“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