Situated in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, the Hilton Brisbane is a five star hotel which has served the city for some thirty years. It’s a rather grand – yet unassuming building – nestled in the skyline and offering quite a skyline of its own inside; an open lobby and a glass elevator looking up to all the floors and a glass ceiling.
While this unique layout gives the impression that not many secrets lay inside these walls, much like the Guggenheim in New York, there are quite a few secrets to be found. The first is the very lobby itself, only accessible after arriving via lift from a secondary lobby downstairs. The latter is rather unassuming, giving no indication to the rather grand entrance that truly awaits inside.
Once there, on your right you’ll find the magnificent restaurant Vintaged, which we’ll get to a bit later, as well as a long running reception, with plenty of helpful staff and some fruit-infused water for the thirsty traveller. It’s hot in Queensland, so that will probably be you. Stairs in the middle of the room lead down to a brand new ballroom, that had just opened the week we arrived, while a quick trip up in the open view lifts to level 8 will take you to an outdoor swimming pool. Take another quick trip on the elevator and you’ll even find an outdoor tennis court.
I was lucky enough to stay in one of the hotel’s 32 sq. m Executive Rooms, on level 24 (it’s a long way down to the lobby, as a quick view over the internal balcony will show you), which also grants access to the Executive Lounge, which sits on the top floor – just one above my own. Throughout the day you’ll find snacks, tea, coffee and basic drinks – and from 6pm you’ll enjoy alcoholic beverages and hot food, including spring rolls and fish cakes, plus salads, meats, cheeses and bakery items. But in spite of the lounge’s panoramic views, it’s hard not to want to stay comfortable in your own room.
Everything about the room screams comfort – from the ergonomic work chair and desk, to the plush bathrobe and one of the most comfortable beds you’ll ever sleep on (their pillows in particular are among the best you’re ever likely to spoon… I mean rest your head on). You’ll also find tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary bottles of mineral water, free wi-fi for Hilton HHonors members and a grand shower with toiletries from Peter Thomas Roth. Add in the view and it’s almost room for celebrating in itself.
Well, any excuse will do, really. It’s the little touches that make the service “five star”, however, such as a turnover service that leaves a cookie, instead of the standard chocolate, on the bed. Though if you enjoy a meal at the on site restaurant Vintaged, I’m not sure how hungry you’re going to be.
We start with cocktails – I go for an excellent Old Fashioned (those who read this regularly know this is my predictable choice), and we start out meal off with a slice of incredible Sourdough, with a capsicum and anchovy spread. Add on some salt and a bit of butter on a cooked, sliced, slightly charred piece, and you’ve already a most pleasing of meals. But this is, of course, only the start – onto the Coffin Bay Oysters and a glass of champagne!
The wide ranging menu encourages sharing, with a wide variety of side plates and large meals for a group. Of the starting dishes, the open ravioli with prawn ragu, red martini flambé scallops and prawn brisque is the winning dish, though the miso roasted eggplant also went down beautifully.
But head to the section dubbed “share big” in the menu, and few come larger and mightier than the Rangers Valley Tomahawk – a 2kg cut of beef that looks like it’s straight out of The Flintstones. Shared between four, it wasn’t difficult to devour it, and it was perfectly cooked – which we would know, because with their open plan kitchen the cooking process was in view for all to witness. The Tomahawk was served with a large assortment of sides and condiments – including some spicy mustard that really packed a kick, an exotic mushroom mix and of course some shoestring fries.
Elsewhere on the menu you’ll find a 1.6kg beef chuck short ribs, a mix grill of seafood and of course smaller options for less hungry diners. There’s even a vegetarian section, in spite of the restaurant’s highlighted passion for meat. And then there’s the desserts, and the featured item on the menu, which you’ll see below, is a sight to behold – and we have to wonder if there’s any inspiration from the future American President.
What you’re looking at here is a something of a deconstructed Strawberry Milkshake, with a white chocolate dome. In it you’ll find berries, white chocolate, crunchy white pearls, feullitine mousse, white chocolate crumble, freeze dried raspberries, meringue, strawberry ice cream, fizzy, strawberry pearls and to top it all off: Persian fairy floss.
It has to be one of the most fascinating desserts I’ve ever eaten. Or you can just have an affogato and of course, a cup of coffee. Vittoria coffee is the coffee of choice for most hotels, and it is here as well. But that’s surely not nearly as fun. Between dishes like this and the great glass elevator, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d arrived at a five star hotel inside Willy Wonka’s dreams.
After all that food, and a suitable amount of wine and old fashioneds, it’s time to collapse into your bed and enjoy the slumber. Check out time is Noon, so you’re not going to be in any rush to get up in the morning – though you don’t want to miss Vintaged’s breakfast buffet – with a stunning selection of hot and cold food options, as well as a chef ready to make your eggs and omelettes on demand.
And though all of this can be found in the hotel, there is a myriad of other activities to be found within walking distance from the hotel. It won’t take you long to walk to the South Bank – and on a beautiful day we recommend the stroll. Much talked about new restaurants like OTTO (480 Queen St) are also less than ten minutes walk away, and Uber and Taxi rides – as well as a public transport system – will get you anywhere you might want to go in Brisbane’s CBD or at nearby hotspots like Fortitude Valley.
Hilton Brisbane is located at 190 Elizabeth St, Brisbane City QLD. For bookings and more details, head to their official website. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to dine at Vintaged. To find out more about the bar and grill, which is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, head to their own official website.
The author travelled to Brisbane as a guest of Hilton.