Guests at Next Hotel can awake from a power nap in an Energy Pod to find themselves on the doorstep of the main shopping strip, writes Simon Holt.
Brisbane's Queens Street Mall is buzzing. Buskers compete for attention, shops are full of bargain hunters, and cafes seem to have a new lease of life amid the warmer spring weather. Locals will tell you there's nothing new about it. They'll tell you Brisbane has always had an air of excitement - since Expo 88, and when the city's council decided to allow widespread al fresco dining in the 1990s. Now of course, it's a new breed of city-goers, mostly dwellers; a younger crowd of people making the city their home. For visitors to Next Hotel, it means a guaranteed atmosphere.
Next Hotel opened in October and is still warming up as a city hot spot. On weekends, the pool area is open to the public, but nobody seems to have quite realised just how brilliant that could be. Expect that to change quickly as word spreads. The lounge overlooks the pool area and is reserved for hotel guests. It includes coffee, an honour system for snacks and drinks, a couple of large-screen Apple Mac computers and a library. Hiding behind curtains is more gadgetry: a bunch of Energy Pods. Lie back for a 20-minute pre-programmed power nap; gentle music starts the exercise, and a gentle vibration in the chair signals it's time to face the rest of the day.
Turn on the lights. Trigger the television. Adjust the airconditioning. Never mind, there's an app for that. And it's on the room telephone, a mobile Samsung Galaxy which you can take walkabout if you wish. It'll even open the door when you return. This used to be the Lennons Hotel, but it's remarkable what a $100 million refit can do. Rooms are well thought out. The cupboard acts as a walk-in robe attached to the bathroom, separating the bath from the bedroom with a sliding door. A comfortable bed, big-screen television, a selection of free movies, and shopping at the front door - it's a five-star ride at a four-star price.
One of the only things people will recognise from the old Lennons Hotel is the name, branded on the front of the restaurant, and also in the pool area. High ceilings and chic decor turn everyone's attention to the bright open kitchen run by experienced chef Todd Adams, who is clearly in control of his menu, and the way it is served. The kitchen has experimented with sassy flavours which fit the futuristic theme of the hotel. Quinoa salad with pomegranate is a lively side-dish must, and quail or scallop entrees are a treat. Expect first-class service indicative of an enthusiastic young team keen to make their mark on the city's dining landscape. Down the elevator, the mall awaits night-goers, as does the casino within 100 metres of the front door. A buffet or a la carte breakfast is also at Lennons.
You'd expect the guy making the cocktails to be singing out "go-go gadget arms". Everything is high-tech here, from a do-it-yourself check-in and check-out kiosk, to the phone which operates the lights, television and airconditioning. The concierge encourages guests to take the mobile phone out and about. Local calls are free. This is a fun hotel, with some of the most modern gadgets on the market. Well-priced and in prime location, Next Hotel is the next big thing.
HOW TO GET THERE
This is the tricky bit. Next Hotel fronts on to the mall, and no cars are allowed there. The car park is the final tick in the construction box, and is on Burnett Lane. If you're travelling west towards Fortitude Valley, there's no right turn. But if you're coming east towards Brisbane River, the left turn is possible. And remember, Burnett Lane is one way. Future signage should help with access, and help you avoid dragging your bags through the mall.
Next Hotel Brisbane, 72 Queen St, Brisbane City. Given the location, room rates are very good in the opening phase, at about $179 per night. All rooms are studio. Phone 07 3222 3222, see silverneedlehotels.com/next/brisbane.
The writer was a guest of Next Hotel Brisbane.