I’ve got a soft spot for the Brisbane Marriott Hotel. When it opened 21 years ago, there was a public open day, such was the excitement surrounding this fancy new five star hotel overlooking the Brisbane River. My husband and I toured the hotel and, liking what we saw, took up two of the Grand Opening Special Deals. We bought a one night stay in a standard room including breakfast for $99 and one night at $129 for a club room. However, we never ended up using the $99 voucher. After sinking into the plump Chesterfield lounges in the Executive Lounge and sipping Champagne overlooking the Brisbane River, we upgraded our $99 voucher to a club room one and came back and did it all again.
Our five star obsession (and our love of club lounges) began at this hotel so we couldn’t wait to see what the Brisbane Marriott Hotel looked like after its recent $20 million refurbishment. Things were pretty quiet down this end of the river when the Marriott first opened. These days it’s a different story. With the rebirth of the neighbouring Riverside Precinct and Howard Smith Wharves, the hotel now has Brisbane’s most popular entertainment precinct on its doorstep.
It was easy to see where the renovation money went when we got to our room. The traditional and somewhat old-fashioned décor we remembered from our last stay in 2008 had been replaced by new furnishings in modern neutral tones that reminded us of the Australian bush. Original marble in the bathroom had been restored and was complemented by a new-look shower with modern cream-coloured tiling and a powerful shower head. Our favourite new feature was the chaise lounge next to the window which offered the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the Brisbane River view.
It was large enough to serve as an extra bed for a third guest; a clever design touch for those travelling with a child. As part of the renovation, all rooms were also fitted with new lighting and air conditioning controls which front desk staff can adjust when guests check-in. That evening we discovered the Executive Lounge had also undergone some major changes. Most of these were good, although we did find ourselves nostalgically longing for those plush, studded Chesterfield lounges.
In their place were dark and light grey bucket chairs, and bistro style seating with matching tables for breakfast. The Executive Lounge looked a lot more corporate than it used to, but the service was as warm and friendly as ever. The lounge also felt more spacious with the new look design. The new design also fixed a problem with the original lounge, which looked posh but didn’t have enough seating at peak times. The Chesterfields looked fabulous but took up a lot of valuable floor space. We missed them for nostalgic reasons but thought the new-look seating was a smarter choice.
Downstairs the hotel’s restaurant, Motion Dining, had also been redesigned. There were now high tables in M Bar for a drink or casual dinner. Diners could also be seated overlooking the grill, a great option for solo travellers as they get dinner and a show sitting here. Friday and Saturday nights play host to the hotel’s famous seafood buffet which has been going for as long as we can remember. There are two sittings, one at 5pm and a second one at 7pm.
Each buffet dinner sitting was fully booked on the night we stayed. The 5pm sitting is slightly cheaper and popular with young families; 7pm attracts groups of friends, couples and families with older children. We don’t eat seafood but this didn’t matter as Motion Dining also has an a la carte menu. One thing to note is all diners have to adhere to the two sitting times on weekends, even if they’re not having the buffet. Everybody lines up at the entrance to the restaurant and staff take you through to be seated at the appointed time. All of the seafood looked superb, especially the platters. We also liked the way the refrigerated buffet cabinets lining one wall displayed the food and kept everything lovely and fresh.
Our a la carte dinner was impressive, especially the lamb rack which was melt-in-the-mouth tender and perfectly cooked. With steaks and the lamb priced around the $35 mark, Motion Dining is well priced for a five star hotel. We would come back to Motion Dining again, but would choose a weeknight when it was quieter and there was no need to queue. If you are from interstate or overseas and want to enjoy prime steaks and Queensland’s famous seafood, this is the place to come. Just remember to book as locals love it too.
Breakfast is also served here and features something you don’t usually see at a mainstream five star hotel – as-you-like-it eggs and omelettes ordered at – and delivered to – your table. It was lovely being able to relax and chat over breakfast without having to hover alongside the egg station waiting for food. The Brisbane Marriott Hotel is looking better than ever after its $20 million renovation and has moved with the times without losing any of its original grace and charm. If only you could still book a room including breakfast here for $99.
Disclosure: The writers stayed as guests of the Brisbane Marriott Hotel.
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.