I’VE never been accused of being a “shrinking violet”, but the term “socialite” has been levelled at me many times. So it’s fitting that I am sipping a buzzing cocktail of that very name this fine Friday evening, having shunned the far more retiring purple concoction on the drinks menu. I am at Brisbane’s New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites dating back to the 1920s, which is also quite perfect, as I’ve always fancied myself of that elegant era, squeezed between two World Wars, wearing a flapper dress and smoking long, slim cigarettes while surrounded by a bevy of male admirers. Yes, a girl’s got to dream and this is the perfect establishment in which to do so. In fact, had I been really clever, I would have ordered the good Doctor Thompson off the cocktail list instead, as this is what I feel is in order the next morning after a night of pure decadence.
Built during the 1920s, if the walls of The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites could talk, they would whisper some very salacious details indeed. For this heritage-listed hotel, up on Wickham Terrace, was once a medical centre. This tale actually dates back to the 1880s when immigrant Dr John Thomson chose the site to build his personal residence and named his home Inchcolm after Scotland’s Inchcolm Island, which was later replaced by the current building.
And the story becomes even more interesting, as the current owner and iconic Brisbane developer Peter Flynn was actually born in the building during its days as a medical practice. Flynn first had a vision to create a New York style boutique style hotel and in 1998 opened The Inchcolm Hotel. Now, following an $8 million refurbishment and restoration, The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites is the latest art deco darling on Brisbane’s social scene. And what a darling she is.
Guests who stay in the original building can expect their room to be unique, as few rooms are the same configuration due to its previous incarnation as a medical centre. There’s even the MacArthur Suite from where American General Douglas MacArthur’s personal physician worked while MacArthur was stationed in Brisbane during World War Two. Meanwhile, the new loft-style hotel suites capture all the charm of the era with art deco furnishings and fittings. About the only thing missing on this particular evening is a group of merry maids to assist me in dressing for my evening of indulgence.
I swan down to the sophisticated Socialites Bar and order a beer first up. In my defence, it had been a hot day and I really wanted to try the local Newstead Beer on tap and also in my room’s “maxi bar” which I am happy to report also stocks New Farm confectionary items. Modern day darlings of Brisbane’s social scene K1 and K2 arrive soon after, and order The Socialite – spiced rum, pear liqueur and ginger liqueur with fresh pear and crystalized ginger. This promptly sends this beer-drinking flapper well, into a bit of a flap (what the hell was I thinking drinking beer for God’s sake?), and I, too, order the same cocktail before our party of eight retires to the Foxtrot Room (next to the Charleston Room) for a private dinner. By this stage, I’m beginning to feel like I’m in a real life game of Cluedo….the travel writer, in the Foxtrot Room, with the butter knife.
Drawing on inspiration from the menu in the hotel’s Thomson’s Reserve Restaurant, our five-course degustation is a juicy journey in itself, which starts with an amusing Amuse Bouche and ends with white chocolate, fizzy honeycomb, orange curd, citrus & golden cherry meringue for dessert. In between there’s a host of delicate dishes including the Sous vide rolled Wagyu petite tenderloin with smoked gnocchi, carrot variations and nut butter. As fate would have it, the handsome waiter serving us looks incredibly familiar and I spend considerable time pondering this fact. Finally he reveals he once worked at Brisbane’s fine-dining steak restaurant Cha Cha Char where it turns out he was my waiter when I was once trapped on yet another disastrous internet date with a bloke who ordered a $100 steak in order to impress me with the size of his wallet. Yes, Brisbane is indeed small and salacious, just like this establishment.
Our meal comes to an end and I float back upstairs to my loft bedroom, memories of beef and blokes swimming around my mind. I fall into the kind of deep sleep I imagine a socialite of the 1920s era would and, while somewhat disappointed it’s actually 2015, I awake refreshed and ready to take on my contemporary city again. If art deco decadence is your kind of thing, escape to The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites, it could be just the medicine you need.
The Global Goddess was a guest of The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites – http://www.mgallery.com/TheNewInchcolmHotel