TheCalile Hotel exports Miami and Mexico’s resort-style glamour to this buzzing patch of Brisbane, replete with Instagram-worthy interiors that riff ravishingly on the Fifties. There’s a pose-worthy pool with the hotel’s name picked out in gold tiles, plus a gregarious, Greece-inspired restaurant that adds taverna hospitality to this urbane urban playground. Rooms are decked out in ice-cream-parlour hues (from peach to pistachio) with warm brass accents; many also come with admirable views of the city. Cocktails at the lobby bar (make ours a basil highball) and doctor-approved treatments at the Kailo Wellness Medispa are your additional cues to stay exactly where you are.
11am; earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £201.02 (AU$383), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually exclude breakfast, but include WiFi.
Local architects Richards & Spence deserve accolades galore for the debonair design scheme.
At the hotel
Library; salons; fitness centre; boutiques; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, minibar, kettle, tea and coffee, blackout curtains.
Our favourite rooms
We’re still dreaming about the huge poolside rooms with their balconies and prime pool views; Deluxe Suites are armed with a perfectly round bath tub by the bed, making for fun nights in…
The made-for-Instagram pool has the hotel’s name spelled out in glittering gold pool tiles; the word ‘iconic’ springs to mind.
Kailo Wellness Medispa fuses ancient wisdom and modern technology; the doctor-devised treatments to try here include intravenous vitamin therapy, immune and vitality boosts and vitamin shots.
Bring your best beachwear for that see-and-be-seen pool; something in mint-green, blush-pink or rose-gold to wear for dinner.
Little Smiths aged one and above are very welcome; the hotel poses no problems for pram-pushers. Babysitting can be arranged with a day’s notice (minimum three-hour booking; $35 an hour). The hotel can provide cots and DVDs.
This conscientious hotel has a minimal-plastic policy, including glass-only products in minibars. Alfresco breezeway corridors relieve the need for air-conditioning; eco modes for the in-room air-conditioning systems and lights reduce wasted electricity. Cold, filtered drinking water is provided throughout, instead of bottled water. Sustainable materials — such as cork — star in the design, and the hotel also works hard to collect and sort recyclables.
Nab seats on the outdoor terrace, which comes into its own in the evenings.
Unleash your inner Adonis/Aphrodite for Hellenika: model flowing layers and lashings of gold.
Oh the choices: street-inspired Thai comfort food at Same Same (indulge in the stir-fried scallops in chilli and basil); classic dining and sublime martinis at SK Steak & Oyster (oh hello, lobster risotto); delicious Greek cuisine at handsome Hellenika with its pretty globe lights (the hotel's motif) for kalamari, octopus, paidakia (lamb chops with roast spuds), and baklava.
The marble-lavished, blush-pink lobby bar is a shrine to art-deco decadence; sit back and order suitably stylish cocktails (a raspberry swizzle, strawberry spritz, basil highball or Calile espresso, perhaps) and let the chilled-out soundtrack waft into your ears.
Breakfast is served until 10am, lunch till 3pm and dinner until 9.30pm at Hellenika and the lobby bar. Drinks are mixed and muddled till 11pm.
You can order light bites, mains and sweet treats to your room until 10pm.
You’ll find the Calile Hotel on the corner of James and Doggett streets, in Brisbane’s hip-cat Fortitude Valley ’hood.
Brisbane Airport is a 20-minute drive away. There are regular flights here from all major Australian cities with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar. Numerous international carriers also service the airport.
Serving Brisbane and its surrounds, Fortitude Valley Station is five kilometres from the hotel.
The hotel’s on-site car park is accessible via a lift from the main lobby. Self-parking costs $25 for 24 hours; there’s also valet parking. It’s worth having a car so that you can explore the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast at your own pace.
Worth getting out of bed for
Indulge in a pampering session at the hotel’s calm and collected Kailo Wellness Medispa, whose treatments range from medical (IV vitamin drips, facial micro-dermabrasion, enzyme therapy) to wellness (wraps, scrubs and massages). You’ll also want to factor in some chill time at the Calile’s semi-private poolside cabanas; go armed with a good book (you absolutely don’t have to bother to read it). Stock up on Aussie designer threads with help from the Calile’s clutch of stylish boutiques.
Go gallery-hopping, ticking off the likes of Mitchell Fine Art, Suzanne O'Connell Gallery, for amazing indigenous art, QAGOMA and co. Wander down James Street, admiring the arsenal of amazing shops; you’ll need to exercise considerable restraint to resist the charms of top-notch Aussie-brand boutiques such as Zimmermann, Bec + Bridge and many more. Continue the foot tour at Howard Smith Wharves, which is a great spot for alfresco drinks and food.
For the best views in town, tackle the pulse-quickening Story Bridge Adventure Climb on Main Street; it’s one of only three bridge climbs in the world, rewarding explorers with a unique perspective of the city and its scenic surrounds. You’ll want to cool off after all that – go for a refreshing dip at Margate Beach in Redcliffe.
Join the discerning locals having brunch at Gauge on Grey Street, which invites you to begin your day with dishes such as crumpet toast with chicken mortadella, soft egg, brown butter, pork crackling and tobiko. We approve. Enjoy a relaxed dinner at playful Hello Please on Fish Lane, which serves flavour-packed Vietnamese fare, from salads to bao, bun cha and curries. You'll find a relaxed atmos among the hanging baskets at Chow Housefor Asian street food. For Italian fine dining, hit up handsome Otto on Level 4, 480 Queen Street, which counts a debonair dining room, an award-winning wine list and enticing Brisbane River views among its multiple charms.
Cloakroom Bar is a Montreal export on Elizabeth Street that has room for just 25 lucky bottoms. It serves classic cocktails with a twist, crafted with care and creativity.
On a sultry Sunday afternoon just days after our household had endured two weeks of the flu, and having left les enfants with the best kind of friend one can have (one that offers to take your children overnight), Mr Smith and I gleefully checked into the Calile. We really needed this.
Famous for its legendary pool, we were desperate to offload our bags, sink into its glorious depths and put memories of sniffles and snotty noses behind us. Zeus had other ideas. As we emerged from the lift to our poolside room, the heavens opened and rudely gave rise to another kind of aquatic adventure, one which we were glad to observe through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the room we’d be calling home for the next two nights.
I find few things more alluring than the silent luxury of a good hotel room. The design aesthetic at the Calile conjures up Miami or Palm Springs vibes, offering pleasing quarters for our mini escape, with sumptuous arched doorways that mirror the shape of the balconies flanking the external façade. The bathroom design and fit out, with pink marble and brass tapware, was just as inviting as the giant bed, minibar stacked with boozy and teetotal delights, and the most sublime chocolate brownies you’ll ever devour. Apparently, Ashton Kutcher once ordered a batch of these to be flown from Brisbane to Paris for his birthday. Whatever one might think of Ashton, he’s evidently got good taste.
With the storm directly over us and the pool off limits, Mr Smith thought it reasonable to suggest we make the most of the boudoir. I can confirm the bed was more than accommodating for Mr Smith’s six-foot-two-inch frame and my diminutive proportions. The rain finally let up, so we raced downstairs to jump in the pool. After finally enjoying that sweet dip, we slunk down to the Lobby Bar for an aperitif. I was immediately taken by how diverse the clientele was: ladies goo’ing over a sweet baby girl; a group of friends playing Uno and sipping their Calile Spritzes; gents talking shop; and older couples clearly enjoying the best years of their lives.
Mr Smith ordered the sexiest cocktail on the menu – Slightly Sloe – a mix of sloe gin, Chambord, crème de violette, Davidson plum, lavender, lemon, and egg white served in a coupe glass. Utterly sublime. The Lobby Bar offers an extensive selection to delight your palette, including an impressive array of gins and whiskey. The latter featuring selections from Scottish, Irish, and Japanese origin.
With several restaurants on its doorstep, the Calile is a food-lover’s paradise. Our choice was SK’s Steak and Oyster, which serves arguably the city’s best steak and can be a tricky place to snag a reservation. Props to the hotel’s concierge, who secured us a table. Not my first SK’s rodeo, I was wildly excited to return. We slid into our table and the maître d’ delivered our menus. Dining out, minus the mental curfew of a babysitter, was pure magic. We. Took. Our. Sweet. Ass. Time. Indulge me as I pour over the gastronomic delights of the evening: spanner crab, mushroom risotto, mouth-watering steak (you can choose from Black Angus, two grades of Wagyu, or Kiwami), rosemary and garlic roast potatoes (there is a ‘potato’ menu), honey-roasted carrots, creamed spinach and leek, accompanied by Rhone Valley Domaine d’Ourea. Satiated, we rolled out of SK’s with no space for dessert, not even a cheeky Messina (cult gelateria with the longest late-night queues, you’d think it was a club).
I had grand plans of sipping a peppermint tea and gormlessly watching a movie, but sleep came too easily. Mr Smith activated the automatic blackout blind, and I was out cold before he could say goodnight.
He had to work the following day, so was up and out early. The day was mine. Still full from the previous night’s gluttony, I decided to sweat it out in the hotel’s well- appointed gym, before prepping myself for a visit to the onsite Medispa, Kailo. I’m admittedly clueless when it comes to spa treatments. My idea of a good time is a Thai masseuse stretching my limbs in directions I thought not possible. Perusing the Kailo treatment menu, I was overwhelmed by the options: Vitamin Therapy, Intramuscular Booster Shots, Laser Treatments, PRP, BBL, DMK…so many acronyms! This basic bitch just booked a remedial massage and a sauna; both very satisfying. The spa personnel struck the perfect balance of being friendly and accommodating, yet unintrusive. I will be back to explore the acronyms. Time to hit the shops. James Street has become a mecca for local designers, and boutiques offering international brands. Gail Sorronda and Carmargue are my pick. I fell in love with a Marques Almeida party dress and a beaded bomber jacket that weighed about three kilos. I was hunting for a new pair of jeans, so these fanciful items were regretfully returned to their racks for now.
The sun bore down as I set myself up poolside for the remains of the day. I casually observed it was school pick-up time (haha – not today). Different crowd here now – young couples with babies occupying the cabanas, while the sun seemed to attract a bevy of Instragrammable couples, smooching in their barely-there swimwear. I ordered a fruit platter and sparkling water to my shaded lounger. Mr Smith took one for the team and headed home that night to solo parent. As luck would have it, German electronic supergroup, Moderat, were in town, so I met my friend for an evening of dancing. Exhilarated and exhausted, I melted into the bed (more giant with Mr Smith’s absence) for one last night.
In the days since, I’ve been reflecting on my stay. Local architects Richard and Spence have managed to successfully create an inner-city resort, with a quietly brutalist yet charming aesthetic. It’s a welcome change from the uninspired mediocrity that typifies inner-city hotels. Staff were warm, attentive, and intuitive, and while the experience extends beyond the walls of the hotel, I’d have happily remained confined to that room. I’m sure you’ll feel the same.