and on when you leave and enter your room) while retaining a strong sense of style.
It would be easy with all the angular concrete, marble and brass for the Calile to feel cold and masculine, but out on my balcony, looking down at the pool (the beauties now seem to have migrated from the lobby and bar to the pool deck), I realise just how curvaceous the Calile is. Wherever I look, there are arches bending over doorways in wide sweeps, half-moons and semicircles, all of which lend a distinctly feminine feel to the property.
While I’m tempted to stay in and alternate between people-watching from my balcony and chaise lounge, or try out the huge selection of free movies, there’s exploring to be done.
At the pool level, there is the KAILO medispa, a calming space with ochre tiles, white walls and sheer pink curtains separating the wellness pods. The treatments range from utterly relaxing (such as the Moroccan rose hand treatment) to the more interventionist (anti-wrinkle fillers and injectables are discreetly administered by an onsite cosmetic physician).
If you want to look after your mind as well as your body, you can while away a good chunk of time browsing the magazines, obscure cycling books, books about Greek architecture and travelogues at the small library.
Food and drink
But perhaps what makes the Calile a destination even for those not staying there is Hellenika, the second edition of the acclaimed eatery on the Gold Coast. This really is modern Greek food at its best, and it would be a crime to leave without ordering the crisp kolokithia (zucchini chips), the htapodi (tender-grilled octopus with a perfectly charred crust) or the kritharaki (orzo pasta with Fraser Coast spanner crab). The seafood is certified sustainable and is flown in from all over Australia each day.
The next morning I feel quite downcast about checking out, although a wholesome breakfast in the lobby bar (house-made granola with yoghurt parfait and berry coulis) paired with a long, cool grapefruit and pineapple juice does comfort me. As I go back to my room to pack my things I go out onto my balcony for one last look at the pool. I watch a couple of guests gliding through the water, swimming their early morning laps. Now that’s my idea of a lazy Sunday.
A fabulous urban retreat for a sun-soaked city break.
The filtered water taps on every floor.
Rooms overlooking the pool are a wonderful place to sit and people-watch, but can get noisy in the evening.
Poolside suites start at $329 per night or $354 per night with breakfast included.