Kim Knight checks into W Brisbane Hotel.
Take a taxi through the Airport Link tunnel off-peak and you’ll be at check-in within around 20 minutes and for less than $60. Via train, it’s a 10-minute walk from the central Roma St station stop.
Check-in experience: The staff wear American camp counsellor normcore and I can only dream of the day my chinos are that neatly pressed. I was a bit intimidated by the front desk, which is really just a series of informal standing stations near a table of refreshing drinks and ceramic drinking vessels. Relax. The “W” stands for whatever you want, whenever you want. These people are here for you.
Room: Wonderful. Spectacular. Marvellous. Fantastic. I know this is reading like a John Campbell script, but these are the actual hotel descriptors. I stayed in a “Spectacular” king room and OMG, the attention to detail. At one point, I was lying on my bed thinking about turning on the TV. I lazily wafted my arm over my head and there was the remote in a little grey felt case that looked like it came direct from somewhere expensive and Scandinavian. Hot pink and teal are not my usual accent colours of choice, but there was so much to love about this room. A multiplicity of coat hangers (why do so many places get this so wrong?). A GHD hairdryer. A Nespresso machine. A giant glass pineapple. A tiny silver crocodile.
Price: From $350 upward.
What’s so good about this place? The design aesthetic is “river dreaming” and Brisbane’s sultry steaminess is everywhere. I loved the corridor panels of polished glass etched with hot pink crocs and beetles and the roof with its night-time moth motif. The Sunshine State’s laidback approach to life is encapsulated in the artwork. Don’t miss the Three Blue Ducks experience (see below) but even if you’re not eating, visit the third floor for artist Mechelle Bounpraseuth’s sculptural homage to Australian gastronomic classics, and the painted wall of local slang and sayings including this very useful piece of advice: “Don’t worry ’bout snakes or spiders, it’s the magpies that’ll get ya.”
And the bad? The lounge chairs in my room were a little firm. The bespoke bird-shaped glass that held my signature “bird in the hand” cocktail was a little awkward to drain without dribbling. You can only swipe your access card on one side of the lift. It was difficult to get the perfect photographic angle on the giant sparkly Jandal in the lobby. At some point, I knew I would have to go outside. At an even more dreadful point, I knew I would have to go home where there are no bespoke bird-shaped cocktail glasses.
What’s in the neighbourhood? The city’s main outdoor shopping strip is less than five minutes walk. Cross the bridge and you’ll be at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and/or the South Bank Parklands in less than 15.
Toiletries: I usually skip the ubiquitous pink stuff in hotel showers, but W’s lemon and sage scented “Bliss” branded products made me smell like a classy cocktail. Viva BrisVegas.
Food and drink: Breakfast salads are a thing and I am a convert. At the morning buffet (the eggs and coffee are bespoke; the marmite is housemade), I piled my plate with tomato and feta one morning, kale, jalapeno and broccoli another. When you start your day this mindfully you can eat as many hot chips as you want later, but you should also consider going back to the Three Blue Ducks for dinner. I was seriously impressed with the slow-baked lamb and rhubarb creme brulee bits of the restaurant’s “paddock to plate” ethos. Two floors down, the Living Room Bar has an “in-house music curator” and the bar staff are lovely. One pulled out his phone to show me a video of how they serve their oysters (dry ice, gin, gorgeous). Technically this bar is in the hotel lobby, but . . . Whatever. Oh, and there’s also a full cocktail cabinet in your room.
The bed: So big it took the entire weekend to get to the other side.
A room with a view? If the carpet with its wavy tidal marks and the wardrobe referencing grass and reeds didn’t say “river” then stand by for the reveal. Swipe your room access card and the drapes open automatically to a spectacular Brisbane River vista that is even more gorgeous at night. (Top tip: If your budget doesn’t stretch to big windows, head to the Wet Deck rooftop bar for an identical aesthetic).
Bathroom: Two shower heads, one bath, real hand soap. Free Wi-Fi? Yep. No password required.
Noise: I thought I heard someone cough once, but it might have been an echo from the far side of my room.
Room service: The 10.30am-10.30pm menu includes escargot pillows with lobster mousse, herbs and truffle pesto. I love a hotel with a pillow menu.
The bottom line: W is for When can I come back?
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