Crystalbrook Collection has put the vamp into revamp at Crystalbrook Vincent. The former Art Series hotel looks a little different, but it’s the outstanding service and green credentials that make this 5-star all the way.
On the brink of downtown Brisbane, Crystalbrook Vincent is part of the bold revitalisation of neglected but no less spectacular urban space. Howard Smith Wharves was a series of 1930’s wharf buildings that, despite the multi-million dollar views, were well overdue for a 21st-century makeover.
Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge was constructed above the busy central wharves. Fearing invasion during WW2, the government built five separate air-raid shelters on the wharf site. Later, the area slowly disappeared from memory when the once busy wharves were relocated downstream.
Howard Smith Wharves (HSW) is now a tourist attraction even the locals love. A clever combo of heritage-listed and modern architecture, HSW has become a dining hotspot attracting some of the country’s savviest restaurant players. The towering cliffs and the bridge add an extra level of drama to the already spectacular river and city skyline.
The location is steps away from your new favourite restaurants – Stanley, Greca and onsite Polpetta for delicious Italian. Cleverly, the wide purpose-built walkway connects you via a glass elevator to the Valley.
Not to mention you’re walking distance to some of Brisbane’s best big-name retail.
The dazzling, multi-faceted, gold and bronze geometric glass façade is undoubtedly a standout. While echoing the rough angles of the natural cliff wall, it ties in the bridge and skyline’s architecture.
A statement sweep of a driveway with a red Ferrari makes you know you’ve arrived. But, in contempt of the usual 5-star rule of the grand foyer, Crystalbrook Vincent’s reception is simpler, cosy even. Tinted glass separates you and the reception staff from the striking cliff wall and immediately makes you feel cosy – not overwhelmed.
There’s little space left on the lobby walls for more of namesake artist Vincent Fantauzzo’s photorealist works. His portraits make the reception both refuge and a particularly luxe gallery space.
There are more than 500 iterations of the regular Archibald Prize finalist’s outstanding work across the six floors of the Vincent.
The 166-key hotel features spacious, moody rooms with a backdrop of cliff-face or river views. It’s all about the framing. The floor-to-ceiling views happily compete for your attention with the artist’s work in black, or is that ‘dark, heather charcoal’ frames?
We scored a river view with the Story Bridge sheltering us silently overhead. Everything about this property screams’ Urban Refuge’. Keeping the built world at a very short distance while revelling in its best bits. Along with the artist’s son Luca in Superman’s costume safeguarding us, it feels like we are protected.
Who needs forest bathing when you can soak in uninterrupted views of this ever-growing skyline?
‘Gold’ side tables make a glamorous statement against the polished concrete walls and floor, while an emerald velvet sectional makes a perfect buffer. Meanwhile, the bed is king-sized and designed for luxuriating.
While the Nespresso machine sits alone on the bench-top other amenities are well-hidden behind black cabinetry. And, some bathrooms feature both a soaking tub and a rainwater shower.
As night falls, the brown snake aka the Brisbane River disappears as the bridge and city light up.
Clean and Green
The Crystalbrook Collection pays more than mere lip service to saving the planet. The hotel group sees #responsibleluxury more as a promise than a hashtag.
The portfolio of hotels is one of Australia’s leading sustainable hospitality companies, has become the country’s first hospitality group to offer 100% waste-free bathroom amenities.
The green philosophy is straightforward across all six properties. For example, the Crystalbrook Collection has saved over three million plastic bottles from landfills in the last two years with a single-use plastic-free philosophy. So along with paperless check-in, room keys are made from recycled wood, coat-hangers come from recycled paper, and toothbrushes started life as sugar cane and corn starch.
Produce for the Polpetta and Fiume rooftop bar is 80% sourced from within three hours of the property.
Polpetta and Fiume
Turn left in the lobby for a little bit of Italy. Polpetta features laidback Italian fare, served family-style.
For Antipasti, start with Noosa mushroom arancini, sage and Taleggio with Parmesan aioli. Or feather-light Moreton Bay calamari fritti, lemon, fennel seed aioli. And of course, who can go past the namesake Polpetta – beef and pork meatballs, tomato sugo and smoked Scamorza served with Focaccia.
Whatever you do, order the exceptional charred grain and nut sourdough bread lightly toasted on the grill and served with smoked butter.
Chef Steven Herold and his team work wonders in the kitchen. Pasta and risotto are very, very good. The Jerusalem artichoke risotto is a bowl of comfort. Vegetarians will love the Casarecci Genovese, pesto, green beans, pinenuts and potato. The slow-braised lamb shoulder is fragrant, slightly sticky and divine.
Poolside Fiume is more than a rooftop bar. Market umbrellas keep it all relaxed against a backdrop of the bridge’s giant trusses. Because this is Brisbane, it is summer all year long, and it doesn’t get much better than spuntino with Dal Zotto Prosecco.
Could this be Brisbane’s best Sunday Brunch spot?
Faultless Service. Bravo to staff that went above and beyond finding lost property. Care and attention seem the Crystalbrook Vincent mantra.
Disclaimer: TML were Crystalbrook Vincent guests.