"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." Henry Miller
When I looked out the window of our spacious suite onto the winding Brisbane River (a river which I've driven past, sailed upon and dined beside a thousand times before) I noticed that it looked distinctly different, almost unfamiliar. Such is the pleasure of staying away from home in your own city – a new vantage point, an untouched suburb and a luxurious hotel room make you feel as if you're in an entirely new place altogether, just ripe for exploring.
We were staying in the newly-relaunched Brisbane Riverview Hotel – a mid-rise luxury hotel located in Hamilton, just a stone's throw from the buzzing Portside development and Newstead/Fortitude Valley precinct. Returning guests will immediately notice the comprehensive facelift – dated finishes have disappeared behind a lick of new paint, contemporary wallpapers and elegant furniture, thoughtfully selected to modernise the interiors without losing sight of the hotel's heritage-style core.
Unlike many of the large hotel chains, Brisbane's Riverview is in no way a cookie-cutter product – it feels intimate and homely, lacking the mass-produced, often clinical appearance of its larger counterparts. Staff were warm and attentive, complimentary beverages were awaiting us in our room upon arrival and drinks followed by dinner at the on-site Plates restaurant had been booked – a pretty fabulous way to kick off a romantic weekend.
We stayed in one of the River Spa Suites located on level six, large windows welcoming in views of the Brisbane River. A fresh and fun pale blue and ivory striped wallpaper teamed with deeply-hued wooden furniture and classical decor adorned the bedroom/lounge zone, whilst the enormous bathroom (which also enjoyed incredible river views) was decorated in punchy black and white with classic American-style chrome fixtures – those monochrome hexagonal floor tiles have been added to my 'dream bathroom' file. The deliciously soft king size bed, block-out curtains and surprising quietness (Kingsford Smith Drive is generally busy) made sleeping a dream; dragging ourselves out of that heavenly bed each morning was only made possible by the fact there was a delicious buffet breakfast waiting for us downstairs.
The food we enjoyed at the Riverview was exceptional – our first night, seated in an intimate corner of the restaurant sipping on a glass of Champagne, I enjoyed the chicken breast with granny smith salsa verde on a quinoa salad, whilst my partner raved about his Darling Downs eye fillet with chorizo rosti, sautéed cabbage and mushroom sauce. The reasonably-priced menu (mains range from $24 – $34) is also available in-room, an indulgence we took advantage of on our second night. The breakfast buffet was five star; everything from pastries, cereals and fruit platters to the entire bacon and egg shebang are on offer, with a side of friendly service. The hotel's intimate Chester's Bar is also a great spot to grab a drink or two before dinner. Although quite compact, separate zones have been created using plush sofas and side tables, plus we simply loved the 'bookshelf' wallpaper – it made us feel as if we were cozied up in a manor library worlds away.
During our stay we wandered up to Hamilton's Portside development for lunch and a movie (about a 20-minute stroll), headed out to the iconic Breakfast Creek Hotel (literally a five-minute wander) and took a short trip into the CBD for some pamper time at Stephanie's Spa. Riverview was in an ideal location – close enough to the action, but just far enough to bypass the city rush. Along with those tranquil river views, beautifully appointed rooms and impressive cuisine, Riverview offers the perfect couples weekend away for exploring, indulging and reconnecting.