W Brisbane, Australia
Features Editor Sophie Harper takes a look at W’s decidedly cheeky Aussie point of view in its latest hotel offering in Brisbane.
Among one of the fastest growing cities on Queensland’s sparkling coastline is Brisbane, famed for its incredible climate and for being a beacon to the thousands of tourists who flock to the sunshine state each year. Which makes it the perfect location for Marriott International to reintroduce its renowned W brand as the city’s first five-star hotel in 20 years.
W Brisbane comfortably sets the tone in its new surroundings, officially as of the beginning of June 2018, by embracing its locality and taking hold of Australia’s playful side. Led by Nic Graham and Associates, the interior design is bold and dynamic, with a laidback appeal certain to win the affections of its guests, and is paving the way for further developments in the future, with a W Sydney and W Melbourne scheduled to open in 2020.
As part of the Shayer’s group $1 billion mixed-use precinct Brisbane Quarter, the 312-room luxury hotel was set to open in March 2018, but was eventually pushed back to June, allowing more time for the final touches to be made – a choice worth making if its incredible interiors are anything to go by.
The moment you set foot in W Brisbane, there’s simply no mistaking where you are. Mirrored surfaces mixed with earthy tones and natural fibres meet guests following a short climb up the main staircase, which is made of timber river reeds, naturally. Take a look around the immediate vicinity and you’ll notice, beyond the small cluster of welcome desks, the higgledy-piggledy mix of sleek coffee tables, comfortable chairs, and bright and sassy splashes of colour from intricately designed rugs and plump, well-placed cushions that make up the hotel’s Living Room – a cool and immersive space for guests to chill out in and soak up the natural elements that scream Australian outback: a solid theme throughout the building’s interior. Different areas link together seamlessly with a mix of curvilinear shapes and colours that echo the locale’s sub-tropical environment, but the point here isn’t to mimic nature; instead, each space feels experiential – open to the interpretation of its audience.
Further inspection shines light on the incredible artwork from celebrated Australian artists including the likes of John Nicholson, Lucas Grogan, and Reko Rennie, before leading the way to the indoor-outdoor WET Deck – a poolside retreat with a slightly outlandish but rather fitting black and white, almost tribal, paint job. For guests looking for typical Aussie hospitality with a selection of smoothies and barbecued food on tap, this is the place to come.
DRINKING AND DINING
Of course, any new building designed to make an impact on its surrounding landscape should expect to draw interest from more than just its hotel guests, and the W Brisbane has made a fantastic culinary collaboration to ensure visitors are suitably wooed. Three Blue Ducks – the dynamic team from Byron Bay who are thought of as food-crafting royalty in Australia – run the hotel’s signature restaurant, which comes with its own culture of laidback charm and wholesome ethos.
The restaurant, by design, is an open and welcoming area, with views across the river and surrounding cityscape. The furniture is a simple mix of natural woods in light and dark shades with clean lines, which fits comfortably into the wide space as well as the cosier nooks dotted around the curvature of the minimal wall space. The whole area is accented with natural fibres and textures, from woven light shades and terracotta plant pots and the two main bar areas – one very much focussed on the food and the other on drinks – are separated by light and airy tiles and country-kitchen style on one side, and dark teal-coloured wood panelling on the other. Together with polished surfaces, golden highlights, and different shades of natural wood, the clash of different elements complement each other perfectly.
Set over 34 storeys, including two bars, the signature restaurant, pool deck, gym, and day spa, the W Brisbane offers up 312 stylish guest rooms with 29 suites including two ‘Wow Suites’ and even an ‘Extreme Wow Suite’ (W’s take on a presidential suite), which all boast stunning views of Brisbane River.
The rooms prominently feature a white wall inspired by VJ wall panels found on traditional ‘Queenslander’ homes, a cheeky nod to Australiana throughout, thumbprint-striped carpets, contemporary light fittings, and wild pops of colour – from metallic printed cushions set atop crisp white linen to fuchsia pineapple-shaped wine coolers drawing attention to each room’s cocktail bar.
It’s hard to ignore the tech amid the custom-designed furnishings. All rooms feature a 55-inch LED TV and state of the art Bowers & Wilkins Bluetooth speakers, as well as an incredible ensuite, complete with a 10-gallon drum bath for the ultimate ‘outback bathing experience’.
Signature comforts come in the form of the plush W bathrobe, Bliss amenities and the famed W bed, with the penultimate ‘Extreme Wow Suite’ on level 33 showcasing a spectacular panoramic vista from the river to the mountains and beyond.
A perk for hotel guests, other than the fabulous river location and luxury interior spaces, is the W’s AWAY Spa – a prime spot for detoxing, de-stressing and rejuvenation. An escape from the outside world, the spa offers vitality pools, relaxation pods, his and hers salt inhalation chambers and aromatherapy steam rooms and sits comfortably next to the Edwards And Co. hair salon. Those wanting to work up a sweat can do so at the hotel’s gym, complete with Technogym equipment and resident personal trainers.
Another string to W Brisbane’s bow is its 1,100 square-metres of event space, which capitalises on the rest of the building’s eclectic mix of contemporary design and high-end tech. The 595-square-metre Great Room is made to captivate its audience and mimics the serpentine shape of the river with ripple effects throughout the design. The ceiling sparkles with 260 twinkling lights reminiscent of a clear Queensland outback starry night, and cutting-edge statement lighting and four-metre LED wall panels are intended to help shed light on presentations and displays with world-class audio-visual facilities thrown in for good measure. Additional meeting rooms include the versatile Studios and Strategy Room that showcase fab river views and glorious Queensland sunshine with floor to ceiling windows and private balconies.
The new hotel taps into Brisbane’s vibrant culture and rich nightlife with its fast-paced urban style and modern design, all showcasing a decidedly cheeky Aussie point of view.