Mantra South Bank, Brisbane review: Weekend away

Read our writer's views on this property below


Brisbane's cultural scene is undergoing a revolution, of sorts. The Russian ballet, the American ballet, top-line Chinese art – the quality of shows has always been there. The modern difference is in the frequency. Rarely does a week go by when the cultural precinct is without world-class entertainment of some description.


On weekends in particular, the 25m heated lap pool and spa are surprisingly busy, and there is a gym in-house. It will, however, seem that the State Library, museum, modern art gallery, performing arts complex and convention centre are an extension of the lobby, all within a few-minute walk.


Mantra has ripped out the old carpet and laid a sleeker, more plush variety, replaced televisions and bedside lamps, and installed double glazing on all rooms facing the city. Rooms have also been brought into the current decade via new décor. It's been part of an overhaul of the building which extends to all rooms. Apartments are well spaced with a king-size bed, standard bathroom, and well-equipped kitchenette. One of the features of apartments, particularly those facing the city, is a balcony large enough to host a small party, although we all know that wouldn't be an overly wise idea.


While the lounge chair and cable television might excite male hormones, there's much more to the precinct. The most enticing aspect of a stay here is the proximity to South Bank, its restaurants, and its entertainment. Those not planning to join the nightlife in some form need only take a stroll onto the balcony to realise they're in the minority. Bring the dancing shoes, put your hair on and get among it.



Stone Restaurant and Bar has been part of the Mantra refurbishment, and fits in well with the many chic dining options around the South Bank precinct. Stone mixes it up with steaks and a choice of mains which includes a Thai-style red curry duck leg with meat that melts from the bone. There's also a list of generously-portioned tapas priced around the $10 mark. Peking duck salad and pork belly sang choi bau are a couple of Asian options which are slightly outside the tapas menu you might find elsewhere and are great options. Breakfast is also in Stone and has a fridge full of healthy goodies.


The obvious attraction to South Bank is to catch a show at QPAC, the Brisbane Convention and Entertainment Centre, or GoMA. But those who haven't been to South Bank for a while will get a pleasant surprise. All it'll take is a stroll. Walk around the markets of a weekend, soak up the gardens, stroll past the many choices of food, sip lattes in a coffee shop, catch a movie at the cinemas, or mosey past new shops which are popping up all the time. The city is just over the bridge, but you might not make it that far.


It would perhaps be fair to suggest that Mantra has in the past been considered the poor cousin to neighbouring Rydges. But a refurb and a slick Pat Rafter-led advertising campaign means the South Bank building is well and truly back in the game. With a 25-metre lap pool and quality restaurant, the Mantra group has been able to raise their entertainment precinct property up a definite grade in quality.


In the heart of South Bank on Grey St, it's a couple of blocks from the South Bank train station, and a similar distance from QPAC and GoMA.


Mantra South Bank, 161 Grey St, South Bank. Specials on a studio apartment start at around $170, while one-bedroom apartments can be found for around the $240 mark, but there might be a three-night minimum stay on these deals. Phone 07 3305 2500, see