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When my husband Trevor and I started dating, we used to come for an after work drink at the Hilton Brisbane. Almost 30 years later we still love the Modernist design and buzzing atmosphere at the chic lobby bar. Unlike us, the hotel is looking just as cool these days. Staff are at the top of their game when we pull into the porte cochere. Lawrence, who has 5-star-friendly-yet-professional down pat, gives us a warm welcome and points us to the lift which takes us upstairs to reception. While we have visited the bar many times before, staying at this hotel is a rare treat and we are looking forward to our romantic staycation.

Hilton Brisbane atrium
Looking down at the iconic Hilton Brisbane atrium

The Hilton’s soaring Harry Seidler-designed atrium still has an undeniable wow factor with the chic red circular banquet surrounding the Vintaged Bar in the lobby providing a striking contrast to the otherwise black and white decor. Our stay takes place during COVID and the check in team do a terrific job of keeping everyone happy, healthy and well as part of the Hilton CleanStay program. A charming chap called Mark chats with people waiting to check in and discretely ensures everyone stays 1.5m apart. If you didn’t know about CleanStay you wouldn’t notice what he was doing, it’s very cleverly done.

Our room is ready and has a hygenic seal across the door to confirm it has been fully sanitised. However, I’m more interested in the beautiful view of Brisbane City Hall. After freshening up in the marble bathroom, which comes complete with sweet smelling Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries, we take the glass lift down to the lobby bar for a pre-dinner drink. Trevor and I have many fond memories of this CBD drinking spot and we add to them again this evening, surrounded by cool tunes and the lively chatter of happy customers.

Hilton Brisbane view
View of City Hall from Room 2106

Service is warm and friendly and the people watching is superb with many hotel guests heading out to the Gabba to watch a highly anticipated football final. Contactless drink ordering is available but a staff member is so quick coming over with two glasses of chilled water (a thoughtful and appreciated touch) and a paper drinks menu that we order the ‘old school’ way. While the paper menu doesn’t look as elegant as the regular one, staff can give a fresh menu to each guest and keep everyone COVID safe. We sample a South Side cocktail which arrives topped with a floating mint leaf and tastes delicious.

South Side cocktail
South Side cocktail at the Hilton Brisbane

We have a table reserved for dinner at Vintaged Bar + Grill which is a good thing as we overhear the restaurant is booked out until after 8pm. If you are dining alone, there is plenty to keep you entertained with travellers constantly coming and going throughout the lobby but we are happy to gaze into each other’s eyes and enjoy our romantic night out. Vintaged was only opening on Friday and Saturday nights when we visited but this will no doubt change when border restrictions lift. The menu was somewhat smaller than usual with four options for entree, main and dessert respectively. However, there was plenty of choice. In fact, it was difficult to decide what to have, the menu was so appealing.

I began with a salad featuring roasted baby beets served with Meredith goat’s cheese, sumac yoghurt and toasted walnuts and managed to try a delicious bite of Trevor’s crispy skin pork belly on spiced apple before it disappeared. Mains were an eye fillet steak from the blackboard menu and roasted free range lamb with curly kale, black garlic, eggplant puree and cumin dressing. Wattle seed and marscapone tiramisu and The Vintaged Sundae (served sans whipped cream as requested) provided a sweet finish. At $46 for two courses or $63 for three courses, this is one of Brisbane’s best fine dining bargains. Just remember to book or you could be disappointed.

Hilton Brisbane pork belly
Crispy skin pork belly on spiced apple
Roasted free range lamb served medium rare for mains

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The Vintaged Sundae
Wattle seed and marscapone tiramisu

Breakfast is a lavish buffet with staff serving guests instead of people helping themselves. We are content to relax in our room for the rest of the morning although the pool looked very nice albeit it a little chilly. Hilton Brisbane is also one of the few Australian hotels with a full size tennis court for those who fancy a bit of exercise other than swimming during their stay.

Hilton Brisbane pool
Hilton Brisbane swimming pool

It’s not easy to find an upmarket business hotel which also ticks the box for romance, but Hilton Brisbane delivers on both counts. When it comes to timeless appeal and five-star style, the iconic Hilton Brisbane has most certainly still ‘got it’. Our romantic staycation made me fall in love with this CBD hotel (and my handsome beau) all over again.

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Hilton Brisbane.

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.