The South Australian capital has loads of affordable accommodation on offer for business travellers. But what if you want to go five-star? Quentin Long finds out.
Evenings can be lonely times for business travellers. Nowhere is the solo nature of a business trip more cruelly reinforced than on a Sunday night in Adelaide, when the small city’s wide, lamp-lit streets hold no-one but you and your taxi driver. (To be fair, even Sydney CBD resembles a country town on a Sunday.)
Adding to the melancholy mood is the fact that the hotel scene in Adelaide is not great. Its CBD rates are the cheapest in Australia, and this reflected by the fact that many hotels are desperately in need of a refurb (you know who you are).
But there are some reliable and stylish gems here, too. The Medina Treasury is a standout; as is Majestic Roof Garden. Their rates are surprisingly reasonable, too, so in this town you can’t judge a room by its rates.
While searching for an affordable five-star hotel to host my lonely Sunday night stay, I came across the little-known Clarion Soho in a far-flung corner of the CBD.
What to expect
I really wasn’t sure what to expect of the Clarion. It belongs to the Quality Hotels Group – not really a brand that makes me think, “Oh yeah, five-star luxury.” And it isn’t. Clarion is self-rated five-star. Call me cynical, but I always interpret this as: “We think we’re a pretty hot place but don’t have the full suite of services to officially be five star. But if we rate ourselves five star we’ll grab a lot of business by being top of the list and way cheaper than the others on Wotif.”
It’s a risky strategy. Sometimes the room rate is not discounted enough to make up the shortfall between real five-star and self-rated.
But I’m delighted to find the Clarion Soho to be spot-on. When I arrive, no-one rushes out to help me with my many bags, but that’s not really expected of a self-rated five-star anyway.
Deserted but funky lobby
I find the check-in desk in a funky orange and black hallway that acts as a lobby. Others call it minimalist, I say it’s cramped. Exiting the lift on the way to my room, I’m confronted with a claustrophobic polished concrete hallway clad in a strange mesh that gives a cool, designer effect. So far, the hotel feels stylish, simple but a little small.
The room is surprising
So the room comes as a welcome surprise. The space not used by the shrunken lobby and hallways seems to have been donated to the rooms. The Clarion architects made the right compromises – the public areas are small, and so is the bathroom, but my room is huge. There’s also ample natural light. Half the external wall is window, so when I wake in the morning I am surprised to find the room bathed in soft sunlight.
The fit-out is relatively new, with chocolate-coloured timber panelling, eggshell grey walls and dark carpet. It’s a comfortable look and I’m glad I’ve chosen to kip here the night. Now for dinner.
Beware of closed restaurants on a Sunday
Argh – the restaurant is closed on Sunday night. I am offered room service from a sister hotel two blocks away, but opt instead for nearby Bocelli Italian restaurant, a great family-style bistro. I order at the counter and take a number. It’s the perfect place for a pizza, beer and novel – the requisite business traveller’s dinner.
Back in my room, the massive bed is very comfortable for my weary bones. I’m told the bedding is Missoni, which may impress my wife. There’s loads of pillows to sit back against to watch the big screen and snack on over-priced choccies from the mini bar. As a business traveller, this is all I really want.
WHAT’S THE GOSSIP?
“Adelaide’s chic and sleek Clarion Hotel Soho … has 30 luxurious rooms and suites with Italian marble bathrooms, designer furniture, king-sized beds, iPod docking stations, broadband Internet and kitchenettes.”
THE AT VERDICT
The Clarion Soho is a great affordable option for any traveller in Adelaide who thinks a big room, stylish interior, massive comfy bed and huge flat screen is more important than oodles of staff buffing the bling in the lobby.
Where: Clarion Soho, 264 Flinders St, Adelaide.
Notes: Studios are available from $145 per room per night. We paid $xx for a studio room on a Sunday night.
Contact: (08) 8412 5600; www.clarionhotelsoho.com.au