No prizes for guessing what Como the Treasury once was: the hotel occupies Perth’s historic State Buildings, whose past lives include town hall, post office, land titles office… and treasury. Instead of civic documents and pen-pushing officials, expect indigenous flavours at Wildflower, Kakudu-plum facials at the spa in the vaults and eye-pop city views at every turn.
Get this when you book through us:
A honeycake from Honeycake bakery, plus early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability); book an hour-long massage and you’ll get an extra 15 minutes on the house
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £300.11 (AU$539), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include the impressive à la carte breakfast, in-room films, snacks and soft drinks (replenished daily) and WiFi.
Buildings as important as this one require top-notch talent: trail-blazing architect Kerry Hill was called in to oversee the hotel’s three-year restoration, which included reinstalled dormer windows, rooftop copper trimmings and a stripped facade, revealing the original render. Typically of Hill, muted neutrals set the tone inside: composed canvases of white, sand, cream, taupe, tan and grey.
At the hotel
Spa; swimming pool; yoga and pilates studio; fitness centre; courtyard; access to the State Buildings’ retail and hospitality complex. In rooms: TV; iPod dock; desk; minibar; Como Shambhala bath products. Caffeine-fiends can request an in-room Illy espresso machine.
Our favourite rooms
Rooms sprawl across former civic offices, with huge windows and bathrooms bigger than most boardrooms. Skip the ground-floor City Rooms (less light, less impressive views) and opt for one of the three palatial Studio Suites on the corner of the building.
Gawp at Perth as you crawl up an appetite for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the hotel’s top-floor, 20m indoor pool, which has floor-to-ceiling glass walls with wow-factor city views.
Como can do spas in its sleep – this one, set in what was once the treasury’s vaults, is no exception. The signature 75-minute massage is a sound investment; Sodashi facials harness the rejuvenating power of native ingredients, including vitamin C-packed Kakadu plum, snow flower, mountain pepper and emu apple.
Leave plenty of room in your case: you’ll want to stock up on artisan chocolate, jewellery, threads, tea and honeycake – yes, really – from the little independent businesses that share the hotel’s State Buildings.
Little Smiths of all sizes are invited. Babysitting is available for $29 an hour (a three-hour minimum applies). Baby essentials (cots, bedlinen, highchairs and more) can be provided, as can books and board games for bigger bairns.
Rooftop restaurant Wildflower has a breezy al fresco area that spies on Swan River and the city – perfect for sunny meals or pre-dinner drinks. At Post, nab one of the back benches, which are equally suited to courting couples or sociable groups.
You’re in a former treasury: add gold accents and vintage flourishes. Up the ante for Wildflower and Post by night; these are prestigious, heritage settings, after all.
Good times blossom naturally at Wildflower, Como the Treasury’s top-floor restaurant, decorated with flower motifs and hits of bright green. Chef Jed Gerrard gives indigenous ingredients a star turn on his accomplished menu, developed in accordance with the six Aboriginal seasons: Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang. Take your tastebuds on a culinary safari and try smoked kangaroo, marron with saltbush and native lime, or Shark Bay saucer scallops with sesame cream, fennel and apple. Post is the hotel’s more casual ground-floor eatery, serving bistro food with a distinctly Australian spin – cured hiramasa kingfish, for example. Health-nuts can stay smug by ordering from the Como Shambhala menu; the spicy pumpkin and chickpea curry is a highlight.
As its name suggests, the Treasury Lounge and Bar is a relaxed space, more a series of sofa-graced rooms, where you can settle in with a cocktail, than a formal bar area. Don’t miss the local wine list, which showcases Margaret River to grape effect.
Dine until 10pm at Post and Wildflower; breakfast is on offer between 6.30am and 10.30am, daily.
Post’s all-day dining menu is available until 11pm; after that, there’s a late-night menu that will keep you fed, watered and wined until 6am.
Como the Treasury occupies prime real estate in Perth’s Central Business District: it’s housed in the historic State Buildings, which rub shoulders with the cathedral and spy on Swan River.
Perth Airport is 12km away (a 20-minute drive). There’s a taxi rank right outside the airport; the hotel can also arrange luxury transfers (from $155 per vehicle for up to four guests, each way).
Perth Station on Wellington Street is a 10-minute walk. 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 sleeper train; the journey from Sydney takes three days (www.railaustralia.com.au).
With wheels at your disposal, you can swap city thrills for Margaret River and Swan Valley. Driving around Perth is pretty stress-free: roads are wide and safe.
Worth getting out of bed for
Unwind with a Como Shambhala massage in the treasury’s former vaults, then continue the health kick with a session of yoga or Pilates in the little studio. The fitness centre also has a swish gym and rooftop pool. Spend some time – and money – in the Treasury’s neighbouring businesses in the State Buildings: a cherry-picked selection of boutiques, bars, spas, cafés and restaurants. Stretch your legs on Cottesloe Beach (try surfing or paddleboarding, if you’re feeling lively) and quench your thirst with sundowners at the iconic Cottesloe Beach Club. Nip across to Rottnest Island by ferry from Freemantle (a 45-minute journey); once you get there, hire bikes and go quokka-spotting. If you don’t have enough time to spend a few days at bucolic Margaret River – a two and a half hour drive from Perth – try Swan Valley instead; it’s only a 25-minute drive from Perth and has a range of tempting wineries. Do things properly (i.e. boozily) by joining a wine tour.
David Thompson proved he can ace Thai fine dining at Nahm; get a flavour for his more casual side at Long Chim in the State Buildings, where Thompson dishes up Thai street food in a fun, informal setting. Canter through seasonal shared plates at Petition Kitchen (also in the State Buildings), which sensibly champions the region’s bounty. If we liked the phrase ‘industrical-chic’, we’d apply it here.
Not quite a café, but a handmade coffee cart, Telegram champions locally roasted beans brewed by top barista Luke Arnold. You’ll find the cart parked up behind the Postal Hall in the State Buildings’ Postal Place; look out for the 135-year-old crank wheel, salvaged from the surroundings during their restoration.
Blue crushed-velvet furnishings, theatre lighting, steel bank-safe shutters, gold swan-beak taps in the bathrooms – Halford Bar is a hit of 1950s eye-candy. It’s also very good at cocktails, and another stylish State Buildings boon.
We arrive in Perth after a week savouring the delights of Margaret River – heavenly wineries, white sand beaches, dreamy forest walks and way too much SSB (as we have learnt to call sauvignon semillon blanc). It's been a brilliant, sun-buffed dance with nature but Mrs Smith, a thoroughly urban girl, feels it's now time to get back to the joy of buzzy streets, glistening shops, fired-up people and rooftop-bar cocktails.
Our return to city slickerdom couldn't be sweeter. We dump the hire car and jump in a London-style black cab – apparently there's some 50 of them in this most isolated of cities. It whizzes us to the entrance of Como The Treasury, a haughty-looking pile that forms part of the State Buildings, a monumental ensemble from the 1890s that originally housed the General Post Office, Treasury and Lands and Titles offices. You can't get more central than this – literally, as this is the ‘point zero’ from which all distances in Western Australia are measured.
Ah, civilisation! Como's hotels and resorts are renowned for their sophisticated, soul-soothing style, and this one – the collection's debut in Australia – is cool, confident and calming. Check-in formalities amount to little more than a smartly-dressed butler arriving with two very welcome glasses of chilled Taittinger. ‘The bush is all very well,’ Mrs Smith sighs, ‘but I think this is where we belong.’
Rising to four floors, the Treasury sat vacant for 20 years before Fremantle-born starchitect Kerry Hill set about transforming this august home for bean-counters and penny-pinchers into an immaculate minimalist temple, complete with original vault doors, ornate plasterwork and restored jarrah wood floors. Every one of the 48 rooms and suites is different and generally composed of two former offices – one now the bedroom, one the bathroom – which means it all feels whoppingly grand.
This is January, the height of summer in the sunniest city in Australia, so this Mr Smith has taken a punt on a smaller third-floor Heritage Balcony room – which proves a masterstroke. On arrival we throw open the French doors to find a sweet terrace furnished with two cosy chairs and a table. It's the sort of commanding position from where, after a few beers from the complimentary minibar, one might make a lordly speech to the good citizens of Perth.
One part of the State Buildings used to house a cell block, and it is ironic that we are now so very happy to be incarcerated here. Our room is a vast, peaceful box of creamy woods and heated travertine stone, softened with lined white dressing gowns and blissful Egyptian cotton sheets. When we eventually venture out, this fusion of three heritage buildings proves quite a puzzle. The hotel's sleek 20m indoor pool and fitness centre are well worth the convoluted journey, but allow a fortnight to find the library. Meanwhile, down in the depths somewhere, lies the spacious and gracious Como Shambhala Urban Escape. Mrs Smith can't resist and checks in for a Sodashi thermal infusing facial with a hand and foot massage.
Further treats await in the central Post Office Hall which is now given over to shiny lifestyle emporia that include a chocolatier, fine tea specialist, florist, jeweller and purveyor of gourmet hampers.
Breakfast is served in Post, which used to be the franking room, and offers a forked road to the healthy or the indulgent. We favour the latter, going down in style with some zucchini rosti with smoked salmon, dill and lemon-scented cottage cheese. Later in the day one might sink craft ales in the Petition Beer Corner or nibble Thai street food at David Thompson's Long Chim, but our dinner choice is Wildflower, an elegant restaurant and terrace bar set in a glass box on the top floor. And how Perth likes to dress up at night – from up here there's a superb view of the city's buildings festooned with coloured lights.
Mrs Smith loves the Aboriginal-inspired seasonal cuisine of exec chef Jed Gerrard, and we're particularly impressed by some crab with daikon and lime, and an ambrosial reinvention of cauliflower cheese.
The next day, well fed and well slept, I have some work to do before meeting Mrs Smith for lunch – leaving her free to gad about with the help of a map and some tips from the concierge. His best advice? Make use of the free colour-coded CAT buses that circle Downtown, and take at look at the Perth Mint.
‘It's really well done,’ Mrs Smith reports, ‘and tells the story of how the city got rich. There's gold absolutely everywhere and a great little gift shop…’
‘I was tempted,’ Mrs Smith continues. ‘There was a very gorgeous bracelet in pink and white diamonds for just 26,000 dollars... But instead I bought you THIS.’
The shiny gold magnet shaped like a bullion bar I unwrap now sits proudly on the fridge door back at Smith Towers, an apt memento of our happy nights in an exquisite hotel that is – without doubt – a treasure to visit.