Be a Tourist in Your Home Town: Brisbane

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One of the most fun things you can do is be a tourist in your home town. This is especially great, if you need to getaway but have very limited time! It’s no secret that I love to travel overseas. Not only is it obvious in my chosen profession, but it is a personal passion that has been with me since I was 20 years old and took my first international flight. However that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate Australia and all it has to offer, and more and more I am creating tours here, and travelling at home for personal enjoyment.

So the first instalment in this series is all about Brisbane as this is my adopted Aussie home town and one that I love. So read on and see what we have to offer, and either take a tour from your a local suburb or come visit – you won’t be disappointed!

There are multiple options for good accommodation in Brisbane, but these are a few of my favourite spots. A mix of boutique, luxury brands and great locations.

Emporium Hotel

  • Emporium Hotel: Incredibly stylish and sexy, this boutique hotel offers good size rooms and the location is unbeatable, being in the Valley, one of the city’s best precincts for dining, shopping, clubs and bars. A roof top pool finishes this offering off very nicely, particularly when staying in the summer. It is 5-star with rates to match but you expect that and it is worth the money.
  • Sofitel: City centric, 5-star luxury that you would expect from Sofitel. Just enough out of the thick of things, but only a 5 minute walk max down to the main shopping area . The rooms are luxurious and tastefully decorated, and the views of the city and surrounds are spectacular. Great dining options plus that all important spa should you choose to stay in and do nothing.
  • The Treasury Hotel & Casino: If a little old world style and a heritage listed building is more your style, then this is your hotel. A beautifully maintained 18th century building that was originally the city’s treasury, it oozes charm and culture. Situated on the edge of the cbd you will enjoy spacious rooms, city access within 2 minutes and for those who enjoy a flutter this could be the very spot. It also offers easy access to the river, botanic gardens and Southbank. There are a multitude of restaurants and bars to choose from in house or just wander down to the river for some of the city’s best dining.
  • Gambaro Hotel: West of the city is Paddington, a beautiful inner-city suburb choc full of restaurants, bars and shopping – plus this little gem. Great service, fab restaurant, boutique rooms that have all the touches, plus this is a family owned establishment has hands on management who do add to the welcome. Note can be noisy in some rooms on the weekend due to late night revellers….

Eat & Drink.
A girl needs to eat and drink to keep her strength up for shopping and spa purposes, and of course to cap off a great day. Again the selection of restaurants & bars in Brisbane is growing by the hour, so here are a few that always make me smile and consistently deliver.

Mr and Mrs G’s

  • Mr and Mrs G’s: If it’s the best view in town, relaxed and extremely stylish decor and ambience that you want, then this is the place to be. The drinks are sublime, the service is great and fab hands on management by Andy Georges and his team make this place a delight to spend a few hours re-energising over a crisp chardonnay and some tapas style fare. Alternatively it is a wonderful way to enjoy a pre-dinner aperitivo before heading to your restaurant of choice!
  • Il Centro: Just across the way from Mr and Mrs G’s (and owned by the same family) is Il Centro. If you are looking for a creative menu, consistently good food and their famous sand crab lasagna, then look no further. The service is some of the best around. I have been frequenting this restaurant for years, and have never been disappointed. How many restaurants can you say that about?
  • Cru Bar: In the Valley where bars come and go, this is a stayer situated in the James Street precinct. This is the place to be seen, a great bar to revive in after dropping some cash in the many irresistible stores in James Street, or just to sit and chat away the afternoon watching the comings and goings of those who need to be seen and those who want to be seen. People watching is a must!
  • Gerards Restaurant: I have recently discovered this exceptional restaurant (it has been around for a while but I do take my time to find things). Also situated in the James Street Precinct I would have to say this is the best food in town at the moment (from my point-of-view). The menu is a great fusion of Middle Eastern, Moroccan and European flavours all tied up with exceptional produce. The wine list is pretty good however the service can be a bit hit and miss – but the food is so good that I cannot hold this against them!
  • Southbank Precinct: There are so many restaurants in this area that you will always find something you like. Perennial favourite the Stokehouse, which also has good views of the river and the city plus a lovely bar, is worth a visit. Down on the riverfront you will also find The Jetty and Aquitane to name a couple of others on offer. There is every cuisine you can think of to be found including Indian, Spanish, Vietnamese and Greek to name a few so head on over if you don’t know what you feel like and see what you can discover!
  • Canvas Cocktail & Wine Bar: Situated in the ever evolving Logan Road, Gabba precinct is this little gem. Relaxed, hip and serving great cocktails and wine, this is a wonderful place to sit, chat and enjoy a little tapas and a few drinks. Surrounded by excellent eating establishments such as Enoteca (sublime Italian) and the Cross Town Eating House (great food, great price), you will have all of your culinary needs met in one easy stroll!

Since I first moved to Brisbane in 1997, it has grown up so much. All of the labels have discovered the ‘Vegas so you can find anything from Chanel, Hermes, Gucci and Burberry to the faves such as Witchery, Country Road, DJ’s and Myer to name a few. It is better to shop by precinct or Westfield as this is how everything seems to work. So a few below that are easily accessible and one that has just been refurbished and should be visited if you have the time (it will cost a taxi ride if you don’t have a car).

  • James Street Precinct: There is a fab collection of independent stores such as Calexico, St Barts, Aje, Samantha Ogilvie and Gail Soronda offering everything from high end fashion to amazing lifestyle delights. These happily co-exist with the usual suspects such as Witchery, Camilla and Zimmerman to name just a few. You can spend a whole day here easily depending on what you are looking for and there is something to suit every budget. If you venture out further, and head up Ann Street you will find stores such as Akira and Universal just to mix it up a little more!
  • Brisbane City: From the Myer Centre, Queens Plaza, Edward Street and Brisbane Mall you have everything your heart desires. Choose from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Mont Blanc to David Jones, Myer and a combination of brands and independent stores that will cover your every shopping need, so you won’t go wanting in the retail therapy department. Too many to go into independently – just pop on the ballet flats and go hunting. There are also plenty of establishments throughout for that much needed coffee hit and energy boost and a spa or two when you have had enough!
  • Paddington Precinct: Just a few k’s out of the city this is a delightful area choc full of cafes, shops and restaurants. These are mostly independent retailers, and a good blend of fashion, furniture and lifestyle stores. Ones to look out for are Sascha Drake (she makes the most incredible dresses that are brilliant for travelling), Living Silk, Lorna Jane, Miss Henry and Olive (an old favourite). There is also Green Tangerine, the Antiques Centre for those who like to potter through vintage options and so much more. This is just a taste of what’s on offer and LaTrobe Terrace is the place to be. Enjoy!
  • Indooroopilly Shoppingtown: This massive Westfield has just had a major makeover and offers a fantastic blend of well known brands plus some not on offer anywhere else in Brisbane. This is where our first Morris store is, and again every conceivable brand is in close proximity e.g. Scanlan & Theodore, Country Road, Carla Zampatti, Laura Ashley etc. There are an enormous number of wonderful places to enjoy lunch and a wine, or just a coffee, and this is a good option if you feel like going a little further out of the city. It is a train, bus or taxi ride but for a visit, but for a Westfield this is tastefully done and should satiate that retail need.

There is so much on offer in Brisbane, a constantly evolving city. Of course, this will give you ideas but as with all destinations it is often the things you find yourself that are the best, so explore and discover – you never know what you might stumble across! Talk again soon and have a great weekend.

Chief Diva Andrea xx

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