Brisbane, you’ve come a long way baby. I know it’s been said a lot lately but Brisbane really is ramping up its position as a ‘must visit’ Australian city. The addition of the Fantauzzo (an Art Series Hotel) to the upscale yet approachable hotel scene here is a prime example of an emotive accommodation experience.
The visual trip begins in the foyer where prized pieces by the highly acclaimed Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo adorn the walls. An enchanting art labyrinth tracks down the halls and moves with you to your chosen suite – where there’s no doubt a mesmerizing Fantauzzo portrait is hanging ever so neatly. Oft complimented by a svelte green velvet chaise & moody lighting – for a theatrical yet practical lounge vibe. Mood, tick. Frame, click.
The city lights are mirrored on the snaking Brisbane River’s surface come night, a sight that beckons you to stroll along the promenade and into Brissy’s heart. Nevertheless I chose to dine in and thoroughly inspect the hotel & its immediate surrounds some more. For a travel writer really should be taking notes when under the Story Bridge, of this I am sure.
The Fantauzzo sits front and centre of Brisbane’s newest entertainment and lifestyle aka the Howard Wharves Precinct. Dotted with meticulous picnic areas, on trend cafes’, a waterfront craft brewery and eatery, modern bars and award winning restaurants. It’s a brand new build and the hotel is strategically positioned alongside the carved rocky precipice that supports the cities iconic Story Bridge.
Choose a suite overlooking the river for outstanding balcony vistas or to rear of the property if you’re seeking classy seclusion. The CBD is a short walk away or perhaps a cycling exploration of the city via the onsite Lekker bikes is more your thing. The Fantauzzo hotel also has eco-friendly smart cars available to hire by the hour or at full day rates.
Did I mention the awe inspiring art collection of Fantauzzo’s on show here already? Moving portraits of talented Australian thespians have found a stellar home here. A Heath Ledger montage creates a hushed boom like effect to my head. It’s a strikingly uncanny likeness, an veritably intimate insight to Heath captured by Vincent on a trip to Perth (Ledger’s home base many moons ago). If eyes are the window to the soul (and I believe they are) then its affirmative that Heath’s bore witness to a life lived with wisdom and heartache in one. May he forever rest in peace…
A Guy Pearce portrait makes a grand entrance – I’m affronted by Fantauzzo’s ability to perceive and then to paint a man to be precisely so devilishly handsome. A painting of talented Australian personality Asher Keddie is notably powerful. The guarded warmth & quiet comedy of this tousled blonde actress is captured and the artist has somehow dreamily portrayed both her intelligence and charisma with the stroke of a brush. I’m later told she is Vincent’s wife – I imagine they’d make a creative match of minds indeed. The artist and the actress – forever muses.
On my way to the rooftop bar a picture of a seductive brunette with a her back to me and a red flamenco skirt trailing off an unkempt bed turns my head sideways. Right before an charcoal skull etched on a starch white palate escorts me from the dark of the halls to the roof top pool entry door.
If you’re the type of traveler who appreciates modern architectural design complimented by an array of evocative art then a stay at the Fantauzzo is already destined for you. Same goes for couples seeking a romantic and dare I say, sexy weekend getaway. Like your hotel suite designed sleek, tech friendly and coolly androgynous? Good, you too have picked a winner by way of this much lauded Brisbane hotel zone.
Expect deep dream inducing beds, mutely beautiful room furnishings, subtlety aromatic toiletries and an attention demanding minibar offering up all kinds of boutique drink offerings and snazzy snack happy treats. Hint: the Deluxe Studio is a great choice for the corporate traveler type while the Deluxe Riverview Balcony is better suited for a chic evening of entertaining.
BARS & DINING:
Polpetta Italian Kitchen & Bar
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Polpetta takes great pride in delivering mouthwatering meals to its appreciative guests. Upon arrival its was immediately evident to me that this smart restaurant space attracted switched on diners seeking authentic Italian flavours in an effervescent setting.
I was immediately sold on a delicate entree of cured salmon, shaved fennel, caramelized lemon and creme fraiche and actively encouraged my lover to order the grilled octopus with potato mousseline to share. The mains too were a memorable affair of Black Onyx beef shoulder and a succulent free range pork cutlet. Best take your time when dining at Polpetta because you’ll want to savour their heavenly house made pasta dishes and delicate risotto’s too. Think rustic tastes straight from the streets of Rome.
Location! Flume takes poll position on the Brisbane River when it comes to dazzling cityscape sights that effortlessly create a magic riverside vibe. My friends, the menu was filled with a broad range of taste temptations – in fact many more share plate dishes than I expected a cozy cool rooftop bar would offer.
My Autumn appetite veered direct to the burrata, antipasta and the Noosa mushroom arancini (bellissimo), pleasantly washed down with a bold Malbec or three. And, yes, I aim to return to the Fantauzzo come Summer when a jug of sangria is guaranteed to be split with my comrades over bowls of eggplant chips with a buckwheat, polenta and parsley crumb. Tip; the homemade veal and pork meatballs with tomato sugo and smoked scamorza created downstairs are a must try dish too.
A brief hotel tour of the Fantauzzo’s elite conference space confirmed my preconceived notion that the hotel would make for a great meeting place. The private board rooms seemed professionally welcoming and the elegant event areas overlooked the Brisbane River from a prized Story Bridge vantage point.
After my most interesting stay at the Fantauzzo, I firmly believe it deserves all the fanfare that comes its way. This contemporary hotel is in great creative company – which is no surprise given its lineage by way of sister properties such as The Cullen – another ‘must see’ Art Series Hotel, this time situated in Melbourne’s exclusively inviting Prahan locale. Note; The Johnson (located in Brisbane’s Spring Hill district) is also an option for the curious art aficionado seeking a hotel that merges quirk with quality oh so well.
For Fantauzzo rates and availability please visit;