If you’re weary of your Friday check-in, stay local and stroll 50m from the hotel’s front entrance to the Nant Whisky Cellar and Bar, a specialist whisky bar owned by the Tasmanian distillery of the same name and perfect for a crisp winter evening. The in-house Scottish whisky aficionado, Ryan Macleod, guides novices through the complexities of flavour and helps old hands discover new and interesting brands. He introduced me to a Ledaig from the Isle of Mull, for which I am still grateful.
An alternative is Room 60 in the Kelvin Grove education complex. It’s hard to find but it’s possibly the cutest bar in town. Very low-key, very relaxed, very cool.
Head to Given Terrace in Paddington and a charming little bistro called Anouk, which does a range of delicious brunch dishes and terrific coffee. The whiting with grilled asparagus and the spanner crab omelette are both superb, as are the egg dishes and bruschetta. Or, in Fortitude Valley, Cirque (Brunswick Street) is cramped but worth it, especially for the sweet corn cakes.
For shopping, Paddington is full of small vintage and antique shops along Latrobe Terrace, while down in Fortitude Valley (Ann and Brunswick Streets), the shops are edgier. For culture, the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) are both at South Bank; the former hosts more classical works while the latter shows more modernist and avant-garde exhibitions. If you missed brunch, the riverside GOMA Café bistro is a good spot for what it calls “lazy weekend grazing” (food until 3PM) and the upper-level GOMA Lounge Bar is just right for an afternoon beer or glass of wine (drinks until 4:45PM).
Saturday Evening: Head to one of the CBD’s laneway bars for an early evening drink; one tried and tested option is Super Whatnot on Burnett Lane between Adelaide Street and Queen Street Mall. And so, to supper (see Eats in FACT FILE).
Stay local and have patisseries and coffee at La Belle Époque next to the hotel lobby or head back into the CBD and stroll along the river to the Botanic Gardens, which are perfect for a lazy Sunday. You can also head down to New Farm to the Powerhouse, where you’ll find bistros, exhibitions and live events.