This inner-city suburb is a crucible of all things cool: vibrant nightlife, vintage shops, splashy murals, hole-in-the-wall cafes, art galleries and theatres and that custodian of Perth's rich Asian heritage, Chinatown. Its proximity to the city notwithstanding – the CBD is a five-minute walk away – Northbridge feels suburban with its tree-shaded streets and predominantly low-rise buildings – some of them heritage-listed. But stroll through it and you'll find urban curiosities aplenty, along with busy construction sites signifying the precinct's burgeoning expansion.
This is the first purpose-built DoubleTree by Hilton in Australia, and I can sense the welcome before I've entered the hotel, for there's a seamless flow between the glass-doored lobby and the pavement where I'm dropped off. Inside the modern cubist structure is a reception area managed by sociable staff and filled with geometric artworks and furnishings. The centrepiece is a vertical louvre-style partition behind the main reception desk, popping in primary colours and setting a playful tone for the rest of the 206-room establishment. The outdoor pool floats three floors above Northbridge, offering swimmers a view of the CBD skyscrapers. It's also a pleasant spot in which to sit with a coffee or a cocktail. Gym goers get a view of both the pool and the skyline from the fitness centre set behind a wall of glass on the same level.
The splashes of colour in the lobby follow me upstairs to my "king panoramic" room, where a muted canvas of blond wood and taupe walls and furnishings is vivified with another kaleidoscopic artwork and a carpet spattered in a tessellating mosaic of pink, brown and blue. My room faces east, offering a view across Northbridge towards the Swan River and the Perth Hills rising gently in the distance (Hilton Honors guests can use their smartphone as a room key). The bathroom is sleek, with just a hint of geometrical colour, and is stocked with Crabtree and Evelyn products; the shower cubicle's glass wall ensures the view isn't obscured while I bathe (discreet guests can activate an inbuilt blind). I sleep undisturbed on the cloud-like "sleep experience" bed and, waking early next morning, watch the sunrise from the squishy comfort of my bed.
Tucked off the lobby is James St Bar + Kitchen, an urbane, open-kitchen concept that's a bistro and bar rolled into one. It's a pleasant space to hang out in with its brass counter lamps, mid-century-style furniture and tessellated tile floor, and I get the impression it's frequented by locals as much as guests. Chef Kevin Garcia's menu focuses on Western Australian produce and reflects the modern Australian palate; you'll find a chicken parmigiana here alongside lamb koftas, soy-brushed salmon with Asian slaw, kangaroo loin and tempting share plates and tapas. The drinks menu offers a comprehensive selection of beers, ciders, spirits, mocktails, cocktails and selected wines from WA along with bar snacks. Breakfast is the usual fare, served with a modern twist and health-conscious flair. A simplified version is served in the Executive Lounge, which is accessible to Hilton Honors members and guests staying in an executive room.
It's a pity I'm here for business not leisure, given DoubleTree by Hilton's handy location in the city's buzzing cultural heartland. The Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Perth Cultural Centre (its refurbished Western Australian Museum is due to reopen in 2020) are a five-minute walk away, the State Theatre Centre a mere two minutes. Strike out in any direction and you'll find a quirky eatery (try Old Shanghai, fitted with retro Chinese decor and serving Asian eats hawkers' centre-style; 123 James Street, Northbridge; 0405 363 518). Or head to Yagan Square, a new development at Horseshoe Bridge named for Perth's fabled Noongar warrior and composed as a vibrant gathering centre. Here you'll find native gardens, green spaces, eateries, markets and public art including a towering sculpture of Yagan himself. I'm headed to a conference at the Perth Convention Centre – beside the newly-developed Elizabeth Quay – and though taxis and public transport are plentiful, it's a pleasant 20-minute walk from here.
The hotel's jazzy personality and vibrant location make it the ideal bolthole for travellers who want to be close to the action and energised by their environment.
Fully flexible rates in a king guestroom start at $155 a night including breakfast. See perthnorthbridge.doubletreebyhilton.com
The signature warm choc-chip cookie served at a check-in.
Wi-Fi is complimentary only in the lobby, restaurant and public areas – unless you're a Hilton Honors member, in which case it's comprehensive.
Catherine Marshall was a guest of DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Northbridge and Tourism Western Australia