There has been a significant passage of time between visits to Hobart.
I really can’t say why I hadn’t returned to the capital of the apple isle since my 1982 Year 12 school excursion around Tasmania. And what about that picture taken on top of kunanyi / Mt Wellington?! What were we crazy high school girls trying to do to our poor old bus driver, Jim? Can you imagine what he said when he farewelled our motley crew?!
Anyways, to my returning to Hobart. The month was April, the year 2021. Only 39 years since the high school excursion around Tasmania. There’s wasn’t much I remember about being in Australia’s second oldest city from that first visit. Apart from the round up in my annual school magazine!
On this visit I was determined to give Hobart a good once over.
And I have to say I was impressed.
Having postponed the trip twice thanks to sudden COVID lockdowns, I was not only excited about being on a plane I was also feeling those holiday butterflies as the wheels touched down at Hobart airport. Passengers shuffled slowly to the front of line before checking in via the Tassie App at the counter just inside the airport. I was in Tasmania!
I located the bright red Skybus outside the airport. About 20 minutes later I alighted at Bus stop 4 on Elizabeth Street. I realised this other woman from the bus seemed to be walking in a similar direction as me. Turns out we were both heading to the same hotel: one of Hobart’s most popular The Vibe Hotel Hobart.
Stay in a central location in the Hobart CBD
On the eastern side of the CBD it was an easy walk up Elizabeth Street, then right into Macquarie Street and left into Argyle Street. We locate the building with the coloured ‘fins’: 36 Argyle Street. Upon entering the Vibe Hotel you pass The Belvedere – the hotel’s all day dining restaurant. Striking golden curved chandeliers (the modern-day versions) cast warm lighting over the large open plan room. I’m momentarily swooning at the swanky interior and the hints of Art deco: brass and marble.
The lobby desk is at the rear, partially hidden by a glittery gold chain curtain – measuring 7.5 metres x 3 metres – printed with an original photograph of fancily dressed ballroom guests. An acknowledgement to the site’s previous life as the Belvedere Ballroom. The dance hall was where Hobart’s ‘glamorous’ set gathered in the 1930’s right through to the 1970s, dancing to golden tunes from the ’40s and ’50s. The shimmering Kriskadecor panel (the unique Spanish designed chain curtains) adds dazzle to this inviting lobby.
Below a canopy of green foliage, I spot the smiling faces of check in staff. To the right of reception is a faux fireplace with a couple of grey wing back chairs, a large butterscotch sofa and scattered ottomans nearby – an inviting looking casual lounge area.
At reception I meet the General Manager and ask for recommendations on places to see. He gives me the lowdown on a couple of places he recommends I consider later for a cocktail, then dinner. I’m writing these down – I have two nights before I head off for my Freycinet guided walk. I can go out wherever I please. Hey, my days as a 17 year old High School student are long gone!
My Vibe room
In the 15 storey 4.5 star hotel there are 142 guest rooms with views to the Harbour, city or kunanyi. There are two-bedroom rooms and some with interconnecting doors (must be requested in advance.) I have a Harbour View Room on the seventh floor. At the time of visiting the Hotel had only been opened five months – the rooms still felt new and fresh.
The late afternoon sun was shining on the water and buildings below – a captivating view. I liked the conveniently located lounge by the window. It looked like the perfect possie for lounging and staring out at the view (or around the corner watching the clouds settle over kunyani). Or maybe for reclining with a book, glass of wine in hand. (A nice bottle of red was left for that very thing – thank you Jodi Clark.)
The spacious bathroom had a generous walk-in shower space, with rain shower / handheld shower options. At the time of my stay, the Hotel’s amenity range were by Enriched – infused with Moroccan Argan Oil. But a new partnership late last year with O&M means this Australian made range is now found in all Vibe Hotels. They are free from harsh chemicals and formulated with Australian grown botanical extracts. But the best part is Vibe Hotels have gone from single use plastic (the Enchanted range) to wall-mounted and refillable bottles. Go Vibe Hotels!
I felt calmed by the room’s neutral tones. Some of the hotel’s furnishings are made from Tasmanian Oak. The plush carpet underfoot was tempting me to kick off my shoes and crack open the bottle of red.
But there was a ‘new’ city waiting to be explored. The R & R would have to wait.
Wander down to the waterfront along Argyle Street about one block to Pigeon Whole Bakers where you can pick up a croissant or donut that will have you going back the next day for another round! Take the box of bakery goodies down to the waterfront where you can walk around and look at the old buildings and sculptures.
Stop in for a cocktail at Macq 01, or stroll over to the sandstone buildings of Salamanca Place and cut though the laneway where the sign says ‘Kelly’s Steps’. These stone steps brings you up to Battery Point. Walk 100 metres or so to Hampden Road where you will find a Battery Point favourite Jackman & McRoss bakery.
And if you want to see some of the most stunning opal jewellery, wander across the road and down 20 metres to a cottage with the sign EarthFire Opals In the shop window you’ll see the amazing creations by the very talented Luke.
At night time
Following recommendations, the first night I walked up Elizabeth Street to the intimate wine bar Sonny Hobart The second night (a Friday night) I went to Pablos Cocktails and Dreams live music bar to hear Billy Whitton play some of the best blues music I have heard in a while.
Vibe Hobart Amenities
When I saw the online pictures of the Vibe Hobart’s indoor swimming pool – I knew I had to pack my bathers (togs for Queenslanders like me.) That pool looked so Zen. I enjoy swimming a few laps at the end of a long day – after tramping the pavements and seeing the sights.
Apparently the pool’s green water and charcoal wall tiles were inspired by Hobart’s kunanyi’s unique geology: the dolerite columns, also called the “Organ Pipes”. I discovered much about the dolerite and many other kunanyi facts on this walk with Andy Crawford who operates walk on kunanyi (Andy collected me from the Vibe Hobart for my half day tour.)
On level five next to the heated pool there is a fitness centre – but I spent what little spare time I had swimming laps. And one morning, dodging two kiddies who felt the pool was ideal for bomb dives (yes they were supervised by their father.)
During my coming and goings over the next two days, I chatted to the GM on a couple of occasions. He told me a little of the hotel’s history. It was built on the site of a former colonial house. For generations who can still recall the popular Belvedere dance hall – fond memories abound. The stunning lights I admired every time I walked through the lobby are a nod to the Art Deco décor that was a feature of the dance hall – apparently the place to be seen in the bygone 1930’s decade. Make sure to look for the Kriskadecor panel (the chain art feature.)
The Belvedere opens from breakfast – all day dining through to lunch and then dinner (see below.)
The menu is a selection of the best of Tasmania’s fresh produce – priding themselves on paddock-to-plate – including Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon will share centre stage with Cape Grim Beef, local cheeses, and artisan products.
Belvedere Opening Hours:
Breakfast: 6.30am – 10.30am (Weekdays)
7.00am – 10.30am (Weekend & Public Holiday)
Lunch: 11.30am – 2.30pm (Monday – Saturday)
Closed on Sunday & Public Holiday
Dinner: 5.30pm – 9.00pm (Daily)
Hotel car parking
I didn’t have a car, but car parking is available near (ish) for AUD $20 / day (I believe it’s the car park for the Woolworths around the corner should you need anything from the well-stocked CBD supermarket.)
The verdict on the Vibe Hobart
I couldn’t wait to return to my room each afternoon after various excursions. One evening I was tempted to stay in and watch the landscape change from day to night from my comfy sofa. But no, I had a list of places to go.
Sadly, I ran out of time to try the Belvedere – so I can’t provide a review on the food. That will have to be another visit!
But I did find time to enjoy a glass of wine in front of the faux fireplace. I met up with my new friend and her husband (we’d met on the Airport bus that first afternoon) who came to Pablos with me on Friday night, where we all enjoyed a memorable night of cocktails and fine blues.
Relaxing Tasmania – it brings out the best in everyone.
Friendly staff, a beautifully clean and quiet room with comfortable Dreamcatcher beds and blackout curtains, fabulous pool, central location on the eastern side of the CBD, the Vibe Hobart as TFE Hotels’ first Vibe lifestyle property in Tasmania, is an affordable 4.5-star hotel.
I just wish I had more time to sit and contemplate why it’s taken me this long to re-discover Hobart.
Full disclosure: I paid a media rate for my two night stay. All comments expressed are my own and are in no way influenced by receiving some support.