Simon Holt finds a relaxed part of Brisbane, far enough away from the crowds, yet close enough to the action.
This used to be the old end of town, but a couple of hotels in Astor Terrace have been given a facelift, including Punthill and Mantra Terrace Hotel – and they're consequently leading a revival. Don't expect crowds of people, but there'll be a nice gathering of relaxed folk milling around the area for breakfast or lunch. The city is within a 10-minute walk, Eagle Street Pier is only a few blocks away, and sporting stadiums are a short taxi ride. Due primarily due to its inner-city location, the hotel is geared towards business travellers, but it's worth thinking about for those wanting an inner-city escape.
Mantra Terrace is one gem in the Mantra stable which is punching well above its weight. It doesn't have a pool, but the small hotel makes up for it in a number of ways. Staff are super friendly. It is common for guests to be caught having a chat at the 24-hour reception desk. For those keen to keep up the training regime, they'll give out free Fitness First passes, there are plenty of magazines lying around, and reception has a selection of fresh fruit. There's generous wifi, room service from the quality O Bar and Restaurant downstairs, and cable television keeps the 38-inch TV in business.
It's always tough to find something which sets one hotel room apart from another. Cleanliness is usually key, and Mantra ticks all the boxes at its Spring Hill asset. Granted, rooms are a little smaller than the normal apartment-style Mantra complexes, but the studio suite has everything an apartment does except the door to the bedroom – a kitchenette, iPod dock, coffee-making facilities, sofa, comfortable bed with reading lights, and a large window to watch what's happening in the street below. The bathroom is another plus, with his and hers basins, and a separate bath and shower. The smaller hotel rooms have the added bonus of a small balcony. The only "oh no" moment occurs when trying to open the door to the cupboard – it won't quite go the full way before crashing into the bed.
Most people who stay in the city do so with a purpose, whether it be wedding, sporting event, shopping, hen's night, whatever. One advantage of Mantra Terrace is that O Bar and Restaurant is just downstairs. It is at its most lively after work, particularly late afternoons after the regular coffee shops have closed. Talk among the trendy crowd is that it's a nice place to hang out with its stone walls, chic décor and outdoor bar area. And $10 mango mojitos are a handy incentive. Meals are also of good quality. The chicken with crispy jamon is a treat, and there are some enticing desserts. Breakfast is a la carte. Eagle Street dining precinct is within a few blocks, if you really must.
Although the Mantra Group is spending plenty of money to lift its game, by virtue of simply being so big its properties shape up with mixed results. But this is a hidden gem. What it lacks in facilities of a larger hotel, it makes up for with hospitality, both in reception and the on-site restaurant. A makeover of rooms seems to have ensured everything is clean and modern. For the money, that alone makes it a great value proposition.
HOW TO GET THERE
Mantra Terrace is on Astor Terrace in Spring Hill, not far from the centre of the city. The easiest way to access the small lane is via Wharf St. One advantage of staying on weekends is that on-street parking is free after 12pm Saturday.
Mantra Terrace Hotel, 52 Astor Terrace, Brisbane. Rooms start from as low as $111 for a three-night stay on weekends, and stretch up to $245 for a one-night stay in a studio suite mid-week. Shop around. Phone 07 3009 3400, see mantra.com.au.
The writer was a guest of Mantra Terrace Hotel.