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Brisbane has myriad hotels to choose from but the following offer a touch of history, with an engaging mix of old meets new. From World War II Generals to 70s gangsters and 80s popstars, some of Brisbane’s hotels certainly have a tale or two to tell. Here are some of Brisbane’s most fascinating, and occasionally scandalous, hotels.

Treasury Heritage Hotel

This beautiful old building, which once housed the Lands Administration Building, has a hidden staircase from room 105 to room 305. This was the secret stairway for the minister and his staff to discreetly exit the building. Rumour has it the stairway was also used by mistresses and those attending secret meetings. Treasury Heritage Hotel matches old world charm with modern luxury in the centre of Brisbane’s bustling CBD. The pick of rooms has to be the suites, some of which have original exposed beams and sky lights, along with 18ft high ceilings, a king-sized bed, lounge and dining area and two large LCD TVs. With a private balcony and luxuriously appointed marble bathroom, these rooms evoke a sense of opulent indulgence.

Treasury Heritage Hotel
Suite at the Treasury Heritage Hotel

Royal on the Park

Once known as the Park Royal Hotel, this hotel hosted some of the world’s biggest rock stars in the 70s and 80s, with the likes of Elton John, Sting and Spandau Ballet all having a fine time at this iconic abode. Now a boutique hotel with views of the Botanic Gardens and larger than average rooms, Royal on the Park offers Luxury Spa Suites with a large in-room spa tub with adjoining lounge/dining area and modern bathroom and bedroom. I suspect the spa tub was the place to be in the 70s and 80s. This enormous suite is a steal at around $260 a night, so bring some nostalgic tunes and sip Champagne in the tub as you salute the flares and shoulder pads which made this hotel great.

Royal on the Park spa
Royal on the Park Spa Suite

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The Johnson

The Johnson is one of the newest hotels to arrive in Brisbane but in years gone by few locals wanted to visit this building as it used to house the Department of Main Roads, where people came to pay speeding fines and their registration fees. The Johnson is Brisbane’s first art hotel and displays the works of iconic Australian artist Michael Johnson. With bright abstract paintings that decorate each room and a modern fitout, The Johnson is a great place to hangout for a work or leisure stay. The pick for this hotel is the Michael Johnson Penthouse, a three-bedroom apartment which has a stunning view of Brisbane’s skyline from the large balcony. You can enjoy a dinner party with up to 10 friends here, just remember to bring your credit card.

The Johnson
Michael Johnson Penthouse at The Johnson

Ovolo Incholm

When General Douglas MacArthur was stationed in Brisbane and wanted to visit his personal physician, he would head up to Wickham Terrace to what is now the Ovolo Inchcolm. Back then, the building housed the private medical suites of specialists and doctors. Nowadays, it is a stylish boutique hotel with old fashioned charm combined with modern styling. The historic lift is original (although, thankfully, the mechanism driving it is modern) and is extremely roomy as it used to carry stretchers from one floor to another. The MacArthur Suite, named after ‘guess who’, has an impressive four poster king size bed and a large free standing bath plus all the modern amenities one could wish for.

If you’re after some things to do in Brisbane, try some of our favourite activities along the Brisbane River, take a Brisbane Greeters free tour of West End, or buy unique handmade souvenirs at Brisbane’s best markets. We’ve also written an Ultimate Guide to Brisbane.

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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.