“Are you going down to the bar? Make sure you try out all the boys.” I’m in the lift of Brisbane’s newest hotel NEXT when, quite by random, I bump into the bar manager. My first reaction is one of surprise, followed frantically by the thought that my reputation as a man’s lady has preceded me. My brain takes a few moments to register what he’s just said. Cocktail. He said cockTAIL. He wants me to test his bar tenders’ cocktail-making skills. But it wouldn’t surprise me if this futuristic hotel could read my mind, as it’s the first in Australia to offer a range of hi-tech options that would make even George and Jane Jetson blush.
From check-in to check-out you’re in for a technological treat here. For starters there’s a free App, where guests can use their smart phones as mobile keys to check in and out of the hotel, unlock the room door, control the room temperature, lights and entertainment channel, even if you’re not in the room. Even better, you can order your poolside cocktails and room service before you even arrive, if that sort of thing takes your fancy. Another check-in/check-out alternative in the lobby are computers similar to those at the airport where you simply enter your details and, instead of a boarding pass, your room key is dispatched.
And don’t worry if you don’t possess a smart phone, as every room comes complete with a Samsung Galaxy S4 for free use throughout your stay, offering everything from free Wi-Fi, free local calls and, one of the most fabulous features, calls patched through to your borrowed phone when you are outside of the hotel. While the four free mini-bar items per day are also a strong selling point, one of my favourites exists on the Club Lounge – accessible to all guests – on Level 4. Here, there’s a specially designed InTransit Zone where you can crawl into Brisbane’s only Sleep Pods and catch a nap before your next engagement. (I may or may not have stumbled across a man snatching some shut eye while I was checking out the pods, but, on this occasion, decided to leave the poor bloke alone).
I’d love to say it’s not often I stay in a hotel room that’s smarter than me, but who am I kidding? Quite often I struggle with even the most basic technology, such as how to turn off all the room lights, and NEXT was not different. At this point, I should disclose that some of the new technology wasn’t fully functional when I checked in last Friday, and a few other hotel guests reported the same experience. But credit where credit is due. Like all new hotels anywhere in the world there are always teething problems, and once the technical glitches are ironed out, NEXT will be setting the standard for other establishments around the country.
And let’s not forget NEXT is actually the old Lennon’s Hotel, built by John Lennon (not the musician) in the 18th century. Back in the day, this Grand Dame featured a ladies’ drawing room and nine bathrooms for its 62 bedrooms. Guests over the years have included former US President Lyndon Johnson, US General Douglas MacArthur, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and The Beatles. It terms of position, it’s arguably the best in the CBD, fronting the iconic Queen Street on one side – which includes the new Forever 21 store, the first in Australia – and Burnett Lane on the other, the oldest laneway in the CBD.
Almost every Brisbane resident has an association with Lennons, whether it was for a wedding or school formal, and quite cleverly, the hotel has retained the name in its Lennons Restaurant and Bar which supersedes any hotel restaurant with upmarket dining and some of the classiest cocktails in town. Guests can also partake in a tipple on the Level 4 pool terrace, which comes complete with an impressive lap pool ideal for Brisbane’s warm weather, and comfy couches which allow some perfect people watching down on to the Queen Street Mall below.
NEXT is also within strolling distance of the Queen Victoria Bridge and some of Brisbane’s other latest experiences. Save room in your tummy for a tour with Foodi.com.au, one of the newest dining treats to enter the Brisbane culinary scene. Join Shane Jackson as he takes you on a delectable tour of new entrants such as Cowch – the city’s first and only dedicated dessert bar. From this Saturday, November 1 until February 15, the nearby Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) will stage a new exhibition – Future Beauty, 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. In December, the Queensland Art Gallery and GoMA will showcase the Japanese contemporary art it has collected over the past 25 years.
Brissie residents also love their beer and The Charming Squire, located at nearby Grey Street, is James Squire’s new brew bar which focuses on craft beers plus simple and delicious food, all served up in these eclectic new premises at South Bank. Back at NEXT Hotel, do make sure you partake in one of their colourful cocktails. While all the classics are on the list, live a little and try something like the strawberry with balsamic. If only the ladies in the old Lennons drawing room were still around to experience this. They’d be tittering over the cocktails too. Yes, I said cockTAILS.
The Global Goddess was a guest of NEXT Hotel – http://www.silverneedlehotels.com/next/brisbane and Brisbane Marketing – http://www.brisbanemarketing.com.au Throughout November, Brisbane will be launching its Global Flavours program, where city restaurants, such as the iconic ARIA, will showcase their international flavours – http://www.bnecity.com.au
MELBOURNE. Too cold in winter, too hot in summer. Right? Wrong. Don’t be fooled – despite its reputation for having Goldilocks weather I present to you 4 seasons (in one day) and 5 great reasons to visit the Victorian capital, any time of the year.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Fraser Place Melbourne http://melbourne.frasershospitality.com and the Jasper Hotel Melbourne http://www.jasperhotel.com.au
JUST when we thought Australian politics couldn’t become any more bizarre, Prime Minister Tony Abbott proved us all wrong this week, when he threatened to “shirt-front” Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Brisbane next month. Being a Queenslander, I have to confess I had no idea what this shirt-fronting business was all about, and for several hours I thought there might be some kind of bro-mance going on between Tony and Vlad. For those who don’t know what this quaint turn of phrase means, it is apparently an AFL term to describe a front-on charge designed to knock an opponent to the ground. Frankly, since learning this, I haven’t stopped laughing all week.
Apparently the Ruskis think it’s pretty funny as well, with Russian embassy official Alexander Odoevskiy telling Fairfax Media that he had “learned a little more about Aussie Rules football”. Odoevskiy went on to say “We are not sure when the Prime Minister would like to shirt-front the Russian President.” So, in the spirit of this great city in which I live, I’d like to offer up 10 Perfect Places to shirt-front a Russian President in Brisbane. (Hey, you never know when it may come in handy).
1.Head to the Cauldron
Ok, so we’re more into rugby league than AFL in Brissie, but don’t worry, we still know how to go the biff. Of all the places in the Queensland capital which has seen its share of fights, it’s got to be Suncorp Stadium or “The Cauldron” to locals. What many people don’t know is this hallowed turf was once a cemetery (I’m just sayin’ Tony). If the thought of Tony (a keen cyclist), beating up Vlad (a judo expert) makes you thirsty, head to the nearby Caxton Hotel, which has also seen plenty of bust ups over the years, particularly during State of Origin. Locals call this hotel “the Cacko” and after you’ve seen Tony take on Vlad, you’ll be laughing too. http://www.suncorpstadium.com.au; http://www.caxton.com.au
2.Make Love, Not War
I like to think of Brisbanites as lovers, not fighters. But we do have a secret war history. Few people realise that General MacArthur based the Allies’ southern pacific headquarters right here in Brisbane during World War Two. Today, the MacArthur Central shopping centre stands in the same building. For more of a war tour head to the MacArthur Museum and see the impact the events in Europe and the Pacific had on Brisbane. Entry fee costs $5 for adults. Tony, I’m happy to pay your entry fee, if you promise to stop picking on the nuclear giants. http://www.mmb.org.au
3.Got a Beef with the Russian President?
God, how we love a good steak in Brisbane. In honour of his bullish behaviour, I’d recommend Tony take Vlad straight to the Spanish Garden Steakhouse at the Breakfast Creek Hotel. It’s on the way from the airport, so it’s real handy, and the beef is good too. Still dancing around the issue, Tony? Then head to Cha Cha Char! for some of the best wagu in town. Given I’m dining out on the worst Prime Minister in Australian history, I may as well recommend the “Worst Vegetarian Restaurant” as well. Yes, the Norman Hotel makes this cute claim. Step away from the steak knives, Tony.
http://www.breakfastcreekhotel.com; http://www.chachachar.com.au; http://www.normanhotel.com.au
4.Bridge That Golf
What blokes in the history of the world haven’t patched things up over a game of golf? But let’s keep this one simple. Rather than going to some fancy, smanchy course, I recommend the Victoria Park Golf Complex for Tony and Vlad. This course offers some of the most challenging putt putt on its 18 hole course with Brisbane skyline view. Best of all, Tony, it comes complete with sand and water traps, a rocky terrain, swinging poles and even punching bags. http://www.victoriaparkgolfcomplex.com/golf/puttputt.html
5.The Smoking Gun
This one was a no-brainer really. Tony, you might want to bulk up before all that shirt-fronting, so I recommend you head to The Gunshop Café at West End. Mate, you’ll love it but don’t get too excited. Yes, this was a former gunship where they sold firearms, but the only smokin’ thing these days is the food on the menu. Has anyone told Vlad lately he’s got nice guns?
This former World War Two bomb shelter is now a cigar bar in South Brisbane. Just think, Tony, no one will hear the screams. Yes, behind this mysterious red façade you’ll find some of Brisbane’s best coffee as well as a couple of Cubans. I mean cigars, not actual Castros. Although Fidel would fit in well with this whole shirt-fronting scenario, I reckon. A quick Google search reveals Putin does not smoke (nor drink, apparently), so the upstairs smoking deck may be lost on him.
I reckon a day at the bay down at Redcliffe should sort everything out between this pair. Tony, what I suggest is you take Vlad for a lovely stroll along Bee Gees Way, which pays homage to these local lads who set the world on fire. Still feel like Jive Talkin’, then take a wander along the Redcliffe Jetty. Testosterone Tony, how about you get your James Bond on and strap yourself in for a tandem skydive over Suttons Beach? (Vlad, I recommend you pack a separate parachute). http://www.redcliffe.net.au/visitor-information.htm
8.Cuddle A Koala
Who can stay angry when you’re cuddling a koala? And Lone Pine Sanctuary has 130 of these furry little beasts with names like Rory, Sinnamon, Lina, Rose and Beck. But, best of all, there’s a platypus named Barak – who most tourists call Barack. Yes, as, in Obama. Now, if anyone can sort out this shirt-fronting mess, it’s Obama. http://www.koala.net
9.In Pursuit Of Libertine
This suggestion might be a bit girly, but Tony and Vlad can create their very own love potion at Libertine Parfumerie at New Farm. This place offers masterclasses in the art of fragrance and features a huge range of products.In fact a number of their scents have been worn by world leaders including Winston Churchill and Napoleon. Their fragrance Creed is 250 years old and is worn by the Obamas. Another fragrance, Love In White, has been worn by 3 or 4 US First Ladies. Let’s call this new fragrance the dirty shirt-front.
10.Get A New Shirt-Front
In case we are all wrong, and all Tony really wanted to do was actually buy Vlad a new shirt, there’s a few interesting options in Brisbane. At Mitchell Ogilvie – which has a secret bar in the store – it’s rumoured that $30,000 suits are currently walking out the door in the lead up to G20. The boys could also head to the The Cloakroom, which offers a modern tailoring service. But Tony, you can do your own ironing. I don’t care what you say about how “the women of Australia” like to spend their time.
THE bloke perched in the exit row in front of me has reclined his seat and his head is resting in my lap. The woman behind me has her knees nestled snugly in my kidneys and the child beside her is screaming bloody murder. Every time I attempt to nod off to block out the horror of this particular flight, the stewardess pauses right beside my ear, and in a shrill, sing-songy voice says, “you’re a cheeky monkey”. At this point in the journey I’m unclear whether she’s talking to the fella in front of me, the screamer behind, or indeed me for allowing this perverse and peculiar scenario to unfold. All I know is that the distinct lack of alcohol on board is not helping things. Not one bit.
I’m travelling from Brisbane to Melbourne with a suitcase stuffed with every item of black and wintery gear I own in my wardrobe, clutching on to every cliché I’ve ever heard about it being grey and cold down there. But it seems the Victorian capital has other ideas. Just like the man on the plane, Melbourne decides to seduce me with a hot flush of warm, sunny weather, colourful graffitied lane ways I’d only ever read about, and pop-up bars brimming with hot blokes and cold beer.
I’m in the Victorian capital to cover another story for my good friends at Traveltherenext – http://www.traveltherenext.com – and have decided to stay on for an extra night to check out the newly refurbished Jasper Hotel. I love a good hotel and even better if it has a salacious story and this, my friends, boasts both. Recently reopened after a $7 million facelift this hotel, which sits near the top of Elizabeth Street, was originally built in the mid 1970s as a women’s shelter and refuge. In the 1980s it became a YWCA with a women’s only gym, ballet and dance studio and by the 1990s and under the name of the Hotel Y, it became a three-star backpacker hotel. It wasn’t until early 2000 that it became the Jasper Hotel named after the local Jasper stone from which it is built.
It’s little wonder given her hectic history that the Jasper Hotel needed a bit of tarting up. And how. One of the most interesting features of this 90-room, eight-floor grand dame is on Level 2 where the old basketball court in the centre has been transformed into 16 suites and a central courtyard complete with synthetic grass. The suite in which I spend the evening is said to be part of the former dance studio. Hotel guests will appreciate the all-Australian APPELLES bathroom products, free WIFI and pool/gym access at the Melbourne City Baths, which first opened in 1860.
While I’d love to report that due to her colourful health-orientated history and access to fitness facilities that I actually did some exercise while staying here, the opposite would actually be true. You see the hotel also offers 24 hour room service, as well as a lovely restaurant and bar, and it would be more fair to report that I actually enjoyed the Australian/Asian fusion food – which pays homage to its Malaysian owners – and a couple of cheeky Aussie wines, instead.
Apart from its evocative fable, one of the most endearing aspects of the Jasper Hotel is its location. You’re about 30 footsteps from the Queen Victoria Market, where some of the best entertainment in town can be had by simply standing and observing the stall holders peddling their produce. Take about thirty steps in the other direction from the front door and you’ll find arguably the best Turkish gozleme in Melbourne at the unassuming Borek Bakehouse along Elizabeth Street.
Fully sated, I head for the airport and home. The flight isn’t full, so I swap seats from the middle to the very last row where at least I’m assured of no kidney kickers and, hopefully, no screamers. Shortly after I settle in, a big bloke appears from nowhere and slips into the seat in front of me and falls asleep. But I’m winning, as he’s laying lengthwise and there’s no lap dance today. And best of all, there’s wine on this flight, and they’re handing it out for free.
The Global Goddess was a guest of the four-star boutique Jasper Hotel Melbourne. To celebrate its launch, the hotel is offering an overnight rate of $139 a night until January 11, 2015 (subject to availability). http://www.jasperhotel.com.au
I’m taking a little break from blogging today to celebrate my nomination in two categories for the Bupa blogging awards. The Global Goddess is up for the Travel Adventures and Social Good categories. Finalists will be announced mid October and winnners in mid November. I wish to thank you all for reading, supporting and following me. With love and light, The Global Goddess xx.