Let’s face it. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are always impressed when hotel staff address you by name throughout your stay. Bonus points might be awarded for spotting one letter wrong on your ‘partner in crime’s’ name and then ringing to apologise before changing it on the Mirror finish LED TV in your suite. Ladies and Gentlemen, ThisMagnificentLife has arrived at Emporium Hotel South Bank.
Dispatched at the Emporium drop-off we couldn’t miss the enormous driveway-length screen with dazzling, videos from the hotel’s partners like Maserati, QPAC, GOMA, Australian Ballet and Griffith University. There’s more dazzle at the Grey St entrance. Look up for a kinetic screen that shimmers and waves in the breeze. A very large, bold Emporium ‘E’ hovers over the glass entrance. Over the next 24 hours, it’s the first of many ‘E’s’ that we’ll encounter as part of our Emporium experience.
The lobby space is luxurious and flooded with natural light from the floor to ceiling glass. Capitalising on that light, the live, delicate, dendrobium orchid floor-to-ceiling wall forms Reception’s backdrop. But it’s the tropical frangipani you’ll encounter most – from the signature hotel fragrance to the smallest of décor details.
By now, you may have guessed that you won’t see a lot of particleboard at Emporium Hotel South Bank. There is a lot of glass, mirrored surfaces and dynamic use of new age plastic that glows, glistens or shimmers. Design-driven, this boutique hotel packs a one-two punch, even in the elevators.
The hotel is the vision of Brisbane architect and developer dynamos, Anthony and Francine John. Every element has been designed or handpicked or commissioned by the dynamic duo.
Their original Fortitude Valley Emporium Hotel was a prototype if you like for this grander yet compact property. Less focused on the corporate market, the ‘new’ Emporium may only have 143 suites but is surrounded by 222 residences that are fully integrated to enjoy the hotel’s services from room service to daily cleaning.
How suite it is
There are no bad rooms here – every suite style offers something different. If you love an oversized spa tub in a roomy bathroom, the River City King Suite is for you. These suites allow you to throw open the balcony doors for perhaps the very best view of the River City.
Here it seems everything bears the Emporium Hotel South Bank imprimatur; from your extra-comfy zebra print slippers, towelling robes to those frangipanis on the teacups and the fine cotton sheets. A choice of showerheads in the party-sized shower, a Eurocave wine fridge, and extensive mini-bar up the ante.
Vista Suites take in ‘Queenslander’ views over Western Brisbane, while for brides it has to be one of the Exquisite Suites with large dressing room and full-length robe just right for a wedding dress. These ‘Honeymoon’ suites have freestanding tubs, 3 showerheads, with furnished balconies and of course large cocktail bars with zebra bar stools.
The two expansive, Emporium suites not only have luxurious tubs with skyline and river views you can also ride in style via the complimentary Maserati inner-city chauffeur service.
You can daydream you’re Richard Branson In one of the three poolside Cabanas suites for a night or two. There are more of those sparkling, uninterrupted views and bonus exclusive access to the infinity pool between 10 pm and 6 am. Speaking of that pool …
To infinity and beyond
Spectacular pools have been an integral addition to every 2018 Brisbane hotel opening. Think of this 23m stunner as a smaller version of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands game-changer. Backed by those Cabana suites, frangipani trees with luxurious loungers and cabanas, this is one of the country’s most spectacular cooling-off spots.
To the top – Level 21 and the Terrace
Sharing Level 21 the pool deck leads on to the gym and the one-of-a-kind zebra tile-lined combined steam room with plunge pool. Adjectives like glamorous and opulent don’t quite cut it when describing this little piece of peace. During summer especially, Brisbane’s weather can be best described as unpredictable. To deal with blistering sunshine and dripping humidity, two retractable roofs were installed to offer full, partial or no exposure to the elements. 40 seconds and hey presto the Terrace is open-air.
Dining at Emporium Hotel South Bank
The hotel didn’t launch with the originally planned big-name chef and much-anticipated restaurant. Instead, the hotel has staggered the introduction of each dining venue. The Terrace by day is a generous breakfast buffet venue with made to order eggs – Florentine, Benedict or omelettes. At night, it is one of Brisbane’s brightest bars complete with a back-lit floor. Dare I say disco lights?
Belle Époque was a firm favourite at the previous incarnation at the Valley and has now expanded in the new digs. Still an all-day café and champagne bar, it’s a little touch of Paris in downtown South Bank. Executive Sous Chef (Pastry) Alexandra Liddle makes the magic happen with some of Brisbane’s finest patisserie. She also makes all the chocolates and ornate take home cakes. Mornings see regulars sipping their daily lattes while others do a pre-theatre cheese board and champagne in the late afternoon.
High Tea at Belle Époque is available daily and currently celebrates the Australian Ballet’s performance of ‘Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland’. The brightly coloured and ornate delicacies are reminiscent of many moments from the well-loved children’s tale. Purple smoked salmon cornets, delicate mushroom tarts and finger sandwiches are just the beginning.
The piece de resistance may be the ‘Queen of Tarts’ – a delicious alchemy of salted caramel, chocolate fudge, Valrhona Tainori mousse and whipped mascarpone. Keep room for the oversized macaron and blueberry thyme and violet chequerboard sponge. Sip a glass of NV Mumm for an exquisite moment.
The as yet unnamed, signature restaurant, will be headed by Executive Chef Chris Norman and is due to open over the next few weeks. (Watch this space). The restaurant will also feature a private dining room with a display kitchen so you can watch the chef prepare your feast. No doubts, the restaurant will be modern and while elegant not at all stuffy.
The Piano Bar – Putting on the Ritz
As perhaps the first media to taste the latest addition to Emporium South Bank, we can recommend this for those who like their cocktails or bottle aged-spirits in a relaxed and sophisticated space. The atmosphere is pure theatre with plenty of glossy lipstick red splashes, backlit onyx bar and frangipani embellishments.
From 10 am to 12 pm daily the Piano Bar hosts brunch, followed by an all-day menu. A pianist tinkles the ivories from late afternoon with live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s also a late night menu designed for night owls and the wee small hours.
Hospitality with an E
From the moment you arrive Chief Concierge Graham Hodgson and his team ensure your every whim is satisfied. This attention to detail and exemplary service is what sets this property apart; something that is rarely seen in Australia.
You might think it’s all about the décor, technology and ambience but it’s really the little details and the uncompromising service that makes all the difference at Emporium Hotel South Bank. There are no cookie cutter solutions or cost-cutting like you’ll see at most of the 5-star chains. Every moment is bespoke and handcrafted – it really IS all about YOU at this very boutique hotel.
Disclaimer: This Magnificent Life were guests of Emporium Hotel South Bank.