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Gambaro Hotel

Paddington was once home to the city’s working class but this inner city suburb has since been transformed into a trendy and vibrant entertainment hub. Home to a thriving restaurant and bar scene and the famous Suncorp Stadium, there is plenty to keep you entertained around here. Especially if you are staying at Gambaro Hotel, home to Brisbane’s famous Gambaro Seafood Restaurant. I grew up in Paddington when it was far less trendy than it is now. One of my first dining memories is going to the original Gambaro Seafood Restaurant with my parents.

In hindsight, I suspect the babysitting for their anniversary dinner fell through. While they probably weren’t overly thrilled to have a chatty seven year old tagging along on their romantic night out, I loved every minute of my first-ever restaurant experience. You can still dine at the iconic Gambaro Seafood Restaurant which has been dishing up some of the city’s best seafood since the 1970s. We had dinner at Gambaro Seafood Restaurant while we were staying at the hotel and had a superb evening.

The iconic Gambaro’s seafood dining experience is far more upmarket than it was when I was a child. However, you can still order classic fish and chips (which is the first Gambaro’s dish I ever ate) or a fancy hot or cold seafood platter. These days there is also Gambaro’s Black Hide Steakhouse Restaurant across the road if you prefer steak to seafood. Given the Gambaro family has been in the restaurant business since the 1950s, it’s no surprise the dining options at this hotel are excellent.

Gambaro Seafood Restaurant interior
Gambaro Seafood Restaurant
Scallops with squid ink cauliflower, and chocolate chilli butter
Scallops with squid ink cauliflower, and chocolate chilli butter

Gambaro Hotel itself is the epitome of urban chic with subdued yet stylish decor in muted grays and blacks, complemented by striking original art works. It is a sexy hotel with a masculine edge which seems fitting given its proximity to one of Brisbane’s most famous sporting venues. If you want to treat your sports-loving man (or lady) to a special getaway, this boutique 68 room hotel is the place.

Gambaro Hotel entrance
Gambaro Hotel 24 hour reception

Gambaro Hotel is located on the edge of Brisbane’s CBD within easy reach of several different public transport options. Young socialites started moving into Paddington in the late 80s and early 90s and the suburb was transformed into a local hot spot with a thriving drinking, dining and shopping scene. Most of the area’s boutiques, bars and cafes are housed in historic buildings and workers’ cottages. Brisbane City Council’s excellent Brisbane Greeter program includes tours of Paddington which are well worth doing, even if you’re a local. Bookings are required but the tours which tend to run for two or three hours are free.

JG Suite at Gambaro Hotel
JG Suite at Gambaro Hotel for a special occasion
Gambaro Hotel view
Suncorp Stadium is handy
Gambaro Hotel corner suite
Corner suite bedroom

All rooms offer bathing pleasure with large marble bathrooms containing a rain shower with his and hers vanities and Appelles hair, body and bath amenities. Other in room features include a Bose iPhone clock radio, bath robes, and pillow menu. Many of the room categories have got different configurations and room layouts so it pays to check the website for further information when you book. For example, some Petrie Rooms have a balcony while others overlook a beautiful fish sculpture in the atrium of the hotel. While you might think a Petrie balcony room would be preferable, this stunning artwork changes throughout the day, depending on the light filtering in from the open skylight or when evening falls and it is highlighted with moody lighting.

Gambaro Hotel fish sculpture
Fish sculpture in the atrium

There is also a ‘hidden’ outdoor terrace on level 3 which offers stunning sunset views and a place to enjoy a quiet BYO beverage or two, particularly if there is a on concert on at Suncorp Stadium. Save yourself the price of a ticket and check into this stylish hotel instead, where the music is yours to enjoy on the terrace at no extra charge. Given the rising price of live concerts, a night here may well be more affordable too.

Gambaro Hotel terrace
Sit back with a drink and enjoy the show

If you have a little more to spend, Paddington Rooms have views of the surrounding historic workers’ cottages and Suncorp Stadium. Noise isn’t a problem as all rooms come with triple glazed windows and doors, however on game nights Caxton Street will be louder than usual. However, you do get to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and superb people watching from your balcony. The only downside of a stay here is the parking which costs $35 per night with not much available on the street due to the two-hour parking limit which is enforced around the stadium. However, you can park at Gambaro for free for three hours if you want to come in for lunch or dinner. The hotel carpark is small so confirm your parking request when you book your room or opt for a five minute taxi or bus ride from Brisbane’s CBD instead.

A la carte breakfast for hotel guests (and anyone else who would like to drop in) is served next door at linen napped tables at Gambaro Hotel’s MG Bar. To get the most from this menu, it’s a good idea to opt for an accommodation package rather than a room only rate. This includes breakfast as the more substantial dishes on the breakfast menu such as the prawn and chorizo omelette and Gambaro Big Breakfast range from $22.50 to $24.50. Excellent coffee rounds things out nicely, as does the ever changing street scene outside the bar.

Gambaro Hotel breakfast menu
Gambaro Hotel breakfast menu
Eggs Benedict at Gambaro Hotel
Eggs Benedict at Gambaro Hotel

If you want to extend your stay with a movie at Palace Cinemas followed by afternoon coffee at a nearby cafe, it takes less than a minute to walk to The Barracks, an imposing-looking brick building which originally housed police barracks and the notorious Petrie Terrace Gaol. Back in the late 1800s, few people visited this place by choice but now they can’t seem to stay away from this upmarket dining and entertainment precinct. If you’re checking in on game day, it’s worth noting the area around Suncorp Stadium can get more crowded than that notorious old gaol so allow some extra time. It’s just one more reason to stay at Gambaro Hotel. There would be nothing better than retreating to your luxurious room after the game instead of trying to catch a bus or hail down a cab at the end of the night.

Disclosure: The stayed and dined as a guest of Gambaro Hotel and loved revisiting Paddington which has certainly changed for the better since she was a child.

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.