By Matthew Brace
Sumptuous beds, roaring fires, delicious food, super-friendly hotel team, cool pool and views of the harbour and the mountains – there’s a lot to love about the Vibe Hotel Hobart.
The hotel is perfectly located, a short walk to cafes, bars, museums, the famous Salamanca Markets and the glistening harbour.
As we were checking in we looked up to see an artwork comprising curved, brass-effect pieces illuminated by light cylinders. The work was created by the hotel’s owner Annalisa Doedens and it reminded us vaguely of the curtains of light created by the Aurora Australis (or Southern Lights), reconfirming where we were, in Australia’s most southerly capital city and a gateway to Antarctica.
Before heading to our room we were served welcome gin and tonics in front of the roaring lobby fireplace, with local Lawrenny Van Diemen’s gin.
These local accents help turn a chain hotel property into something more individual, a place that reflects its environment rather than merely its brand. The lobby restaurant, Belvedere, added more Tassie influence with a menu featuring plenty of locally sourced food and wine.
Look and feel
The owners and developers have incorporated elements of Tasmania into almost every part of the hotel, so you feel the island’s unique flora, fauna and history everywhere you go.
The sea and sandstone cliffs of Bruny Island inspired the colours and materials for many rooms and carpets, while the pool’s dark stone is a take on the dolerite rock of the columned cliff on Mt Wellington just outside Hobart called the Organ Pipes.
All furniture in the rooms and ground floor was sourced from Australia and only Australian timbers were used in the solid timber items. In the lobby, hanging next to the Southern Lights installation, was a 7.5m-wide chain curtain cleverly illustrated with a copy of a 1930s photograph of people seated in the Art Deco Belvedere Ballroom that once stood here, waiting to dance.
Perhaps the most Tasmanian element in the hotel is a column of bricks on one side of the fireplace. While investigating the history of the previous building on this site, the developers discovered these bricks and found that they were handmade by convicts. Some still carry the thumbprints of those who made them… a thrilling, tangible link with Hobart’s past.
Best room for two
We stayed for the first few nights in a Harbour View King Room (26 sqm). We loved the little L’OR espresso coffee machine and spent hours at the window, gazing out over Hobart to the water. It’s worth requesting a room on as high a floor as you can to maximise the view, especially if you’re in town to see the Sydney-to-Hobart race yachts cruise in.
We also loved the look and feel of the bedside table and the desk. They were made from Tasmanian oak, as were the coffee table and bedhead. This is standard for all rooms.
On our return to the hotel after some thrilling days kayaking around the Freycinet Peninsula, we upgraded to a super-posh, one-bedroom Belvedere King Apartment. It was on the top (14th) floor, gave us 46 sqm and had a spectacular view over west Hobart to the hills beyond. More importantly for us, it had a washing machine to soak our dirty kayaking gear, a fridge to store the lobster and oysters we had bought en route and its very own fireplace, which warmed us up after our outdoor adventures.
Food and drink
With some difficulty we shunned Hobart’s plethora of amazing restaurants and bistros and chose to dine at the hotel’s restaurant Belvedere, named after the famous ballroom. We were not disappointed. We are noticing how the standard of hotel restaurants is on the rise once more and the Belvedere is a good example.
We were served by a young guy originally from Colorado in the United States who was not just personable but also had an excellent knowledge of Tasmanian produce. He explained where the restaurant’s suppliers were and it was good to know so many were local, limiting the distance food has to travel.
We ate delicious turmeric-cured cauliflower with organic hemp seed from near Marion Bay, chicken from the lush pastures of Meander Valley near Launceston and burgers using beef from Cape Grim in the state’s far north west, the place CSIRO says has the cleanest air in the world.
To cap off a very Tasmanian dining experience we sipped glasses of Josef Chromy ‘Pepik’ Chardonnay from just south of Launceston and Craigie Knowe ‘White Label’ Cabernet Merlot from near Swansea on the east coast.
Next morning, the Chilli Crab Scrambled Eggs (with local spanner crab and lemongrass XO sauce) made the perfect breakfast to wake us up and fuel us for a hike through wonderful Hobart.
Couples will love
Coming back from a blustery Hobart walk into the warm, welcoming arms of the lobby, taking a swim in the heated pool, sipping hot chocolate or cocktails in front of a roaring log fire with the promise of a hearty meal.
Book via the Vibe website https://vibehotels.com/book-accommodation/hobart/hotel-hobart/, call 13 86 42 (in Australia), 0800 101 100 (from New Zealand) and 61 (0) 2 9356 5062 (outside Australia and New Zealand) or email email@example.com