Emporium Hotel review, South Bank: The Brisbane hotel with an outstanding infinity pool

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE PLACE

The ceilings soar in the lobby, an area adorned with extravagant colours and design features that teeter on the edge of garish but don't quite fall into that abyss. The reception folks are friendly and accomplished, if slightly discomforted when they request the $100-per-night credit card hit to "cover any incidentals"; funds that for some reason take a week to make their way back to their owner.

THE LOCATION

There's a lot to like about Brisbane's South Bank - a leafy, semi-tropical strip of green that comes complete with a riverside beach and pools and flat paths for strolling or scootering along, as well as access to the free CityHopper ferry service to get you up or down river as you wish. Wander one street back from the river and there's the Emporium Hotel, soaring above the street.

THE SPACE

If that lumbering, snaking, appealing river gives Brisbane a big part of its beat, the Emporium is well in tune with it, not least up on the rooftop level, where the infinity pool frames the river way below. In the pool or lounging alongside it, you can watch the ferries and working boats motor along, the traffic snarl, the aircraft on their approach or the views stretching to the hills and beyond.

THE ROOM

There are some hotel rooms that are so hi-tech you need a teenager to run them; not so this one. Thanks to a simple display console it is easy to work the lights and the auto-curtains. But what about the TV? Where is it? I can see the remote, but where is the screen? Does it pop up out of the bench? Is it hiding behind the mirror? No, it is the mirror ... new one on me but the big screen works perfectly inside that gilded frame. Otherwise there is plenty of wardrobe space, generous views up-river and down and a vast, luxurious, bathroom complete with bath and walk-in shower.

THE FOOD

The hotel's fine-dining Signature restaurant is remarkable - an airy room with generously spaced tables and very comfortable chairs that nevertheless feels intimate. We try the five-course degustation with matching wine, all of it shines, but mid-way, the Abrolhos Island scallops matchedwith Barrowdale pork belly and a Louis Latour chardonnay are every guilty food and drink pleasure wrapped into one. The restaurant has The Library attached, a wine cellar with quite the range from Australia and around the world. The Terrace, upstairs by the pool, is the place for a delightful breakfast, but wear your sunglasses - Queensland's disregard for daylight saving and massive windows bump up the glare in the morning.

STEPPING OUT

Step out if you must, but drop by the Piano Bar downstairs on your way for an excellent drinks list in a lavishly-decorated room. The windows and mirrors are positioned just so that when you look at the people entering the lifts for the apartment building adjacent, they appear to walk through the glass. Nearby on South Bank are the Playhouse and Queensland Performing Arts Centre; stroll another 10-minutes and you're in Brisbane's CBD.

THE VERDICT

An excellent hotel that calls itself boutique, but is probably slightly ahead of that category. Well-located with accomplished staff and excellent food and beverage options.

ESSENTIALS

Rooms from $295 a night, see emporiumhotels.com.au

HIGHLIGHT

Has to be the pool - an infinity of the skyscraper variety with lux lounges and big river and city views.

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LOWLIGHT

There is more than one Emporium in Brisbane; make sure you ask your driver for the one on Grey Street.

Jim Darby was a guest of Emporium Hotel.