Weekend away: Gambaro Hotel, Brisbane

Brisbane's latest boutique hotel is quickly making an impression, set right in the heart of arguably the city's most vibrant entertainment precinct. Simon Holt finds out what all the fuss is about.


Brisbane has been crying out for more boutique accommodation, so when Gambaro Hotel opened to the public in May, news of the design and concept fell favourably on industry ears. For punters, it means five-star accommodation at four-star prices – or at least that’s the way it is right now – right in the heart of a burgeoning entertainment precinct.


Enter the spacious lobby and think about where they’ve put 66 rooms, seemingly tucked away in every nook and cranny of the refurbished building. Floors are seemingly quite personal, and surprisingly removed from the streetside party outside. Nightclubs, restaurants and bars abound within metres of the doorstep, and Suncorp Stadium is within sight of some rooms. Be sure to check out the atrium at night, a space in the middle of the hotel which elegantly lights up hanging fish – lots of hanging fish.  


Rooms vary, but it’s nice to have the choice whether to join the party downstairs, or to watch it from a distance on the balcony. If you feel your face is sinking into an endless pit of feathers, order something firmer from the pillow menu. Dark greys are a classy decor, and the sliding wooden slats which slide across the window separating the bath and bedroom are a nice touch. There are in-house movies, a well-stocked and reasonably-priced mini bar, and a comfortable lounge chair for one. Between the bed and sliding glass doors, there’s plenty of space to move around. And take some time to admire the carefully-chosen art – it gives the room a considerable lift.


Service is a key here. Staff wear uniforms which add a touch of class. Guests are acknowledged by name, and there is a real determination to ensure the hotel builds a high-end reputation. Rooms are remarkably spacious. There’s even room by the television to dance, if that’s the way you roll, although the bulk of the party is in the neighbouring bars and hotels. Designed by Hirsch Bedner, one of the must-see features is the terrace on the third floor, a relaxing lounge area overlooking Caxton St, and fast becoming a very popular spot on State of Origin night.  



While a 5-star hotel is a nice addition to the Gambaro business portfolio, their food is what their reputation was built on. Gambaro Seafood Restaurant is right next door, and the latest dining addition, Black Hide Steakhouse is immediately across the road. You know it’s a quality restaurant when the bar staff hold each and every wine glass to the light to ensure there’s not a mark in sight, let alone a trace of leftover lippie. Flame grilled steak is top shelf, with sauces and condiments setting a high bar, and served on dark plates for an added touch of elegance. Oysters are a traditional start, but there are a number of share options. In cool weather, be sure not to miss out on the quince and apple crumble – a real treat with vanilla bean icecream.  


Most people who visit Gambaro Hotel will be doing so for a reason – wedding, football game at Suncorp Stadium, or perhaps just a good night out. While it’s not the right place to be breathing fresh air in remote silence, it is the place for a few drinks with friends. The choice of bars and night venues is expanding and well worth a look. With no need for a taxi, nobody’s counting just how many you might have sampled.


The Gambaro family has targeted the boutique market, and they’ve succeeded. There aren’t many of them, but staff have been trained at top level – they know how to make guests feel immediately welcome, are there 24 hours, and are remarkably well-managed and knowledgeable about the area. Given it’s an entertainment precinct, things will remain noisy until the wee hours. But let’s face it, from the safety of a third or fourth-floor balcony, the drunks can be mildly amusing.  


The hotel is in the heart of the Caxton St entertainment precinct.  Enter from the Caxton St side of the hotel, and concierge will help with valet. Leave the keys until you’re ready to leave. 


Gambaro Hotel, 33 Caxton St Petrie Tce, Brisbane. Rooms start at around $199 mid-week and include a few perks such as parking, a movie, and the possibility of an upgrade. Prices rise to around $249 on weekends, when Caxton St is at its liveliest. Phone 07 3369 9500, see gambarohotel.com.au.