W is for …


The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - Life | Travel -

It’s barely knock-off time on a Fri­day af­ter­noon and the level-four Wet Deck is bur­bling with life. The af­ter-work crowd jos­tles for pole po­si­tion on the ter­race lounges with their river views, the set­ting sun trans­form­ing glasses of rose-scented cock­tails into neon-pink lanterns. Cool sounds se­lected by an in-house Mu­sic Cu­ra­tor rise above the splash­ing from the pool, with its wow-fac­tor Op Art ceil­ing. There’s a pal­pa­ble sense of ex­cite­ment: who would have thought this busi­nesslike cor­ner of Bris­bane could be so glam­orous?

W is an über-cool ho­tel brand that doesn’t do de­sign by halves, but even by the stan­dards set by its prop­er­ties around the world, W Bris­bane is ex­tra­or­di­nary. The 312-room ho­tel, which opened last month on a once un­friendly thor­ough­fare near the old river­side casino, is the first five-star ar­rival in the CBD in more than 20 years, and it has its eye firmly on the fu­ture. That fu­ture is owned by Mil­len­ni­als: no won­der there’s a feast for the In­sta-savvy eye at ev­ery turn.

En­ter at street level, past the big W logo by the drive­way (click!) and you’re in the concierge space they call Wheels. Up a curved flight of stairs is the spa­cious Wel­come level, where a dia­mante-en­crusted sculp­ture pays trib­ute to Queens­land in the form of a gi­ant flip-flop, ba­nana and pineap­ple. Wrapped around the cen­tral lift-well are three gleam­ing check-in desks, a Becker Minty gift shop col­lab, and the stun­ning Liv­ing Room with its long mar­ble bar, dra­mat­i­cally lit glass cab­i­nets and nests of lounges, small tables, ot­tomans, lamps, bright ac­cent cush­ions and wall in­stal­la­tions (click, click, click!). It’s a riot of shape, colour and tex­ture… and then you step into a pur­ple neon light­box fea­tur­ing a gi­ant bee­tle mo­tif, which hap­pens to be the lift.

Many so-called “de­sign ho­tels” leave much of the de­sign at the guest-room door, di­alling it down into bed­room ac­cents via wall art, maybe a funky tex­tile and some knick-knacks. Here, the “River Dream­ing” con­cept by Syd­ney­based de­sign­ers Nic Gra­ham & As­so­ci­ates flows right into the suites, where there’s a play of eddy-like pat­terns in the car­pet and on the

walls, a wa­tery translu­cence in the curved bath­room wall and sug­ges­tions of reeds in the wardrobe’s tim­ber doors. All this, thank­fully, is in neu­tral tones, be­cause there’s a busy top-dress­ing of jewel-coloured cush­ions, a blue bar cab­i­net topped with a pink pineap­ple ice bucket and neon pink cock­tail tray, a bird­cage-like lamp­shade and nu­mer­ous other troppo touches.

Per­haps it’s the kind of de­sign con­cept you have to sleep on. In the morn­ing, af­ter a river-deep slum­ber on a cloud of a bed, I press the but­ton that opens the fab au­to­mated dou­ble cur­tains … and in streams that Bris­bane River light to some­how make sense of it all.

Our party meets over break­fast in the in-house res­tau­rant Three Blue Ducks, a brand that has mi­grated north from out­fits in Sydney and By­ron Bay and is all about lo­cally sourced, some­times sur­pris­ing, cos­mopoli­tan Aus­tralian fare. We sam­ple mango bircher bowls and clever juices, hot-smoked salmon and made-to-or­der eggs (a small sam­ple of a stun­ning spread) be­fore haul­ing our­selves into the sun­shine. Three hours later we’re back, show­ing the ho­tel off to friends with a splen­did lunch of More­ton Bay bugs, spiced lamb with egg­plant puree, woodroasted haloumi and a sea salt meringue with lemon and macadamia.

W is a feast for the senses, even if your taste in lux­ury ho­tel dé­cor tends to­wards beige. Un­der­pin­ning it all are five-star ser­vice and fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing a con­fer­ence cen­tre, gym and large spa with Ed­wards & Co hair sa­lon. The guest rooms and suites, rang­ing from Won­der­ful (40sqm, par­tial river views) to the soon-to-open Ex­treme Wow (200sqm, panoramic views, sep­a­rate bed­room) fea­ture bath­rooms with Bliss prod­ucts, deep tubs and rain-show­ers, along with 55-inch TVs and Blue­tooth speak­ers… and, note to Mil­len­ni­als, USB ports for charg­ing those In­sta-weary smart­phones.

◖ Per­fect for: Hol­i­day­mak­ers, suits (there are ex­ten­sive con­fer­ence and meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing a ball­room) and cul­tural tourists.

◖ Must do: Hit the Wet Deck for a drink and nib­bles as the sun goes down; af­ter din­ner, join the cool crowd in the Liv­ing Room – check the web­site for live mu­sic dates. Hop across the foot­bridge to the cul­tural cen­tre; the stun­ning Pa­tri­cia Pic­cinini ret­ro­spec­tive is at GOMA un­til Aug 5.

◖ Din­ing: Three Blue Ducks does room ser­vice but do visit the res­tau­rant, not least for break­fast. The buf­fet might be the best ho­tel spread we’ve seen, with fare in­clud­ing brekkie bowls of Congee with Se­same; Broc­coli & Cau­li­flower Rice with Miso Egg­plant & Kim­chi; or Mixed Grain Spiced Kedgeree.

◖ Get­ting there: The ho­tel is at 81 North Quay, a few min­utes’ walk from Cen­tral sta­tion.

◖ Bot­tom line: Won­der­ful Room from $339 per night; Fan­tas­tic Suite from $579; Ex­treme Wow (pres­i­den­tial) suite to open later this month.

◖ wbris­bane.com ◗

Go with the flow: river views; Three Blue Ducks; Liv­ing Room

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