Brisbane Weekend

By on 02-04-2012 in Architecture, Inspired By, Interior Design, Obsessed With, Shop There, Taste This, Went Here

Another weekend away, again one that was mostly spent working, but as always a few snatched moments to eat some great food and soak up the local atmosphere! Brisbane is foreign to me, Sydney is my home, Melbourne I get, and Brisbane I am still trying to work out, I think there is an element of trying to ‘uncover’ its secrets like you need to in Sydney or Melbourne, yet with Brisbane, what you see appears to be what you get.  The people are great, laid back, relaxed and there is a distinct young & fun vibe, and the James St area in Fortitude Valley where we spent all our time this trip is a joy, with good food, good shops, great locals and an amazing atmosphere, although, at times it was slightly intimidatingly trendy!

Shopping on James St – Sass & Bide, image: Habitus Living

We stayed at the Limes Hotel, a boutique design hotel about a ten minute walk up a hill from James St.  I spent very little time in the hotel, arriving only around 10pm on Saturday night and leaving at 7am Sunday morning, meaning I didn’t get to appreciate all that it offered, and when I say that I am mostly referring to the rooftop bar on top, which judging by the noise and the queue at the bottom of the lift on Saturday night is an experience.  My partner who had been working in Brissie the whole week reports that the bar is cool, with a decent bar menu, good cocktails, and on the Friday night wasn’t so busy, so they enjoyed sitting at a table with a drink, some food and a roundup of the days work.  He also assures me that the hotel staff were fantastic, always following through on promises and giving good recommendations for food, even going as far as calling the restaurant they were headed to ahead of arrival without it being requested, simply to let the restaurant know they were coming.  The hotel itself was nice enough, the rooms were very small, however they were fitted out nicely and had enough designer touches to satisfy its boutique listing.

The Limes Hotel exterior, & an interior shot, which is an accurate photo showing the fit out and size.  Images: Limes Hotel

There was a few issues, though, both were handled well by the staff, there is an enormous construction site that backs on to the hotel, which meant that everyone was woken at 6:30 am when work commenced, on the Saturday though, the hotel manager called the foreman to ensure there would be no work on the Sunday morning, then they organised a room change on Monday when a room at the front of the hotel became available, I believe this will be an ongoing issue for the hotel for at least the next 8 months.  The second was the night club issue, it was an odd experience to walk into your hotel and feel like you were walking into a night club, a host out the front checking ID’s, a bouncer by the lift and in the lift and a long queue.  Being absolutely exhausted, hauling my suitcase and wearing dusty gym gear I was given odd looks by the party dress wearing crowd that were in the lobby waiting for entry to the club.  Just as I wondered out loud whether we had to wait in a line to go to our room, the host bounced over and escorted us to the front to ensure we could go up right away, although there was something a little offputting about feeling like you needed to flash your ID and stand in a line to gain access to your hotel room, it definitely is not suited to people who are not there to party on a Saturday night, I imagine every other day though, it is lovely and I would happily stay there again.

Photos from the rooftop bar – all guests of the hotel are guaranteed entry. Images: Limes Hotel

Since this is a design blog, I will take a moment to point out some of the unique design aspects, aside from the furniture selections which included derlot’s “lerod” barstool and lounger with NZ black sheep skin, “bolet” lights, balcony “stump” stool, in the rooms, with a glowing reception desk which matched the rooftops bar seating & bar, it is the well executed and thought out layout that is outstanding.  Whilst the rooms were small, the space was efficient, with a long galley kitchenette running the length of the hallway as you entered the room, it extended out beyond the wall to create a dining area.  The bathroom was also very compact but functional, the custom designed kitchen bench and bathroom vanity’s are well suited to their purpose, solving spatial issues and providing a clean & crisp style that is durable, the choice of corian for these certainly fits the bill. The Limes seems to meet the needs of solo travelers in particular, with small but functional rooms, friendly staff and the rooftop bar providing a space to have a drink and a meal on your own, without feeling like you have been relegated to the hotels’ daggy & overpriced restaurant, I believe this was the intention of the designer & frequent traveller Alexander Lotersztain.

And of course going beyond the hotel, all our time was spent on James st, the strip of shops that is roughly 200m long, and the surrounding side streets that is a pretty little collection of ‘the’ places to shop, eat, drink and be seen.  I say pretty, as the street itself, through the main precinct is tree lined with gorgeous white boutiques and restaurants lining the sides, it unfolds on both sides behind the front row, with ‘centres’ behind, where cars park and people browse the shops.  It is actually a rather unusual mix of fashion and homewares, the surrounding streets is where you will find commercial furniture companies, suppliers and designers offices and architects firms, which explains why you will spot many design types sipping a wine at Harvey’s or browsing the racks in Sass & Bide.  In amongst it are the least expected signs of the rapid development of the area, a car service garage backing on to Sass & Bide shop, makes you think its either the fanciest car service place going round, or it had simply existed at this location long before the trendies moved in.

We had breakfast at Harvey’s Sunday morning, the breezy, spacious restaurant right in the middle of it all, which draws a huge brunch crowd.  The spiced mince in a flour tortilla with a poached egg & avacado is meant to be a top tip, I will have to order it next time, as given the early hour we were eating I opted for the fruit salad.  Its a lovely spot though, peaceful and quiet and that feeling of being on holiday, even though you’re working.

Harveys recently underwent renovations by CMF projects, images: CMF Projects

For lunch we picked up a sandwich from French Patisseries ‘French Twist‘, located inside the James St Market, this seemed a popular option when paired with a fresh juice from Quench, we stopped in at Jocelyn’s Provisions for a cupcake after also.

James St market, and Cru bar.  Image: Habitus Living

Next time we’re there I look forward to heading back to Bar Alto at the Brisbane Powerhouse, and the Gunshop Cafe, places we went a few trips ago and had great food.