A $10 million refurbishment has given birth to Urban Brisbane, one of the best value for money hotels in the vibrant Queensland capital. Local Tiana Templeman checks in to check out just how affordable this inner-city stay has become.
“Tie me up tightly,” says my husband, peering at the sash from his bathrobe. I walk slowly towards him and take the strip of fabric in my hand, see the words embroidered on it and start laughing. It appears he wasn’t making me an offer at all, but was simply reading out the jolly instructions stitched onto his bathrobe belt. Our comfy slippers are similarly adorned with holiday advice, urging us to “Slow Down”. And we’re about to discover that Urban Brisbane offers guests plenty more reasons to smile.

This contemporary hotel on Wickham Terrace is a Brisbane icon and originally opened as the Gazebo Terrace Hotel in 1970, when it was the place to come for a night on the town. Local sophisticates sipped Brandy Crusta cocktails before adjourning to the rooftop restaurant for stunning city views (free), a plate of prawns ($5.25) and a bottle of Queen Adelaide claret ($6.50). Taking your special lady for a night out at the Gazebo was sure to impress.

The poor old Gazebo was really showing its age but, thanks to the extensive refurbishment program, it has been transformed into a stylish hotel with a refreshing sense of fun.

The rooftop restaurant is no more and the hotel has since undergone a $10 million refurbishment but staying here has never been more affordable. We’re able to snap up a $99 deal during an accommodation sale and cannot believe our luck as we stroll through the modern, light-filled lobby. Cool tunes from a funky wall-mounted Bang & Olufsen sound system suit the laidback vibe and my husband and I are checked in with a smile.

Our allocated room with a queen size bed represents excellent value but we’re keen to relive the glory days of the hotel and ask to see a suite. These are located at the front of the hotel and come with a separate bedroom and living area, large terrace-style balcony and 180-degree views of the city skyline. It costs an extra $100 to upgrade, which we do.

The poor old Gazebo was really showing its age but, thanks to the extensive refurbishment program, it has been transformed into a stylish hotel with a refreshing sense of fun. All rooms come with quirky bathrobes and Slow Down slippers, and our bathroom has designer soap which is “the cleanser of pores, the eraser of smells, the sudsy joy that wraps your body in social hygiene . . .” It smells pretty good too.

Hotel Urban Brisbane may be fond of a joke but the business of running a hotel is taken very seriously. Service is professional and it seems nothing we ask for is too much trouble (including hunting down a corkscrew to open the bottle of wine we brought from home). Our suite is spotless and in excellent repair, as is the room we were originally shown, and the cool monochrome colour scheme is sophisticated without being austere.

We agree that our lavish suite must be one of the best accommodation bargains in town, with similar rooms at other Brisbane hotels costing twice or even three times as much. It’s worth noting that every room has a balcony, not just the suites, although views from those on lower levels are far less impressive (and priced accordingly, which seems fair). A higher floor warrants the extra spend and still equates to excellent value.

Our hometown sparkles like a disco ball as night wraps itself around the nearby parklands, trains give a jaunty toot as they depart Roma Street Station, and the Brisbane River shimmers like a silvery-grey ribbon in the distance. This is Brisbane as we’ve never seen it before and our plans for dinner in the ground floor Gazebo Bar & Restaurant are abandoned in favour of room service on the balcony.

My call goes through to the bar when I ring to place our order and, while no-one orders a Brandy Crusta, plenty of other drinks are served while I’m hanging on the line. So many, in fact, that I eventually give up and try reception. No apology is given but they explain the bar staff are flat out and offer to put me through again with a promise my order will be taken straight away – which it is. This proves to be the only glitch during our stay and, when two tasty meals are delivered on time and with a smile, all is forgiven.

Hotel Urban Brisbane is a 4.5 star hotel with 5 star service and an overall enthusiasm that money doesn’t always buy. Much has changed in Brisbane over the past 40 years but one thing remains the same. Treating your special lady (or man) to a night here is still sure to impress.

Details // Urban Brisbane
Where // 345 Wickham Terrace, Brisbane.
Costs // From $159 per night (but keep an eye out for specials).
Hot Tip // Proud owners of a large sedan or 4WD should think twice about entering the car park, which is tighter than a ’70s body shirt.
Contacts // www.urbanbrisbane.com.au, (07) 3831 6177.

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