Westin is traditionally a business-hotel brand. That makes walking into the brand new Westin Brisbane open-air bar entrance a little surprising. Arrive via cab (too new even for Uber’s radar) and you find a more conventional valet-manned entrance.
This is Westin’s big premiere in the Sunshine State. Westin – a hotel pioneer in the US is quickly expanding through Australia with openings soon in both Adelaide and Darwin with a Coolum resort also to be unveiled.
Walking in, the new hotel smell is quickly replaced by a waft of welcoming, signature white tea scent. Check-in is fairly straightforward with a touch of trainer wheels in motion as to be expected with such a new property as the Westin Brisbane.
Not quite as corporate as one would imagine, rooms and suites here are full of thoughtful and clever touches. Our corner River View King’s floor to ceiling windows perfectly frames the river with Story Bridge glimpses. The river sparkles at night.
A plush bathrobe is posed somewhat intringuingly in the contemporary and stylish but functional bathroom. No bath but a choice of rainwater or hand-held showerheads with the latter sporting a serious pulse option. Lighting is excellent meaning the adjustable makeup mirror doesn’t need back up to check out your dial.
Westin is possibly the very first chain to retail their own beds to adoring hotel fans. Can sheets be both crispy and satiny? Whatever the thread count Westin ‘Heavenly‘ beds live up to their name. And if that isn’t enough to send you off to the land of nod, the little roll-on Sleep Well lavender balm surely will.
First. Lunch with Nigella
After excellent bubbles, canapés and main courses at Eden’s Table restaurant, it’s time for the main attraction – Nigella Lawson. As part of Marriott Moments reward program, Ms Lawson was special lunch guest for the Rewardees.
It seems like we’ve known the original domestic goddess forever. Like Martha Stewart and Ina Garten, she has graced our TV and bookshelves for many years.
Nigella is in the River City to let everyone know she’ll be back in February for live talkfests with cooking, eating, drinking and rather bravely Q and A’s with the public. Today, she’s answering a few questions about home cooking, her cookbooks and where she dined the night before. (She highly recommends Donna Changs).
Nautilus – Pool and swim-up bar
Infinity pools normally reach out to the ocean. At Westin Brisbane, the pool reaches out to the CBD. It’s more than a little surreal to swim to the edge of Mary St, surrounded by multi-story office blocks. The experience is made even sweeter with Brisbane’s first swim-up pool bar. This is sure to be one of the city’s most sought-after function destinations. Cocktails by the pool or cocktails in the pool – adds to the urban resort feel.
The pool sits next to an expansive 24/7 gym better known as the WestinWorkout Fitness Studio. Guests can sign up for aqua aerobics, Pilates and yoga classes. Wellness is Westin’s mantra so there’s also self-guided running routes or jog with your running buddy – Run Concierge.
Eden’s Table – Ocean, Paddock, Vine
Executive Chef Steve Sweetman is now the man in charge of the Westin Brisbane’s three dining venues. After a career from Europe to the Middle East, he now oversees Eden’s Table, The Charles’ (named in honour of Australian aviators Charles Ulm and Charles Kingsford Smith) and Nautilus. The Charles is a café by day/bar at night and is the first stage of the Mary Lane dining precinct.
After a very inviting entry of backlit marble, Eden’s Table design is like many business hotels’ main restaurants – business-like. Sitting by the window, relaxing with a pre-dinner quaffer you feel part of the very busy and open kitchen.
With no shortage of very earnest but smiling staff, the nearly full room is constantly moving. With a focus on locally sourced produce, the provenance of much of the menu makes for good reading.
The dedicated Cold and Raw bar shows off Aussie seafood with Noosa prawns, NSW mid-coast Kingfish and Moreton Bay Bugs. The Seafood platter looks like an extravaganza built for two very hungry people.
We tried a delicious entrée of pork belly and perfectly cooked duck main. A delightful Provence Rose worked perfectly with both on a warm night. The wine list is a seriously good read – expertly curated selections by the glass and bottle.
In a slightly retro move, Eden’s Table desserts are served from a trolley. With a dedicated pastry kitchen like most big hotels, this makes sense but choices are a little limited. So a very good yuzu tart and mud cake it is.
Breakfast is Eat Well, Continental or a la carte and bountiful. Bircher muesli along with a serious lineup of fruits, nuts and yoghurt is a good place to start. Omelettes are made to order and fresh pastries, in addition to European and Asian offerings, make for plenty of choice or indecision.
It’s been the year of new hotels in the River City. From boutique to historically restored and everything in between. With mid-scale to luxury and lifestyle brands, the city now has a little of everything. The new Westin combines corporate with leisure exceedingly well. And that swim-up bar ensures every Westin Brisbane guest can feel, work, eat, sleep and play well.