The Emporium Hotel South Bank, Brisbane
The Emporium is dead, long live The Emporium. For many years, The Emporium in Fortitude Valley was the city's most loved boutique hotel. That Emporium is gone; it will soon be relaunched as Ovolo The Valley. Meanwhile, the original Emporium has been reborn in a new location in the South Bank precinct, part of a high-rise tower that also includes apartments.
The finishing touches are still being put on the interiors during my visit, but it is already clear that the hotel is working the BrisVegas vibe at its most glittering, with plenty of Instagram-friendly details. The reception desk sits beneath a living wall complete with orchids, while the elevators are set into the Shard Wall, made of 400 pieces of laser-cut glass that glow a striking shade of red. Marble surfaces and plenty of reflective glass add to the glitz, while the lifts will feature amazing video displays. (During our visit, only one has been installed.) All this dazzle means that some of the more subtle touches are easy to overlook; don't miss the 450-kilogram coffee table near the lifts made from one piece of petrified wood.
The good news is that this hotel offers guests plenty of room to spread out, with entry-level rooms sized at a generous 40 square metres. The neutral tones allow the signature furniture pieces to hold your attention: the bronze bar, the mirrored wall, the king-size bed with a bedhead that stretches all the way to the ceiling. That oversized mirror with its ornate gold frame also doubles as a TV screen, and easy-to-use touch pads control all the functions. The wardrobe is generously sized as is the bathroom which, in the river-facing suites, includes a spa tub. The river-facing suites also come equipped with a balcony. In addition to the standard mini-bar, there is a dedicated wine fridge featuring drops ranging from Leeuwin Estate's Art Series riesling to a chablis from Domaine William Fevre.
As yet, the hotel restaurant isn't open. Nor is the bar. Breakfast is served in The Terrace, an airy rooftop space that will doubtless be packed on summer evenings. The other venue that is already open is the Belle Epoque Patisserie, a concept carried over from the original Emporium. As well as a chic monochrome floor and palm-inspired chandeliers, the patisserie has a menu of French-inspired favourites from croque monsieurs to delicate macarons. Although the restaurant isn't open, we are treated to a catered dinner by the hotel's kitchen team, executive chef Chris Norman and pastry chef Alex Liddle. Local ingredients such as Eugowra quail, teamed with corn puree, chanterelle mushrooms and pancetta granola are top notch, while a dessert that combines eucalyptus and white chocolate with granny smith and avocado is simply extraordinary. The room service menu is also inventive, with white onion risotto, roasted carrot and chickpea salad and even poached salmon all listed alongside more predictable offerings.
If you have some downtime, head straight for the 23-metre heated rooftop pool overlooking the river. There are also three cabana suites that open onto the pool and have exclusive access to the pool at night; these will book out fast. If you don't feel like doing laps in the morning, a stroll or a jog through the nearby Botanical Gardens is a great way to start the day.
267 Grey St, South Brisbane. Rates start from $550 for a Vista room and $590 for a River City room. Ph 1800 346 835, emporiumhotels.com.au
HIGHLIGHT: The eye-catching details will delight design fans.
LOWLIGHT: The dining room won't open until early next year.
DISCLOSURE Ute Junker was a guest of The Emporium Hotel.