The Calile, Brisbane
The Calile (pronounced Kal-Isle) sits on the cusp of Brisbane's CBD, in Fortitude Valley, the city's former underbelly. Gentrification has seen the Valley's James Street precinct evolve into a fashionable enclave with bars, restaurants, high-end retail stores and new hotel openings. The Calile marks the most recent addition by renowned local architects Richards and Spence to the strip, a short distance from both the CBD and Brisbane Airport.
Touted as Australia's first urban resort, the Calile, managed by TFE Hotels, fully embraces the tropical vernacular of the Queensland capital. Its white brick and concrete facade lend it a Palm Springs-meets-Miami feel and captures the leafy aesthetic of James Street's urban streetscape. Described by the architects as "gentle brutalism", the Calile's 175-rooms (including 11 suites) surround a central elevated pool with alfresco dining, cabanas, sun loungers, hanging gardens and palm trees. Guest rooms are linked by open-air spaces and breezeways with ceiling fans and planters. Staff wear stylish Bassike-designed Italian cotton shirts and linen chinos.
There's also a smart Lobby Bar, gym, day spa, boutiques and library.
All pastel-hued rooms offer a balcony of some sort (entry rooms have a Juliet; my pool room has a large, round balcony with two chairs and table), and operable windows. Rooms feature marble bathrooms, custom linen robes, sisal matting, Grown Alchemist amenities, a locally sourced mini-bar, motorised blackout blinds and UHD TV with Chromecast and sound bar. It feels like staying in a retro hotel in Miami from the 1950s.
The award-winning and flagship Greek restaurant Hellenika by Simon Gloftis (sister restaurant to the eponymous Gold Coast venue of the same name) is a major drawcard for the Calile. The stylish space opens out to a leafy terrace with potted olive trees, outdoor dining and poolside cabanas popular with the beautiful crowd. Be sure and order the saganaki, veal dolmades and the Hellenika g&t with Tanqueray, fever tree tonic and rosemary. The ground floor Lobby Bar morphs from breakfast through to cocktails and everything in between, while a new dining precinct in Ada Lane will be unveiled in April.
The Calile offers more than 130 design shops, restaurants, bars, boutiques and galleries on its doorstep including Dion Lee, Bassike, Aesop and Pottery Barn, with Bellisimo Coffee just across the road. Take a stroll along poinciana-lined streets to the Brisbane River and book a table at E'cco Bistro, where chef Philip Johnson has returned for the restaurant's first birthday at its new Newstead site. Expect signature dishes like Johnson's Moreton Bay Bug risotto, and the hazelnut semifredo sandwich.
A toss-up between the fabulous pool and the modern Greek fare at Hellenika.
You need to make like a German tourist to secure a prized poolside cabana. The breakfast menu in the lobby bar is somewhat limited.
A Gold Coast couple decided, on a whim, to stay the night after lunching at Hellenika. General manager Jeremy Nordkamp not only found them a room (no easy ask on New Year's Eve) but loaned the male guest a pair of his own (brand new) swimming trunks. Which kind of sums up what to expect from the Calile – warm, professional service delivered in the surrounds of an urban, tropical oasis. I only wish the Calile was in my backyard.
From $259 a room per night including Wi-Fi. See thecalilehotel.com
Sheriden Rhodes was a guest of TFE Hotels.