Ah Brisbane, gateway to the great no-barriers coal reef, you're mine all Adani mine (or at least for this, a lightning one-night visit). My lodgings are not ones belonging to a bevy of bold new boutique-cum-design hotels that have opened their doors in the past year or so, but the more conservative, 21-year-old, 267-room Brisbane Marriott. This 28-storey fixture – straight across from the landmark steel cantilever Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point Cliffs, a popular recreation spot – has been reborn following a recent $20 million makeover with the hotel something of an illustration of how much and how little such a figure can achieve these days.
One of the first Queensland capital hotels to embrace the now integral Brisbane River that curls its ways through the city, the Brisbane Marriott is excellently located on Queen Street, right on the inner edge of Brisbane's high-rise city centre. The hotel's not only adjacent to the water and opposite the aforementioned bridge and chi-chi inner-city Kangaroo Point, but also close to nightlife in the form of more than a dozen upscale restaurants, bars and cafes at the riverside Eagle Street Pier (sadly, the Brisbane branch of Sydney chef Matt Moran's Aria at this precinct was shuttered recently after 10 years).
The hotel, a minor Brissy icon, is managed by Marriott and owned by wealthy Malaysian interests with the redesign undertaken by Duoz Design, a Malaysian-based firm that's strived in the facelift to reflect Brisbane's natural assets such as its parks and forest. For this reviewer's tastes there's a little too much marble, seemingly remaining from the hotel's previous incarnation, though one winning legacy of the Brisbane Marriott's past life is the semi-enclosed swimming pool, occupying a level of the tower, replete with sweeping Brisbane River panoramas.
My spacious and tastefully refurbished 33-square-metre Brisbane River and Story Bridge-view king bed guest room, is in a palette of earthy browns and neutral greys, reflected in an imposing bark-hued bed headboard. The room is comfortable yet unremarkable, lacking some of the typically standard five-star accoutrements such as – quelle horreur – a bathrobe, and the coffee-making facilities consist only of anachronistic instant coffee. Upgrade to an executive room should you seek more in the way of in-room luxuries.
Such a central location means you won't be bereft of external dining choices with Good Food Guide-hatted eateries such as Otto, Blackbird Bar and Grill, E'cco Bistro and Gerard's Bistro, a mere stroll or Uber away. Of course, there's always the option of Brisbane Marriott's newly snazzy signature restaurant, the ground-level Motion Dining – by the looks of it, the recipient of a large chunk of the big refurbishment bucks. Aside from traditional tables and chairs, some close to the action at the grill, there's also a pleasant high-table and stools section at the adjoining M Bar suitable for a casual bite, coffee or a business meeting and, of course, a drink or two. Elsewhere, there's al fresco dining at M Deck overlooking the river. Food-wise, expect the mandatory locally sourced ingredients, including Queensland's superior seafood staples.
Brisbane is right on your doorstep and, for that matter, your riverfront. One of the underrated pleasures of a visit to Brisbane is a ferry ride down the river to gain a better sense of the city's growth and growing sophistication, as well as to admire its architecturally lauded public wharves and extensive boardwalks. Just a five-minute walk away are the recently unveiled and newly fashionable Howard Smith Wharves, the city's latest dining district tucked under and on either side of the Story Bridge.
If you really want to put the "Vegas" into "Bris", choose one of the Queensland capital's fancier designer hotels. But if it's dependability in smartly refreshed surroundings amid a fine location you seek, please make your way to the Brisbane Marriott.
Doubles from $209. Brisbane Marriott Hotel, 515 Queen Street, Brisbane. Phone (07) 3303 8000. See marriott.com.au
It's no coathanger, but the more you look at it the more appealing the Story Bridge becomes, especially when spectacularly lit by night.
A bathrobe, my kingdom for a bathrobe (and something other than a kettle with which to make a proper in-room cuppa).
The writer stayed as a guest of Brisbane Marriott Hotel.