Rare luxury where old meets new with style
STEPPING into the Brisbane Riverview Hotel at Hamilton is like being greeted by a favourite, dapper grandfather - albeit one who boasts impeccable taste in contemporary art.
Sprightly, with a twinkle in his eye and a penchant for silk waist costs, he is the sort of chap who smokes cigars, collects curios and still knows how to throw fabulous parties.
If you are looking for something hyper-modern, ensconced in soulless, sterile white, then this is not remotely for you.
Green marble in the foyer is given warmth with dark wooden panelling, gold accents and gorgeously-patterned wallpaper and rugs.
The effect is sumptuous, welcoming and charming.
A $6 million renovation of the hotel in 2014 saw interior stylist Wendy Lynch play up the existing, old-world charm of the hotel and bring a strong sense of "quirkiness", found in unique fabric patterns and antique collections.
But, one of the true joys of the hotel hangs on its walls.
Scattered liberally throughout the hotel is an eclectic collection of art, curated by The Suzanne Geiss Company in New York.
Jessica Craig-Martin's photographs of decadent socialites, Melbourne artist Riley Payne's sketches overlayed with glib statements and New York- based photographer Alistair Matthew's fantastical, surreal, pop- culture inspired works are well worth checking out.
The sense of quirky luxury is continued in the guest rooms.
Beautiful wallpaper, antique- styled furnishings and a seriously comfy bed make it a great home- away-from-home experience.
As all good hotels seem to have these days, a pillow menu is available for the discerning guest.
However, the true star of the room was the view.
Looking right out on to the Brisbane River, I felt I could sit and watch the boats moored along the water for hours - although watching them roll with the wake created by the city cats made me feel a twinge of sympathetic seasickness.
Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a stiff drink!
And Chesters Bar, located on the ground floor of the hotel, is a gem.
Originally a cigar bar, here the quirk is taken up a notch, and boy is it fun.
Undeniably masculine in feel, with its dark wood panelling, chesterfield sofas, brass and collection of vintage trophies from the 1920s and 50s, I still felt very much at home sipping on a whisky.
The collection of curios scattered around the bar included 1920s porcelain doll heads, vintage post cards and beautifully-delicate candles from Belgium company, Slowlight.
Speaking of furniture, duty manager Cameron Blackmore will be celebrating 22 years with the hotel in October.
Working his way up from the ground floor, so to speak, Cameron said the variety of guests the hotel attracted had kept the job interesting and rewarding.
There certainly is a real mix of guests while I'm there - expats recognising a familiar accent in a fellow guest and striking up a conversation, people obviously there for business, and some staying as a stopover before they embark on a cruise from the nearby Brisbane Cruise Terminal.
When it comes time to choose what to have for dinner, you are absolutely spoilt for choice.
The in-house choice, Plates Restaurant, boasts a modern Australian menu which is changed seasonally, and an impressive wine list.
However, my partner and I could not resist the lure of the legendary Eat Street, just five minutes' drive away.
A sparkling gem on the Hamilton Wharf, Eat Street is an absolute must-do.
And, you must go hungry.
Inspired by Asian markets, Eat Street features shipping containers converted into sellers of deliciousness.
The markets run every Friday and Saturday from 4-10pm and every Sunday from 10am-3pm.
At least three laps through the bustling crowds later, I had created a short list of at least 10 dishes I want to try, and was really struggling to narrow it down.
I managed to stuff my face with fresh oysters, pork buns and salted caramel and banana crepes, while simultaneously sampling the various delicacies purchased by friends we met up with.
After a fabulous sleep in the super-comfy bed which I was becoming quite attached to, we headed downstairs to indulge in a buffet breakfast at Plates, served from 6-10am every day.
A very friendly, personable young woman led us to our table, which gave us yet another stunning view of the river.
The buffet featured all the usual tasty culprits, but also homemade yoghurt, smoked salmon, pastries and a machine where guests could extract their own fresh orange juice.
People watching at nearby Racecourse Road, which boasts an array of cafes and restaurants, beckoned.
Complementary vintage-style bikes are offered to hotel guests, which we took full advantage of.
After a few wobbles, which seemed to alarm fellow cyclists, I was happily peddling around Hamilton, enjoying the bike paths and the vistas along the Brisbane River.
A convenient two-minute cycle away from the Brisbane Riverview is the Breakfast Creek Hotel.
The day was made complete when we were approached by a groom-to-be on his buck's party who had won a meat tray in the raffle and didn't want to carry it around with him.
Wherever you are Dustin, you have my eternal thanks - and I hope the wedding went well.