Fortitude Valley, or ‘The Valley’ as it is affectionately known, has an edgy excitement all its own and some of the best shopping, drinking and dining in Brisbane. But it hasn’t always been this way. Long before Ovolo The Valley opened its doors, The Valley was a very different place. In 1949, on the centenary of its founding, local retailers boasted that Fortitude Valley was “one of the greatest commercial centres in Queensland”. A few decades later the historic precinct had gone to seed, earning a dubious reputation as a red-light district and criminal haven. The Valley was so rough when I was growing up that even walking around in broad daylight was considered dangerous. Thirty years ago you wouldn’t be seen dead here (then again, maybe you would). Thanks to a multibillion-dollar urban renewal project in the mid-1990s, Fortitude Valley is once again a fashionable hub.
With sassy fashion and funky homewares, excellent restaurants, ambient bars and hip lodgings, there has never been a better time to check-in to Ovolo The Valley. I know I’m going to love this hotel as soon as I walk in. There is funky art throughout the lobby, the colours are bright, the staff are friendly, and there’s a lolly bar. And the good stuff keeps coming.
Ovolo The Valley has a rooftop swimming pool, a gym, sauna and standard Ovolo Hotels complimentary inclusions such as continental breakfast, high speed Wi-Fi, in-room mini bar, and free evening drinks. When you’re travelling on a budget – or even if you’re not – little extras like these make a difference. It was lovely being able to treat ourselves during our stay without having to spend any extra. Not surprisingly, the Ovolo Happy Hour gets our stay off to a great start downstairs in the hotel’s trendy bar.
Served in The Parlour and The Library bar areas adjacent to the hotel restaurant ZA ZA TA, the complimentary Happy Hour at Ovolo The Valley is just like a traditional happy hour except for one thing. You don’t have to pay. The music is pumping, the staff are friendly and the crowd is sophisticated yet fun. Décor is best described as a 1940s cocktail soiree meets mid century Parisian glamour with a dash of traditional Queenslander architecture thrown in. It might sound a bit eclectic – and it is – but it works.
Before we know it, it is time to head through to dinner at ZA ZA TA, the hotel’s Tel Aviv inspired bar and vegetarian restaurant which blends Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. Dishes are designed to be shared and highlight Middle Eastern flavours and Queensland’s local produce. Wood smoked charcoal flavours add a multi-layered robustness to many of the dishes on offer with something to suit every palate. Even if you’re not vegetarian, this well-priced restaurant is a hit.
Upstairs our room is equally impressive, with rich colours, lush furnishings and cool commissioned artworks that make for a very pleasant change from the usual bland hotel wall art. Welcome tech savvy touches such as a large flat screen television with Google Chromecast, charging ports throughout the room, and Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice service add to our accommodation’s appeal.
Our room has a bathroom with a large walk in shower and twin sinks, plus essentials such as cotton buds, a shower cap and the option to call reception for extra complimentary items such as razors. Storage throughout the room is plentiful and there’s a guest laundry downstairs if you need to do some washing. The (free) hotel wi-fi is the fastest I’ve come across in my travels.
The mini-bar is also free and includes a few cans of locally brewed beer, bottled water, a mini bottle of white and red wine, two cans of Coke (one regular and one unleaded), one juice, and a sparkling water. A complimentary Loot Bag takes the place of snacks in the mini bar and includes a selection of nibbles such as a Tim Tam, Chupa Chup, and a packet of chips. This can be enjoyed while you’re at the hotel or you can take it with you.
If you’re travelling with your partner or a friend, you can call for another Loot Bag so you don’t have to divvy up the snacks. I surrendered the Tim Tam and the Curlywurly to my husband Trevor because I really, really love him. A lot. Ovolo Hotel’s 80s Spotify playlist was so good that I added it to my Spotify account. The Depeche Mode song “Just Can’t Get Enough” says it all. One night at this irresistible Brisbane hotel is simply not enough.
Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Ovolo The Valley and isn’t ashamed to admit that she knows the words to most of the songs on the Ovolo 80s Spotify playlist.
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.