Last updated 19 October 2021
I’ve driven across it many times. I’ve climbed up and along its steely curved span, now I’m lying on my bed looking out towards the grand bridge’s large supporting pillars and underbelly. What a fascinating angle of Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge I’m enjoying from my corner room at the Crystalbrook Vincent
Many a walk from New Farm across the floating walkway into the city has taken me past the multi-faceted gold and bronze glass exterior of this six-story hotel. I’ve always been curious, wanting to peer inside and check out the artwork by Vincent Fantauzzo, whose incredible talent is replicated throughout the hotel. A staycation satisfied my curiosity.
For this Brisbane-born and currently local gal, a staycation was indeed a treat and not something I’d given a lot of thought to before Covid made staying in your home city a ‘thing.’ (Of course staycations have been around for a while, I just never thought to ‘do’ one!)
I pause for a moment waiting for the large glass door to slide back allowing me to step into the hotel’s lobby. I look right. My eye is drawn towards the wall where a number of the regular Archibald Prize finalist’s works are on permanent display. Each of the Crytsalbrook Vincent’s six floors’ hallways and individual rooms are adorned with 180 different artworks and 500 Fantauzzo prints (a mix of originals and reproductions).
Leaving the lift to your room is akin to moving through an art gallery, not a hotel. On one level, I found a series of portraits of one of my favourite Aussie actors, Heath Ledger (sadly no longer with us.) His chocolate brown eyes disconcertingly follow me as I wander down the hallway. And the larger-than-life-sized portraits don’t stop there. Inside your room are many more artworks by this very talented Melbourne-based artist.
Rooms are either cliff or river-facing. I’m staying on the fourth level in an open-plan River King Room – one of the hotel’s spacious 166 rooms. Being a corner room, from one set of windows I have views over the Howard Smith Wharves precinct and the walkway towards the popular suburb of New Farm. The large windows facing the city as mentioned, take in a close view of the Story Bridge underbelly, the background, a cluster of towering CBD buildings.
It’s easy to lose all sense of time taking in the glorious views of Brisbane’s River through the floor-to-ceiling windows and the incumbent activity moving up and down its rust-coloured surface. (I prefer to use the word rust over the non-descript ‘brown’ when it comes to describing our magnificent river and the lifeblood of Brisbane.) Despite its murky hue – which actually is the result of rainfall carrying sediment off the land into creeks and waterways feeding into the river- I find my mood calms when looking out over the water.
Speaking of moods, colour always lifts my spirits. And I always felt ‘cheerful’ when walking into my room. From the bright pop of colour on the bed’s throw – cleverly repeating historical bridge images – to the deep shamrock green plush cushions scattered on my king bed and sofa. I like the proximity of power points and charging units on each side of the bed. Add in the interesting selection of books on the corner desk and I’m wishing I had more than one night’s stay!
I’m not a coffee drinker but for those who are, each room has a Nespresso machine (with recyclable pods.) And for anyone wondering where on earth the wine and drinking glasses etc are hiding (I was) – look to the cupboards above. Cleverly camouflaged, they open with a simple press of the door!
And it took me quite some time to figure out how to turn the lights off at bedtime. Almost had to call reception. Maybe figure this out before it’s time to go to sleep. (Or you may not be as inept as me and have no trouble at all!)
Nice touch – apart from the comfort of the luxurious bed, and the generously sized shower and optional rainwater showerhead, I do like the option for fresh air and my room had hopper windows that could be opened safely to allow outside air in.
What to do
There are many vantage points from the Crystralbrook Vincent to view the river. Personally, I like the panorama from the stunning rooftop pool. The double visual of water views from the infinity pool is both clever and captivating.
I could very easily settle in for a while with a cocktail (or refreshing spritzer) from the Fiume Rooftop Bar.
The restaurants, bars and eating establishments of Howard Smith Wharves Precinct are a quick stroll from Crystalbrook Vincent’s front entrance.
To work up an appetite try walking along the riverside walkway, or the floating walkway (or both!) If you prefer a faster pace, there are Lekker bicycles for hire.
If you’d prefer to expend your energy indoors at the hotel, you could work out in the fully-equipped 24-hour fitness centre.
You can choose to dine in house at their signature restaurant Polpetta Italian Kitchen (dinner Friday and Saturday nights) on the ground floor to the left of Reception, or at the rooftop pool and bar area, Fiume.
For a work function, a large table of travel writers, PR’s and a handful of Crystalbrook employees indulged in lunch at Fiume. A long table had been set up on the terrace overlooking the river. We were all excited, not only for the stunning location but the fact we were having lunch in real-time with real people. (Covid does this to you.)
Chef Steven Herold and his team treated us to several antipasto platters to knock our tastebuds out of the park. Carnivores and vegetarians are adequately catered for. There were so many dishes I could label as my favourite, but I will give a special nod to the:
- Grain and nut charred sourdough, lightly toasted on the grill with sautéed smoked butter served like a scoop of ice cream on the side. (The butter was so delicious my dining neighbour and I were discussing how we might take a scoop home ?)
- The braised beef and herb ragu with homemade pasta – that bowl was practically licked clean!
- Roasted cauliflower with Bee One Third honey, sunflower seeds and green leaves
Crystalbrook is to be commended for their paperless check-in and room keys made from recycled bamboo. Their cardboard water ‘cartons’, and their refillable large pump shower products* means they’re cutting back on single-use plastics. And on the food side, they’ve committed to lowering the food carbon footprint by pledging to source at least 80% of all produce used in the hotel, from within a three-hour radius.
*I adore their IMMERSION shower products – made from all-natural, indigenous Australian ingredients (rosella is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and is a native Queensland flower.) I’m replicating that Crystalbrook feeling at home, with a purchase of their Rosella body wash and hand & body lotion.
Taking time out to enjoy the luxe comfort of the Crystalbrook Vincent and the impressive vistas of the city I call home – was truly restorative! My suburban abode felt a world away.
Crystalbrook Vincent is vibrant, fun, quiet (I slept soundly in my room) and the staff are impeccably professional and polite. Visitors to Brisbane should consider this inner-city hotel and if you’re a Brissie local, stay for a night or two. But don’t wait for a pandemic to make that happen.
Rooms at Crystalbrook Vincent start from $245 AUD / night (mid-week) for a Nature Wall room (facing the rock wall) Price found directly on their website and as of October 2021.
Location: 5 Boundary Street, Brisbane City
Disclaimer: I stayed as a guest of Crystalbrook Vincent. All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced by my staying as a guest.