The sandstone building housing the five star Treasury Hotel was touted as “the most splendid public edifice in the Australian colony” when it was built in 1886. After accommodating the Queensland Art Gallery and numerous government departments, the former Land Administration Building was redeveloped as one of Australia’s most beautiful historic hotels in 1995. We checked in for a one night stay as an early celebration for my husband’s birthday. Valet parking is available on William Street. Simply pull up and a porter will magically emerge through the ornate stained glass doors.
Check in was warm and friendly and we noticed lots of lovely, small touches during our stay. For example, the decorative bowl of treats sitting on reception change twice a day. On arrival there were pears so glossy they reminded us of a still life painting. On the morning we departed huge, juicy mandarins were piled high in the bowl. In the evening there were individually wrapped chocolates. When we walked into our parlour king room, it practically screamed ‘date night’ (in a posh voice to match the glamorous surrounds, of course). There were four metre high ceilings, elaborate cornice work, a chandelier and fireplace which added a touch of romance, even though it was no longer in use.
Dark wood furnishings, traditional fabrics and a spacious marble bathroom complemented the heritage feel. Our room at the Treasury Hotel looked like it had originally been a grand office in the 1800s, complete with a stone balcony outside. The French balcony doors remain locked these days for security reasons but it wasn’t hard to imagine our room’s original 1800s owner striding along the balcony as he contemplated the value of parcels of land.
As we headed downstairs to Ryan’s on the Park for a pre-dinner drink, we immediately forgot about the machinations of the late 1800s public service. Did somebody say Happy Hour? We discovered Ryan’s has one of Brisbane’s best and most elegant Happy Hours, with $5 glasses of Chandon and other quality wines served in stylish surrounds for a bargain price.
The elegant old-world bar had deep, comfortable chairs overlooking Queen’s Park and the sandstone facade of the Treasury Casino across the road. We skipped the main bar where corporate types were talking shop and enjoyed our drinks in the plush chairs in the second seating area near reception. All of the hotel’s evening dining options are located across the road at the casino. If you are dining at Fat Noodle or Black Hide, there is a handy underground tunnel leading from the hotel to the casino.
Black Hide by Gambaro at Treasury Brisbane has monthly dining events and we had timed our visit perfectly for Truffle Month. But why the long name? Black Hide is owned by the Gambaro family who have been running restaurants for more than 60 years. My first ‘fancy dinner’ as a child was at their Paddington restaurant. I can still remember how blown away I was by the delicious food and the thrill of being waited on (although my parents probably weren’t so keen on having a seven year old tagging along on their romantic night out).
If you are celebrating a special occasion or in search of romance, Black Hide by Gambaro at Treasury Brisbane is the place. It’s a ‘date night’ restaurant rather than somewhere you drop into for a bite to eat. With such elegant and romantic surrounds, the music on the night we visited was a bit strange. It reminded us of a Spotify ‘Workout Mix’ with up-tempo tracks and dance music. Great for working out to but not good as background dinner music, especially not for such a stylish restaurant. However, this was the only misstep during what was otherwise a fabulous dinner.
Our steaks were cooked to perfection and the staff were charming, professional and didn’t miss a beat even when things got busy. Since it was Truffle Month at Black Hide, we shared a truffle butter and fresh truffle steak topper ($30) which was attractively arranged on top of our steaks. While $30 might seem a lot to pay in addition to the Wagyu steaks, it is well worth it as truffles are only available for a short time each year and the ones at Black Hide are delicious.
The earthy flavour of the truffles complemented the rich marbling of the Australian Wagyu perfectly. With such a rich dish, the smaller 200 gram steaks and two sides were perfect for us. There were two other Truffle Month specials: gnocchi served with parmesan cream and black truffle ($45) and another steak topper with truffle butter, truffles and truffle fried egg ($35). It is worth saving room for one of the sweets from the compact dessert menu at Black Hide. Our apple millefeuille tasted as good as it looked and provided a sweet finish.
After a good night’s sleep, we went downstairs for breakfast at The Lab, a restaurant in the hotel building. The name of this restaurant has nothing to do with science, it is an abbreviation of ‘Land Administration Building’. The Lab was one of my favourite fine diners when it used to open for dinner. These days it only serves a la carte breakfast and high tea (such a shame as I used to love dining here in the evening). It was especially enjoyable to return to The Lab and discover the food was as good as ever. If breakfast is included in your stay, you are entitled to order a drink, a continental dish and an item from the hot menu.
Continental choices included a fresh fruit plate, dragon fruit smoothie bowl, or bircher muesli. Hot dishes ranged from a classic cooked breakfast to blueberry hotcakes or my tasty avocado and feta smash. Servings are generous and, unlike some hotels, the coffee is excellent. Treasury Brisbane has plenty of stories to tell and is filled with hidden corners and surprises, such as a secret staircase from room 105 to room 305 which was used by the minister (and mistresses and those attending secret meetings) to discreetly exit the premises. When you stay at the Treasury Brisbane, you won’t be in any hurry to leave this historic building. Check out as late as you can and enjoy every moment.
Disclosure: The writers stayed as guests of Treasury Brisbane and would not hesitate to return for a romantic getaway at this hotel at their own expense.
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