The Royal on the Park and I both arrived in Brisbane in 1969. Me, with an indignant squawk at the Mater Hospital; the Parkroyal Motor Inn (as it was known back then) with the kind of media fanfare usually reserved for royal weddings. Finally having a luxurious accommodation option like the Parkroyal was a grand occasion for a ‘country town’ like Brisbane and the hotel, with its fancy scalloped exterior and sexy porte-cochere, was the talk of the town.
The Parkroyal Motor Inn was built at the (then) astronomical cost of $3 million and was considered the height of sophistication. Over the years it has hosted all the big names from prime ministers, princes and princesses to rock and roll royalty like Kylie Minogue, Elton John and David Bowie. Show-biz celebrities and comedians were also regular guests. John Cleese had the staff in fits when he got behind reception and began handing out keys. Royal on the Park has aged far more gracefully than I have and as they say in showbiz, it still has that ‘magical razzle dazzle’.
It’s true the hotel is no longer the accommodation of choice for visiting glitterati but this is a good thing as you never know what you might see. Back in the 80s my friend caught a glimpse of her idols Spandau Ballet lounging by the hotel’s pool. She wasn’t such a big fan after that. Apparently the lily-white English pop stars were far less alluring in their Speedos than they were on stage.
When the hotel celebrated its one year anniversary, the General Manager of the time said “We have learned that luxury air-conditioned suites, large pools and fine foods by themselves are not enough. There must be the human touch.” Over the years Royal on the Park has had a number of different names but this hasn’t changed.
We are greeting warmly by the staff on arrival and directed to our Spa Suite on the 9th floor. The lobby has been decked out with chic new armchairs but the wall-to-wall wood panelling makes it look a little dated, especially compared to the rooms. These have recently undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment and are fashionably modern, not to mention huge. Even the standard rooms are enormous by today’s standards. The old saying “they don’t build ‘em like they used to” certainly rings true when it comes to accommodation.
Our suite has a separate bedroom and lounge overlooking the Botanic Gardens and two different bathing areas. One has a standard shower while the other has a spa tub with a view of the lounge area and the garden’s leafy tree tops. Deluxe Morrissey toiletries add an extra touch of class. Double-glazing was added to the windows during the renovation and our room is almost eerily quiet. It comes as a shock to see peak hour traffic whizzing past on the street below. Not that we are complaining. A good night’s sleep uninterrupted by the constant noise that surrounds most CBD hotels (yes, 4am rubbish truck, I’m talking about you) has us wishing all rooms were this well insulated.
After we wake up we enjoy a cup of coffee from the Nespresso machine in our room then head out for a stroll in the gardens. Light sparkles on the Brisbane River, joggers speed past us and birds twitter prettily in the trees overhead. We take a seat on one of the benches and enjoy the view before returning to the hotel. After checking our emails (the hotel has free wi-fi throughout) we head downstairs for breakfast at The Walnut Restaurant. We also had an excellent dinner here the night before.
Along with an array of fresh fruit and pastries, the breakfast buffet offers an extensive hot selection and a juicer accompanied by a bowl of freshly cut fruit ready for juicing. We order lattes which arrive promptly and are on par with a first-rate coffee shop, something that is a rarity for hotel coffee. During breakfast we notice the waiters making a special effort to chat with solo diners, many of whom appear to be regulars. Everyone from the maids to the managers wears a smile and when they ask us how our day has been, they seem genuinely interested in our reply. Service throughout the hotel has an old-style charm that never goes out of style. Thanks to an impressive renovation, Royal on the Park has managed to embrace the traditions of the past while moving with the times. It might not be the newest or fanciest hotel in town but it’s still one of the best.
Disclosure: The writer was a guest of Royal on the Park.
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.