This sleek, black-and-white habitué is in Perth’s Cultural Centre, just north of the CBD. Its Northbridge neighbourhoods include James Street’s bars and clubs, a clique of modern-art galleries, and avant-garde performance spaces.
Perth Airport (www.perthairport.com.au) is the closest international hub, a 20-minute drive away. Direct flights arrive from South Africa, the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and New Zealand, and there are frequent domestic services. There's also a train service from the airport straight to Perth Station.
Perth Railway Station is a five-minute walk from the hotel. Transperth trains run to destinations along West Australia’s coast and inland. If you’re travelling from the east coast, hop on a Rail Australia (www.railaustralia.com.au) sleeper train; the journey from Sydney takes three days.
Driving in Perth is as laid back as the city itself, give or take a little peak congestion. There’s an Avis car-hire booth at the airport, and it’s worth securing a GPS – freeway exits can be tricky. Take National Highway 94 and State Route 8 from the airport to the hotel. Parking is close by at the City of Perth car park (by the State Library); it’s AU$32.90 for 24 hours.
Worth getting out of bed for
Perth’s Cultural Centre is at the heart of the hotel’s on-trend Northbridge neighbourhood. You’re likely to stumble upon challenging plays, live shows by local bands or much-debated art exhibits thanks to its many galleries, theatres and buzzing bars. The familiar pointillism and abstract symbolism of indigenous Australian art become more complex when viewed through a contemporary lens in the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s impressive collection. Free volunteer-led tours are held frequently, and the rotating exhibitions are renowned. A champion of up-and-coming playwrights – alongside the sublime and ridiculous – the Blue Room Theatre has covered subjects as diverse as teaching robots how to feel, and ballets defending the ubiquity of Apple products – attend with an open mind.
Borrow one of the hotel’s bikes for a 13km cycle to Cottesloe Beach. Legendary as the birthplace of surfing in Perth, this curve of coast overlooks breath-taking Indian Ocean sunsets, and fish and chip shops sit close by. Its centrepiece is an art nouveau house built by John Curtin, Australia’s 14th prime minister. For ventures further afield, appropriately named Penguin Island is a 45-minute drive from Perth: kayak and kite-board, or spy seals, dolphins and a colourful cast of underwater critters from a glass-bottom boat.
Stop for lunch at Flipside Burgers; the chain is a (prime) cut above many bearing the tag. Beef, chicken and veggie patties are layered with intriguing toppings (beetroot slices and fried egg, or pear and parmesan), and the Burger of the Month Club throws breakfast and country-themed offerings into the mix. Prince Harry is allegedly a fan of the Queen Victoria Burger. The Alex’s own Nic Trimboli conceived low-lit, intimate Balthazar, where dishes are crafted from the region's finest with stylish – and delicious – results. Head to Lalla Rookh (named after a showgirl from mining town Kalgoorlie) for high-end Italian fare: charcuterie and cheese plates, seasonal dishes and a reassuringly abridged pizza selection.
Perth takes its coffee as seriously as any self-respecting Aussie; to find out just how seriously, try Lowdown espresso bar's single-origin java. if you prefer to pair your coffee with something sweet, Mary Street Bakery has treats galore, including doughnuts filled with rosewater and pistachio cream, passionfruit curd and salted caramel.
A sleek assemblage of lattice screens and leather banquettes dominated by an enticing spirits cabinet: font-monikered bar Helvetica has an epic whisky (and whiskey) list and cool cocktails (the Mexican Pornstar piqued our interest). Sustenance comes in the form of lemon-fried chorizo and black Angus beef pies. On Queen Street a red-brick former mill has been converted into The Flour Factory, a fine city drinkery. Its menu includes a chef's choice selection of small plates, and the drinks menu has impressive beer and wine picks. Head to the Sherry rooftop bar for alfresco sipping and socialising.