A good old-fashioned romantic weekend calls for a good old-fashioned hotel. Is the Stamford Plaza up to the task? Tiana Templeman finds out Choosing somewhere for a romantic escape using a hotel’s website can be a bit like internet dating.
Sometimes you get a pleasant surprise, but more often than not those attractive online photos are nothing like what you expected once you finally meet.
It’s hard not to feel like a jilted lover when a hotel neglects to mention your view will have little in common with that gorgeous shot on the hotel’s site unless you pay for a higher accommodation category.
Much to our delight, that’s not the case at the Stamford Plaza Brisbane. My husband and I have booked one of the cheapest rooms in the house, yet the view is superb: a quintessential slice of Brisbane with the river meandering under the Story Bridge, which sparkles prettily outside our window as night falls.
It’s raining when we arrive but it seems nothing can dampen the enthusiasm of the staff. A porter zips over to our car and greets us with genuine charm, then shows us to reception where we’re checked in with impressive efficiency by another cheerful staff member.
Wall-to-wall marble surrounds us, and over to our left there’s a magnificent staircase from which even the plainest girl could make a grand entrance.
It feels like we’re starring in a Hollywood movie, everything looks and feels so perfect – but perhaps that’s just the violins.
We’ve arrived during high tea and the sound of a string quartet fills the lobby, along with the cheerful chatter of happy diners.
It’s all rather grand and old-world in the nicest possible way, and my husband and I are charmed.
However, if you’re a fan of sharp-edged modern hotels with all-white walls and minimalist decor, the Stamford may not be for you.
Our genteel room is refined rather than trendy, with muted royal purple tones adding a splash of colour to the otherwise neutral colour scheme.
Large picture windows make the most of the impressive outlook and are set low enough so you can enjoy it from the comfort of a plush lounge chair rather than having to perch on the bed. It’s worth requesting a high floor as this doesn’t cost any extra and further enhances the view.
A flat-screen television is hidden inside a large freestanding wooden bureau, as is the minibar, which holds the usual array of expensive goodies available for purchase.
Furniture like this would likely crowd the average hotel room but those at the Stamford are exceptionally large, a theme that carries over into the marble bathroom. It has a separate bathtub and shower and is so big you could swing a tiger rather than a cat.
We had planned to go for a romantic stroll in the City Botanic Gardens, which are located right next to the hotel, but unfortunately the weather isn’t on our side. Since our well-priced accommodation package comes with a food and beverage credit (which can be used anywhere in the hotel) we opt for a pre-dinner drink at the ground-floor Pav Bar instead.
Once again the staff are exceptionally friendly but the atmosphere is more blokey than romantic, with a television showing sports mounted on the wall, so we take our glasses of wine outside to the rather drippy courtyard instead. It’s enjoyable enough but in hindsight we should have put our voucher towards high tea.
Perhaps it’s a good thing we didn’t fill up on sweet treats as the Stamford Plaza Brisbane is surrounded by some of the best dining spots in town. If you’re coming to Brisbane and love eating out, this hotel is hard to beat.
Aria Brisbane, Moda, Cha Cha Cha, Sake and a host of other excellent restaurants are just around the corner plus there are some equally tempting options at the hotel itself.
An impressive menu that runs to more than five pages and a wine list with more than 50 offerings by the glass provide ample excuse for guests to corral themselves at Moo Moo, a dedicated steak restaurant that offers plenty to tempt non-carnivores as well.
There’s also Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant with a long-standing reputation for excellent teppanyaki.
Unfortunately the hotel’s iconic Brasserie on the River is looking somewhat less than stellar these days.
It was scheduled for a much-needed renovation but this had to be put on hold after the hotel racked up a $20 million repair bill during the floods.
Fortunately it’s relatively easy to turn a blind eye to the ageing decor thanks to the impressive view and equally impressive breakfast spread.
We spend a relaxing couple of hours reading the papers and watching the CityCats cruise serenely up and down the river as cheerful wait staff try to tempt us with yet another latte.
It’s the perfect end to a perfect stay.
Where Stamford Plaza Brisbane, cnr Margaret and Edward Streets, Brisbane.
Notes Tiana booked a Summer Saver package direct with the hotel for $197, which included accommodation for one night, a full buffet breakfast for two and a $20 food/beverage credit.
Contact (07) 3221 1999; stamford.com.au
THE AT Verdict
Tiana Templeman, who paid her own way and visited anonymously, says:
“Stamford Plaza Brisbane is a charming hotel that captures the elegance of days gone by without being old fashioned. It’s worth staying here for the service alone, but most people come for the view. And who can blame them? It’s superb.”