Weird and wonderful hotel stay by design

W Brisbane's Wonderful Room
Photo of Jenni Storey

'W' must surely stand for WOW at the W Brisbane with its offbeat styling.

There are moments during a stay at W Brisbane when you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered into an art gallery dedicated to Queensland funk and fauna.

It might be when you’re sinking into a cluster of bespoke silver-encrusted cockatoo cushions or when you’re marvelling at the chef’s farm-to-plate-to-compost-to- farm commitment to sustainability.

But more often than not, it’s when at every turn, every sideways glance and every raised eyebrow, you spy artwork. Really extraordinary artwork.

Design is one of the W’s four passion points. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Iconic Australiana, from the surreal to the serene, is everywhere. Cane toad wallpaper borders in the ground floor restroom, mosquitos and midges twinkling above the lift lobbies and candescent crocodiles and rhinoceros beetles embellishing the glass panels in the guest hallways.

The hotel’s swanky mini-fleet of BMW X3s are enveloped in a quirky Brisvegas wrap featuring everything from a monster Brahman T-bone from the celebrated Big Gun Butchers to a renowned Yatala pie. 

Emerge from the lift on the third floor to a wall of Plate Expectations, a ceramic still life of suburban Australiana by Sydney artist Mechelle Bounpraseuth. But it’s not these deliriously fun plates of meat pies, Smith’s potato chips and Chiko Rolls that you’ve come for.

The clink of glasses and the most heavenly of aromas from the hotel’s showcase restaurant are close but there’s another striking piece to bring you to a grinding halt. Bloody oath! It’s a rippled wall of Brisvegas sayings by larrikin artist Lucas Grogan. And the waiter will be bursting to tell you that as the self-confessed bogan artist neared the end of this cheeky commission last year, he invited all founding W staff members to add their favourite local lingo. “That’s mine,” he laughs, pointing to ‘Go hard or go home’. But the Moreton Bay bugs in lemon and fermented chilli are beckoning, so it’s into the “less white tablecloth” ethical produce restaurant, Three Blue Ducks — the fourth east coast venue for food-loving surfers Mark LaBrooy, Chris Sorrell and Sam Reid-Boquist. The ducks number more than three these days but the “honest, real food” philosophy at their restaurants in Bronte, Byron Bay, Rosebery and now Brisbane, remains.

It’s Brisbane chef Adam Stewart that explains that much of the produce on the menu comes from Falls Farm, an organic market garden nestled in the hills behind Mapleton on the Sunshine Coast. The heirloom vegies and other hearty fare are used in the most divine of dishes including harissa pumpkin, turmeric and cashew cream with kale, radish, sauerkraut and birdseed mix and the gobsmackingly-good porchetta with smoked parsnip puree, beetroot and apple saddle, fennel granola and mustard jus. But is doesn’t end there. The Three Blue Ducks’ kitchen composts and returns the rich mix back to the farm.

Early mornings at this culinary gem are also a sensory experience. A full buffet overflowing with vegan and gluten-free options greets guests. As you throw back a virgin bloody mary and crunch on toasted macadamia shards amid a glorious mango Bircher muesli, you take in the Toowong-bound City Cat on the Brisbane River as it pulls in to South Bank and catch a glimpse of the 301 bus to Toombul as south-east Queenslanders start their day.

But don’t get stuck on the ducks. W Brisbane’s Living Room Bar evolves from a classy daytime lounge to a glam cocktail bar by night. And this venue’s High Tea of Aus is quite like no other. From its lemonade scones with quandong jam to the torched ironbark honey nougat and the hibiscus jammy lamingtons. Truly an authentic Aussie journey of flavour. 

Music, another of the W’s passion points alongside Fashion and Fuel, is so crucial to the hotel’s fabric that they have a full-time DJ. As music curator, Little Fritter creates playlists for every area of the hotel and every function. And he’s so popular, he now has quite a following on Spotify.

There’s quirky at every turn. From the floor mats that magically change in the lifts from Good Morning to Good Afternoon and Good Evening, to the crystal-endowed giant thong in the foyer. 

And then there’s the rooms. There’s 312 including 32 luxe suites all brimming with river views and all inspired by wide-verandah, lengthy breezeway Queenslanders and the outback. There’s a voluminous 44-gallon drum-style bath and the funkiest of bar fridges inspired by W designer Nic Graham’s own post-war food safe. 

The penultimate Extreme Wow Suite on Level 33 showcases the best of the W’s retro treasures and views.

The hotel’s “whatever/ whenever” service is also true to its name. Hit the button on the phone in your room or saunter up to the “whatever desk” with your request. Chances are it will be one of the spirited team of concierges who will rise to the challenge. 

They speak of the time they were required to find a photograph of Point Break heartthrob Johnny Utah

Fact File

The W is well located just a 10-minute walk to Roma Street Station and the convenient Air Train, and just across the road is a ferry terminal for both CityCat and free hopper services. Rooms start at $269. Too book, see here 


Jenni Storey was a guest of Marriott International. They have not seen or approved this story.


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