IHG Hotels & Resorts' newest independently branded property in the Vignette Collection made its Brisbane debut in February. Housed in a 12-storey tower with a striking white geometric facade, the 146-room Hotel X has an enticing rooftop pool, a well-equipped fitness centre and two destination restaurants.
Thanks to its position on the south-east fringe of Fortitude Valley, the hotel is a 10-minute stroll from Chinatown, James Street, Howard Smith Wharves and the boisterous nightlife in Brunswick Street Mall. It's a well-chosen locale – walking distance from all the main attractions but far enough away to escape the crowds and commotion.
The two-storey lobby looks like the showroom of a designer furniture store - all minimalist concrete columns, soaring mirrored panels and sleek contemporary seating that looks snazzy but isn't all that practical or comfortable. The edgy styling continues in the dimly-lit corridors with graffiti-style signage spray-painted onto exposed concrete walls. There's genuine wow-factor on the rooftop pool deck – the 15-metre pool is surrounded by stylish loungers and has impressive 270-degree views over the city. Thanks to a custom exterior lighting system, the hotel cuts a dashing multi-coloured profile at night.
There are equally beguiling vistas through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the rooms (particularly on the upper floors), which are revealed automatically upon entry by a theatrical "ta-dah"-style curtain opening. Softening the all-white colour scheme are playful photographs by local artist Justin Nicholas and occasional splashes of gold and purple detailing. The black-and-white tiled bathrooms have good-sized rain showers and exclusive Karl Lagerfeld toiletries (deluxe rooms also get GHD hair straighteners and suites have Dyson hairdryers). Lagerfeld fans will enjoy the witticism-filled The World According to Karl book on the bedside table and aspiring mixologists can whip up a negroni using the bespoke cocktail-making kit in the minibar. There's the usual in-room gadgetry (smart TV and Lavazza coffee machine) plus a refreshingly easy-to-use tablet for room service, pillow selection and PressReader access.
The property's ground-floor all-day dining destination is Bisou Bisou, an elegant French bistro-inspired eatery with olive-coloured banquettes and marble-topped tables. The menu contains all the classics (steak frites and escargots for example) plus rotisserie-cooked share plates of roast chicken and shorthorn rib eye. The venue that's garnering the most attention is Iris, a twinkling, wisteria-draped rooftop bar and restaurant with sweeping views of the Story Bridge. Start with a signature cocktail (I recommend the chilli and blackcurrant-infused Dark Desires) and some delicious tapas-style jamon and manchego croquettes. Then savour an upscale Mediterranean influenced menu that features king salmon crudo topped with shiraz gin caviar and lamb tartare flatbread with minted labneh. Book ahead on weekends when the venue transitions into a pumping nightspot for Brisbane's bold and beautiful.
Looking for high-end fashion and designer jewellery? Upmarket James Street is a 10-minute stroll away. Want a sunset cocktail with river views? Head straight to Mr Percival's in Howard Smith Wharves. Feeling cultural? The Judith Wright Arts Centre is just down the road. Even the CBD is a pleasant 25-minute amble along the Brisbane River. If you don't feel like walking, the hotel offers free transfers within a two-kilometre radius in its plush Mercedes courtesy car.
A notable addition to Brisbane's five-star hotel portfolio. Fun, funky and perfectly placed.
458 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld. Rooms from $240 a night. Phone: (07) 3519 1000. See
A sublime serving of spiced wagyu picanha with chimichurri sauce in Iris, the rooftop restaurant.
My embarrassing shriek after diving into the pool and discovering it's not heated.
Rob McFarland was a guest of Brisbane Economic Development Agency (visitbrisbane.com.au) and Hotel X.