Once regarded as a big country town, Brisbane is having a moment in the sun.
The Queensland capital is undergoing an exciting transformation with new precincts, design hotels, restaurants, bars and boutique markets popping up in every pocket of the city, and $10 billion worth of infrastructure projects scheduled for completion by 2022.
The high-end hotel landscape, in particular, is burgeoning with FV by Peppers, Ovolo Inchcolm, W-Hotel and The Westin all opening their doors in the river city.
However, to be honest, what really lured me to this revitalised Brisbane for the weekend was the luxurious newcomer, The Calile Hotel.
Designed by Brisbane architects Richards and Spence with other tropical cities like South Beach, Miami, and Palm Springs in mind, this $100 million, seven-storey property is heralded as Australia’s first urban resort offering a unique, tropical-style escape in the heart of the James Street precinct in the hip Fortitude Valley.
With its white brick and layered concrete façade, the striking Calile certainly makes a good first impression. We park - $25 per night for hotel guests - and head straight into the street-level lobby where we are checked into our Poolside King Room.
Heading to the fifth floor, it is refreshing to see the plethora of open-air spaces and breezeways, the designers and owners, the Malouf family, clearly embracing Queensland’s enviable sub-tropical climate.
The antithesis of a traditional ‘inner-city hotel’ our pink, light-filled room is insanely stylish yet warm, boasting rose-tinged marble surfaces, custom crafted oak furniture and brass accents. The light, custom linen bathrobes and Grown Alchemist amenities are a nice touch.
Like most of the hotel’s 175 rooms – there are also nine suites - our curved balcony looks out over the 30-metre-pool, which is lined with towering palms and some seriously chic cabanas.
It’s clear the pool terrace – home to Hellenika, the sister restaurant of the hatted Gold Coast Greek institution of the same name – is the heart of the hotel. We want in on the action so we quickly change and head down for a swim.
The restaurant spills out onto the pool deck, where a host of beautiful people are swimming, lounging and dining on Hellenika’s modern Greek fare in the poolside cabanas.
We spy Australian singer Delta Goodrem and boyfriend Matthew Copley lunching with a bunch of pals as we take up a spot poolside and people-watch while sipping on margaritas.
The Calile may be one of the most aesthetically pleasing hotels I have stayed at in some time but it also has a fresh, unique charm and sense of fun that sets it apart from other luxury properties.
After a fun few hours poolside, we head down to Hellenika for dinner. It’s a balmy evening and we're lucky enough to snare a table outside overlooking the pool. I'd recommend making a booking as the restaurant is reportedly booked out most Friday and Saturday evenings.
We enjoy a Greek salad and a host of mezedes including saganaki, their famous zucchini chips, grilled South Australia calamari and octopus while we soak up the lively atmosphere.
The following morning, after a sleep in and breakfast in the contemporary Lobby Bar, we browse a slick edit of premium fashion boutiques on the ground level - think Bec and Bridge, Bassike and Camilla and Marc - before, very reluctantly, checking out of this luxurious oasis and heading back out into the city.