Located on the Brisbane River at North Quay, you're a five-minute walk from the heart of Brisbane's CBD at the Queen Street Mall. Or you can walk across a bridge to Brisbane's Cultural Precinct, home to the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Queensland Performance Arts Centre and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. South Bank is also just over the bridge.
We all knew W Hotels Worldwide would make a big splash when it first landed in Australia, right? And it does just that; designers Nic Graham and Associates have presented an urban style, but with what it calls "a cheeky Aussie point of view". It's all about earth tones and frayed edges – from the moment you check in, things are done differently (there's a welcome desk and living room, but no hotel lobby). There are artworks by famous Australian artists hanging on the walls, and an indigenous theme runs throughout, with a funky soundtrack playing.
At 40 square metres, even entry-level rooms are on the larger side of the norm. And space is well used, like a circular bamboo-style wardrobe that drops down from the roof. The design incorporates elements of Australiana – from a metallic, stand-alone bath-tub with a wooden back rest (a modern take on the 10-gallon drums used in the outback) to boomerang-shaped coffee tables and indigenous-inspired artwork. But conveniences like electric curtains make everything feel modern.
Fans of Byron Bay and Bronte's Three Blue Ducks know this is far from your ''normal'' kind of hotel restaurant. Renowned for their paddock-to-plate ethos, these Sydney mates have made their first foray into the hotel world. The space suits their laidback style – there's floor-to-ceiling windows looking across the river and a covered balcony offers year-round al fresco dining. Order dishes from its coal pit and grill or wood-fired oven. It's hard to go past the Moreton Bay bugs, charred cavolo nero and xo butter ($49), though there's also roast pumpkin pizza for a reasonable $25. Aussie barbecue dishes are also available at the Wet Deck.
While Brisbane's CBD is just outside, you may not want to leave the hotel. There's a resident DJ in-house who keeps the tunes flowing throughout – the volume's turned up in the evenings. The Wet Deck is the country's sexiest new hotel bar. It's an open-air huge rectangular affair built between a heated pool and a deck overlooking the river (check out the zebra pattern roof), and the mountains of Mt Coot-tha where the sun sets behind. Sundowners are mandatory, though DJs play well into the small hours. Cocktails also come thick and fast downstairs in the Living Room Bar. There's action aplenty at Brisbane's best restaurants and bars nearby in Fortitude Valley, New Farm and West End.
This is that hotel, the one you just don't want to leave. From the moment you set foot inside till you check out you feel ensconced in a warm, cosy style bubble where everyone seems to really like you, and nothing goes wrong.
Prices start from $350 for the Wonderful room, the hotel's lead-in category. The W Hotel, 81 North Quay Road, Brisbane, Queensland. Ph: 07 3556 8888. See wbrisbane.com
Even American hotel workers working for tips aren't this gracious and friendly. Every staff member seems to love a chat, though there's no forced smiles or awkward small talk. I challenge anyone to find more charismatic hotel staff in Australia.
Modernity is great and all, but should you stumble into your room at 2am trying not to wake your partner, don't you wish there were just light switches like the good ol' days. Can't I just put the lights on in one room at a time… please?
Craig Tansley was a guest of The W Hotel