With summer just around the corner, we decided to get out and experience the best of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, turning the two destinations into one fantastic long weekend.
Even for interstate visitors, a Queensland getaway that allows you to see some of the best locations in the state’s South-East is easy with Airtrain, as it makes travelling between Brisbane and the Gold Coast a breeze.
Here are our top picks on where to stay, eat and play
Experience five-star splendour in the heart of the city, when you disembark the Airtrain at Central Station and take the escalator to Sofitel Brisbane. Elegant chandeliers and artisan sculptures imbue the hotel with decadent French sophistication, while the spacious rooms and suites offer panoramic views of the city skyline. Enjoy flavoursome international cuisine at Thyme Restaurant – be sure to sample the delectable desserts prepared in the hotel’s very own patisserie! In the evenings, immerse yourself in ambient Cuvée Lounge Bar with top-shelf tipple in hand, indulging in the soulful sounds of live jazz music.
If you’re looking to stay just a little further from the action, try Rydges Fortitude Valley. This boutique hotel has grass roots appeal, combining eclectic textures with contemporary industrial and agricultural accents. Enjoy a restful sleep in the signature, king-sized “Dream” beds, enveloped in luxurious linen with plush duck/down pillows. In Six Acres Restaurant savour hearty paddock-to-plate fare made from award-winning produce sourced largely from Queensland’s Scenic Rim. End the evening with a cheeky coconut mojito nightcap under the romantic, festoon-lit, 130-year-old fig tree towering over Paddock Bar’s alfresco terrace.
On the Gold Coast, check in to the sassy and chic QT Hotel Gold Coast. It’s downright quirky, providing a refreshing twist on the traditional hotel experience. Styled in pastel hues teamed with bright colours, neutrals and designer patterns, the interior alone offers much to pique your interest. The hotel has a relaxed beachy vibe and is awash with picture-perfect staff donning lifeguard and vintage pin-up girl outfits. Hotel rooms offer unique touches like complimentary flip flops and lemonade making sets, as well as a mini bar stocking intimacy kits and Sunnylife underwater cameras.
Innovative food tourism has certainly put South-East Queensland on the map for foodies. It’s geared towards gastronomic adventures that are as much about the food presentation and dining experience as the actual meal itself.
“Works of art” extend beyond just the exhibitions at Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art; food artistry and sensory intrigue being the trademarks of GOMA Restaurant. The delicious menu integrates native ingredients and has an indigenous feel. Try the succulent duck breast served on mushroom soil with roasted field mushrooms and quandong puree, finished off with autumn leaves and rosella dust. For dessert, order the mouth-watering wattle-seed custard. Inspired by the designs of Aboriginal artist, Rover Thomas, the custard is set into the plate then coated with Daintree chocolate spray paint, and finished off with dollops of broken-nosed vanilla bean curd. At first glance you may wonder where the custard is but it isn’t until you excavate the chocolate that you unearth the sweet surprise hiding beneath.
Titillate your mind with QT Gold Coast’s Hotel’s unique high tea, which turns tradition on its head, as what you’re eating is never quite what you thinkyou’re eating. Sweet treats are disguised as savoury delights, and vice versa. Imagine red tomato-flavoured macaron biscuits with green basil leaves, and jam and cream sponge cake that looks like ham and cheese sandwiches. Simply delicious!
The nosh at QT Gold Coast Hotel’s Bazaar Restaurant is out-of-this-world. Enter the marketplace-style eatery and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into Iron Chef’s kitchen, as big steaming woks laden with fresh veggies, noodles and meats are tossed to perfection. Offering a smorgasbord for the senses, you’ll weave your way past impeccable salads bursting with colour, a charcuterie and cheese mezze, a piping hot carvery, fresh seafood, international dishes, and superb sweets. Top-notch ingredients are cultivated in the hotel’s organic rooftop garden, and dishes aren’t labelled to encourage guests to engage with the talented chefs who are only too happy to discuss their labours of love.
Brisbane, one of Australia’s oldest cities, is built on a river, so an ideal way to take in the sights is from the river of course! Hire Riverlife’s kayaks or stand-up paddleboards, or for a Birdseye view, go abseiling instead. Later, take a stroll to South Bank for an X-Wing Segway tour. The cheery guides will put you completely at ease and have you up on two wheels exploring your surrounds in no time (Trust me, it’s easier than it looks).
From lush hinterland to glistening beaches, marvel at the Gold Coast in all its glory from 230 metres above sea level at SkyPoint Observation Deck. Situated at the top of the iconic Q1 skyscraper, the tallest residential building in the Southern Hemisphere when measured to the top of its spire, SkyPoint offers unparalleled 360 degree views of the Gold Coast skyline. Choose to do the SkyPoint Climb, which involves a 90-minute, awe-inspiring walk to the summit, or if you’re feeling amorous, cosy up with your sweetheart enjoying a drink at twilight, hypnotised by the phenomenal scenery.
Jumping out of a plane at height certainly isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, but why not give indoor skydiving a go? iFly Gold Coast offers an exhilarating freefall experience inside a purpose-built vertical glass flight chamber containing wind generators that propel you upwards inside a wind tunnel. You’ll be given pre-flight training, a jumpsuit and safety gear to wear, and an instructor will join you in the wind tunnel to help settle any nerves and guide you during your fun flight. Take home photos or a video of your session so you can impress your disbelieving friends back home.
Rejuvenate with a relaxing couples’ massage at SpaQ in the QT Hotel Gold Coast. Expert technique, hot towel wraps, and divine smelling Lu’lur coco cream moisturiser will leave you feeling blissful. Afterwards, chill out in the spa’s relaxation room sipping on a delicious T2 tea.
Mix it up with a fun martini-making class at QT Hotel. You’ll be supplied with ingredients, apparatus and the expert tuition to make two of the hotel’s signature concoctions. You’ll enjoy downing your tasty creations while snacking on the complimentary tortilla chips with heavenly guacamole, and sweet potato fries with black aioli.
Travel note: As a couple, purchase Airtrain’s ‘Duo fare’, which is priced at 28 dollars a day. When you arrive in Queensland catch the Airtrain from either Brisbane or Gold Coast airport, and enjoy unlimited hop on/hop off journeys at a myriad of stations that connect you with many wonderful holiday experiences in the beautiful Sunshine state.
The writer would like to thank Airtrain, QT Hotel Gold Coast, Rydges Fortitude Valley and Sofitel Brisbane for their hospitality.