Fly into Brisbane Airport (www.bne.com.au), 13 kilometres from the CBD, which is serviced by most major airlines as well as domestic carriers Qantas (www.qantas.com.au), Jetstar (www.jetstar.com) and Virgin Australia (www.virginaustralia.com). A taxi from the airport to the hotel costs around AU$40, catch the Airtrain (www.airtrain.com.au) to Fortitude Valley for AU$12, or arrange luxury sedan transfers with the hotel for AU$85 each way domestic or AU$115 international.
If you’ve got the patience, you can catch an interstate train (www.countrylink.info) into Roma Street Station in the Brisbane CBD. The nearest train station to Spicers Balfour is Fortitude Valley, an easy 1.5-kilometre stroll from the hotel.
There is a wealth of car-hire options at Brisbane Airport, and free off-street parking at Spicers Balfour.
For getting around the local area, rent a CityCycle bike (www.citycycle.com.au) and revel in the sunshine that Brisbane is renowned for. Also, be sure to take a ride on a CityCat (www.translink.com.au) – the fleet of catamarans that are part of the public-transport network and glide along the Brisbane River day and night. Spicers Balfour is in the heart of the action, so you’ll be able to explore the area easily by foot.
Worth getting out of bed for
Art lovers can while away an afternoon wandering through the quirky mélange of galleries dotted along the streets of Fortitude Valley. Keep an eye out for Dante, the resident labradoodle at the Jan Murphy Gallery (486 Brunswick Street; +61 (0)7 3254 1855), who is occasionally mistaken for a sculpture. For a touch of greenery, drift down the other end of Brunswick Street to New Farm Park, where the locals flock to picnic, nurse hangovers, throw a frisbee or fire up the riverside barbecue. Treat your tastebuds to the farmers’ markets held every Saturday morning, worth checking out if only for the delectable gourmet samples on offer. Perched on the edge of New Farm Park, the Brisbane Powerhouse (119 Lamington Street; +61 (0)7 3358 8622) is an arts and cultural centre housed in a decommissioned powerhouse. If you lean towards the avant-garde, you’ll find all manner of folly at this establishment, including theatre, art and comedy. Enjoy a Sunday session seasoned by river breezes at its resident watering holes, Bar Alto (+61 (0)7 3358 1063) and Watt (+61 7 3358 5464). For a shot of sartorial inspiration, head to Ann, Brunswick and James Streets in Fortitude Valley, where your credit card will be begging for a work-out. Gents can peruse the threads at Angus Black (665 Ann Street; +61 (0)7 3252 8641), and ladies yearn for the frocks lining the racks at Blonde Venus (707 Ann Street; +61 (0)7 3216 1735). While you’re in the neighbourhood, pop around the corner to Winn Lane for vintage treasures, adorable stationery and hearty café fare.
Inspired by the unfussy yet sumptuous cuisine of Continental Europe, The Continental Café (+61 (0)7 3254 0377), at 21 Barker Street, serves up classic European food in a cosy setting. With decor reminiscent of the Hemingway era, award-winning The Buffalo Club at 1/234 Wickham Street (+61 (0)7 3216 1323) offers seasonal tasting menus paired with perfectly matched wines. Recommended for adventurous palates.
The bleary-eyed revellers who line up outside Au Cirque Café (618 Brunswick Street; +61 (0)7 3254 0479) are lovers of fine food who come to heal their weary souls with wholesome breakfasts or lunches. The café’s tasty corn cakes and creamy eggs Benedict will change your world. Francophiles also queue out the door of Chouquette (1/19 Barker Street; +61 (0)7 3358 6336) to indulge in the flaky baked treats of this French pâtisserie.
Laid-back Gertie’s Bar and Restaurant at 699 Brunswick Street (+61 (0)7 3358 5088) is set to a soothing soundtrack of jazz, with large open windows ideal for sipping cocktails amid tropical summer breezes. Be sure to try the Oscar Wilde – a beguiling fusion of tequila, lime, guava and ginger.