After a $6 million re-fit to the main building, Riverview is set to re-launch as a realistic player in Brisbane's hotel market. Around it, the Breakfast Creek Hotel has been constantly re-inventing itself, and less fortunate seems to be the continued demise of poor old Albion Park behind it.
Anybody entering the hotel grounds for the first time will be surprised that such a large resort-style pool sits behind the surrounding 2m fence. The barbecue area has been host to many parties over the 24 years of the hotel, dating back to when it was known as The Powerhouse before changing its name 12 years ago. This area will be the next to undergo renovations, and if they're as impressive as the makeover to the rest of the hotel, it'll be earning every one of its 5-star rating.
Deuce Design was the mastermind behind the makeover, but interior designer Wendy Lynch takes credit for the final touches. Bold wallpaper design is a feature of all rooms, which maintain some of their regal charm. There are 90 rooms, and each of them has its own individuality in design. During the Brisbane floods, those monitoring the damage were talking to hotel staff who had the best view in the city of debris floating down the river, and out to sea. While nobody wants to see that happen again, it's indicative of the sights from the riverview windows. The main suite has a dining table, spa bath looking out at the view, lounge area, king size bedroom and a couple of wardrobes.
The small Chester's bar area seats about 25, and it wouldn't surprise if a young Ted Danson started mixing cocktails behind the bar, 1970s Cheers style. In the show it would be pints, but the antique furniture here would be far too sophisticated for that - although there is a $4.50 happy hour on beer. Comfortable bar area aside, the real comfort is in the welcome. John at concierge has been doing his job for 21 years and takes great pride in perfection of his craft. "Number 34," he says, referring to the order in which he was employed. Site manager Margaret is "Number 3" and started work on the opening day of the hotel. She'd be Number 1 except a couple of others out-ranked her at the time. These people have created their own family off the back of a family-run business. And it illuminates in the service.
Normally, hotel breakfasts are a bit like hotel rooms – they all start to look the same after a while. But there's something about Plates restaurant which gives it an edge. It could be the vast selection of tropical fruits sourced from multiple suppliers (fresh pomegranate, fig, mango, starfruit and berries to name a few), or the pumpkin bread baked fresh on-site, or the chef's own chocolate truffles, muffins, cakes and macarons. Did someone say breakfast? You bet. Sous chef Jack has also created a modern evening menu which features Asian fusion. His wife's homestyle Thai spice sauce in the sautéed cabbage which accompanies the steak is superb, and presentation here is at a premium, highlighted by bright natural colours of the food, particularly in the Asian salads.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
Most people who stay at the hotel are business-folk. Some spend their time at the nearby pub, but the revamp has put great emphasis on providing guests with a quality in-house experience. Fortitude Valley is a 10-minute walk, as is Racecourse Rd the other direction. Both are hives of activity and good dining options, particularly on week-days. There are a couple of yachts anchored outside the front door on the river. Anybody got any rich friends?
The hotel was in need of some TLC, and got it from its new owner who seems to have a thing for hotels on the fringes of cities – others in the group are in St Kilda and North Sydney. Service certainly lives up to the 5-star rating, and the rooms have had a pleasant facelift. And don't underestimate the restaurant which by hotel standards carries an affordable price tag for its quality meals.
HOW TO GET THERE
When travelling from the city to the airport along Kingsford Smith Drive, the hotel is on your lefthand side, immediately after the Breakfast Creek Hotel.
Brisbane Riverview Hotel, Corner Breakfast Creek Rd and Hunt St, Hamilton. Like most hotels geared towards the business crowd, prices are generally lower on weekends. They kick off at around $219, and stretch above $300, depending on which night. Phone 07 3862 1800, see www.viewhotels.com.au.
The writer was a guest of Brisbane Riverview Hotel.