NEXT Hotel, Brisbane review: Weekend away at Australia's most high-tech hotel

Our rating

4 out of 5

Christine Retschlag explores Brisbane’s latest inner-city establishment, which claims to be Australia’s most high-tech hotel.

THE LOCATION

For those seeking a CBD escape it doesn't get any better than this. Plonked at the top end of the Queen Street Mall, NEXT snatches pole position when it comes to retail, dining, bar and sightseeing therapy. An escalator from Level 2 deposits guests directly into the heart of all the action, including Australia's first Forever 21 store, which leases its retail space from the hotel. All the mainstream retailers are within spitting distance of the entrance and a short stroll down towards the bottom of the Mall takes guests to Queens Plaza and high-end retailers such as Tiffany & Co and Paspaley Pearls. In between, there's plenty of alfresco cafes in which to grab a cold beer and enjoy Brisbane's balmy weather. It's also only a few steps away from the Treasury Casino and a short stroll across Victoria Bridge to South Bank and the city's cultural precinct.

THE SPACE

While high-tech on one hand, this hotel is also infused with a long history. The former iconic Lennons Hotel, it was built in the 19th century by architect John Lennon, and once boasted a ladies' drawing room and just nine bathrooms for its 62 bedrooms. Almost every Brisbane resident has an association with Lennons, whether it was where they held their wedding reception or attended a school formal. The exterior of the hotel remains, but inside was completely gutted for its reincarnation as NEXT. If these walls could talk, they'd speak of famous guests such as former US President Lyndon Johnson, US General Douglas MacArthur, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and the Beatles. One wonders what they'd make of the sleek modern bathrooms which flow into generous-sized bedrooms.

THE KIT

The biggest selling point of this Grand Dame is her claim to being Australia's most high-tech hotel. Savvy guests can check in on their smartphones, simply by downloading a free App. Your personal device then becomes your mobile key which unlocks your room door, controls the temperature, lights and entertainment channel  - even if you're outside the room. Room service and a cheeky cocktail can even be ordered in this manner before you arrive. Another check-in/check-out alternative in the lobby are computers similar to those at the airport where you simply enter your details and, instead of a boarding pass, your room key is dispatched. For those who don't  own a smartphone, every room has a Samsung Galaxy S4  to use throughout your stay, offering everything from free Wi-Fi, free local calls and even calls patched through to your borrowed phone when you are outside of the hotel. 

STEPPING OUT

The high-tech theme continues through Level 4's Club Lounge InTransitZone where guests can crawl into a futuristic Sleep Pod and catch a nap before their next appointment. There are also daily snacks here, if your four daily, free, in-room mini-bar items are insufficient.  Level 4 is also home to a swanky pool bar and the lap pool itself steals a sunny position overlooking Queen Street Mall below. On Level 2, NEXT pays homage to its former life as Lennons and has retained the name in its Lennons Restaurant and Bar which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food here punches above its weight for a hotel restaurant and you could be forgiven for thinking you were at one of the city's fine dining eateries, from its perfectly cooked Wagu steaks to its classy cocktail list which features all of the classics as well as new and funky concoctions such as the strawberry and balsamic number. 

THE VERDICT

While some of the new technology wasn't functioning to perfection when it opened, once the teething problems are ironed out, this hotel will set the standard for others around Australia.  

HOW TO GET THERE

Guests arriving by cab can simply ask their driver to drop them at the top of the Queen Street Mall or "the old Lennons". For those driving, enter via Burnett Lane - Brisbane's oldest CBD laneway - and the concierge will park your car for you.

ESSENTIALS

Rates start from $190  a night for a standard room up to $270 for a deluxe king room. Subject to availability. Phone 07 3222 3222, silverneedlehotels.com/next/brisbane

The writer was a guest of NEXT Hotel Brisbane.