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Ovolo Inchcolm Reception

Brisbane’s hotel scene is booming with an impressive array of new and notable accommodation, ranging from trendy big name five-star digs to a boutique 1920s art deco delight and funky street art hotel. Inhale the scent of tropical blooms at the Botanic Gardens in the Central Business District, where you can enjoy a chilled brew at a boutique riverside brewery or feel the wind in your hair as you paddle down the Brisbane River. Conveniently placed bridges link both sides of the river and the jaunty red ferries plying the city reaches are free to ride.

Brisbane’s lively inner-city suburbs have a fascinating history, chic urban vibe and some truly unique boutique hotels. Explore the bars and clubs in Fortitude Valley, where pulsing bass mingles with the sounds of laughter and good times. Boutiques filled with floaty dresses, glittering jewellery, and eclectic homewares line trendy James Street, while the roar of the crowd fills Paddington’s sports stadium down the road from Gambaro Hotel. Here are nine of the coolest hotels in the Queensland capital, whether you’re a local after a staycation or an interstate visitor seeking a brilliant Brisbane break.

Gambaro Hotel

Once home to the city’s working-class, Paddington has been transformed into a trendy restaurant and bar hotspot. It is also home to the stylish Gambaro Hotel, a boutique love nest that’s within walking distance of Suncorp Stadium for the footy fans out there. The hotel is chic and sexy with a refined atmosphere that appeals to urbane travellers of all ages. Contemporary artwork and décor featuring tones of taupe, grey and burnished gold create a sultry and elegant vibe in each of the 68 rooms. If you want to impress a new lover, this trendy yet sophisticated hotel is the place to stay. The Gambaro family originally built their long-standing hospitality reputation as restaurateurs so it’s no surprise the in-house dining is excellent. The iconic Gambaro Restaurant has been dishing up some of the city’s best seafood since the 1970s and is a favourite with visiting movie stars and local and international celebrities.

Gambaro Hotel
Gambaro Hotel

The Westin Brisbane

Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, The Westin Brisbane is the perfect hotel for soothing your soul. Rooms come with lavender pillow mist to ensure a restful night’s sleep and the in-house Heavenly Spa has a menu filled with luxurious treatments that conclude with a soothing cup of herbal tea and fruity chocolate truffles. However, the hotel’s major drawcard is the sweeping resort-style pool with its swim up bar, elevated day beds, and stone sun loungers that are partially submerged in water. This watery oasis in the heart of the CBD is the perfect spot to soak away your stress and enjoy a poolside snack from paddock-to-plate restaurant Eden’s Table. Complimentary guest activities include pilates and yoga classes and a picturesque five-kilometre jog along the Brisbane River with the hotel’s Run Concierge. Or you could simply sit back, relax and enjoy another fruity Queensland-themed cocktail by the pool.

Westin Pool with swim up bar
Westin Brisbane pool with swim up bar

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Ovolo Inchcolm

Back in the 1920s when this ornate building housed medical specialists, visitors probably weren’t so eager to step inside but a night at this art-deco-inspired hotel is just what the doctor ordered. Each room at the Ovolo Inchcolm is a different shape and size, with individual décor designed to suit the space. Rooms in the old medical suites are oozing with charm, while those who need a bit more space can enjoy a stay in one of the more modern, larger accommodation options available in a cleverly added annexe at the rear of the hotel. Historic design details abound, but one of the most striking features is the metal-meshed lift which was originally designed to accommodate stretcher patients. And, yes, it still works, although the hand-operated controls have thankfully been replaced by modern technology. While it’s tempting to stay in and soak up the Charleston-era glamour at the bar, the nearby Queen Street Mall beckons with its impressive array of big-name retailers and boutiques. When hunger strikes, head to Jimmy’s on the Mall, a two-storey open air dining venue with great people watching, excellent wood-fired pizza, and an Australian-a focussed wine list.

Ovolo Inchcolm
Ovolo Inchcolm

TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel

Surrounded by Fortitude Valley’s famous bar scene and funky laneways, Brisbane’s first street-art hotel is unashamedly hip. Level one rooms at TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel feature private courtyards with striking artworks by acclaimed street artists. All rooms types have a maximum occupancy of two. In other words, you are unlikely to find any kids here. Head downstairs to Chur Burger for a Shredded Swine packed with pulled pork, Chur BBQ sauce, red slaw, and fennel mayo, or revel in the eclectic charms of nearby Winn Lane. This vibrant little social hub is a hive of activity for Brisbane’s creative types. It is easy to spend an afternoon here browsing the eclectic mix of art, design, and fashion stores and talking to up-and-coming designers.

The Calile Hotel

The Calile Hotel channels the city’s enviable weather to deliver a chic 175 room Miami-style resort experience in an urban setting, complete with alfresco dining, cabanas, sun loungers, and ‘beautiful people’ who come to James Street to shop and be seen. Modern Greek restaurant Hellenika can be found here, along with spacious accommodation featuring three different colour palettes: pink, green or blue. Superb people watching is available from rooms with a balcony overlooking the retro-inspired peppermint green pool. If it’s too cold to swim, you can always lounge in a cabana and enjoy lunch served poolside. Some of Brisbane’s best high-end shopping and boutiques can be found in the surrounding streets, such as flagship store for acclaimed label sass & bide, delectable foodie bookstore Scrumptious Reads and Libertine Parfumerie which houses the world’s most coveted scents.

The Calile

Emporium Hotel South Bank

Emporium Hotel South Bank is ideal for arts and culture aficionados as it’s located in the heart of the South Bank cultural precinct. A leafy enclave filled with theatres, galleries, museums and weekend markets featuring up-and-coming designers and artisans. While the décor is classy rather than flashy, there are plenty of cutting-edge design flourishes such as a glam gilt-edged mirror doubling as an oversize TV screen and clear glass privacy wall in the bathroom which turns opaque at the touch of a button. More expensive rooms have stellar river views, as does the rooftop infinity pool and cocktail bar where you can enjoy perfectly-chilled drinks overlooking the city. This hotel’s laid-back yet stylish vibe encapsulates the charm of Queensland’s river city capital.

W Brisbane

With it’s glam pool deck, designer in-house gift store, and in-house Music Curator, W Brisbane is almost too-cool-for-school.  However, a diamante-encrusted flip-flop, banana and pineapple sculpture near the Welcome Desk makes it clear this hip hotel doesn’t take itself too seriously. Most of the accommodation at this hotel overlooks the Brisbane River and even the most affordable rooms are huge. Clever design touches such as a boomerang-shaped coffee table, pink pineapple ice bucket and indigenous-inspired artwork add genuine Australian charm and are sure to raise a smile. The much-lauded in-house restaurant, Three Blue Ducks, originally hails from Byron Bay and features stellar views of the Brisbane River and equally impressive Mod-Oz cuisine, such as steamed mussels, with chilli jam, coconut sambal, and oven roasted flat bread. The alfresco dining venue does double-duty as the hotel’s breakfast venue, with a generous spread of high-end fare.

W Brisbane entry
Marriott International Hotel

Crystalbrook Vincent

Crystalbrook Vincent, a boutique six-storey art hotel carved into the cliff under the Story Bridge, has sleek, contemporary rooms and features works by Australian artist Vincent Fantauzzo. A four-time winner of the Archibald People’s Choice Award, Fantauzzo is renowned for his realistic portraits of famous Australians, including Heath Ledger, Baz Luhrmann, Matt Moran, and his wife, actress Asher Keddie. Fantauzzo’s prints adorn each room and can also be viewed throughout the hotel. A rooftop pool and bar make the most of the stunning views over the Brisbane River and the CBD is close, but not too close for those who want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind. When you’re surrounded by some of Brisbane’s best and most lively restaurants, cafes and bars at the Howard Smith Wharves precinct, it’s tempting to make a night of it. Don’t miss the shimmering, sophisticated cocktails at Mr Percival’s wooden rotunda perched over the river, or head to inner-city brewery Felon’s Brewing Co. for a beer or two. Finish the night at Crystalbrook Vincent’s rustic and relaxed Italian eatery, Polpetta, with a bowl of tagliolini with Queensland prawns, chilli, lemon, and bottarga. Polpetta feeds the body while complimentary art tours, in-room art channels and libraries feed the soul. The hotel also has an excellent gym, although it is tempting to skip this in favour of a stroll or jog along the sparkling Brisbane River.

Get arty at The Fantauzzo

FV by Peppers

Inspired by New York’s Flatiron building, FV by Peppers features three separate towers and myriad of high-end amenities including a 20-seat private cinema, yoga studio, 24-hour gym, and three private spa ‘soak and sip’ lounges, each with their own bar and dining area. The heated u-shaped skyline pool with in-pool seating and spectacular views of Brisbane’s CBD is an Instagrammer’s dream. The rooms at this apartment hotel is understated, with tasteful furnishings and décor, high-end appliances and enclosed balconies. Breakfast is available at Six by FV, a Modern Australian restaurant with a focus on paddock-to-plate dining. In the evening, Fortitude Valley’s bars, clubs and live music venues beckon, as do the many excellent Cantonese restaurants in nearby Chinatown.

If you’re looking for accommodation in Brisbane, we have reviewed the Treasury Hotel, The Calile, Ovolo The Valley, W Brisbane, Capri by Fraser Brisbane, Hilton Brisbane, The Johnson, NEXT Hotel Brisbane, Sage Hotel James Street, The Westin Brisbane, Oaks Brisbane Festival Suites, Royal on the Park, Ibis Styles Elizabeth Street, Sofitel Brisbane, Crystalbrook Vincent, The Inchcolm by Ovolo, Alex Perry Hotel & Apartments, and Pullman Brisbane Airport.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.