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HOTEL FIRST LOOK: Westin Brisbane, nice but not a patch on Melbourne sister

HOTEL FIRST LOOK: Westin Brisbane, nice but not a patch on Melbourne sister

I’ve just spent three nights in Brisbane at The Westin in Mary Steet in the CBD. We got an upgrade to a club floor and had a very comfortable stay. However, I don’t think this hotel compares in terms of design or service with its sister Westin branded hotel in Melbourne, which I reviewed in 2021.

The Westin Brisbane is a well-designed contemporary chain hotel in the central business district a stone’s through from the retail centre of the Queen Street Mall and an easy stroll across the river to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and the state’s Art Gallery and Library

a building with a tree and people walking by
The Westin Brisbane occupies 16 floors of this hotel/apartment buidling [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Location of the Westin Brisbane

The hotel occupies up to the 16th level of the 43-floor Mary Lane building, housing the hotel and separate apartments. The feel is central, and most of the city’s facilities are within a stone’s throw, including the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and the new massive Star Casina Queen’s Warf development, expected to partially open in August 2024.

a group of people standing around a counter
Reception area at The Westin Brisbane [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Style at the Westin Brisbane

The articulated facade gives a contemporary feel to the building’s exterior, and the internal hotel design is ‘modern classic’. You know the look: marble, honey-coloured leather, greys with some pops of colour. In this case, black and copper patterned chair coverings and a deep blue armchair. Linens are white, with a shabby-chic dark border, and meant to look crushed. The carpets are patterned in caramel tones with some copper and blue highlights. Light wood and curved chairs complete the look in public spaces, especially in the Settimo restaurant and the breakfast venue.

a pool with lounge chairs and a building
Pool area at The Westin Brisbane with swim up bar at the end [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Facilities and services

You will find a quite fine pool area, with a swim-up bar and an Italian-themed Settima dining space to which Melbourne chef Guy Grossi has put his name. The hotel has conference facilities and meeting rooms totalling 560 square metres, accessible directly from the outside. It also has a club lounge. There is a Heavenly Spa by Westin, a well-equipped gym, and the aforementioned Nautilus pool. Finally, The Charles is the bar/lounge on the ground floor, shared with the reception area.

a bed in a room
A King Club Room on the 16th floor of The Westin Brisbane [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Rooms at the Westin Brisbane

The hotel has 268 rooms and suites spread over the 16 floors. Rooms either face Mary Street (preferable, I think) or towards the river, but with views of a range of other high rises.

I had booked a King Room, but we were upgraded at check-in to a Club Floor room on floor 16 but without club access. I am unclear about what this upgrade meant. Without the benefits of club access, I don’t know what facilities our room had that other King Rooms didn’t. All rooms have 55″ flat-screen TVs with Chromecast, desks, chairs, a lounge chair, and matching padded stool.

Our King room was 34 sqm/366 sqft and had all the usual facilities and a few that were commendable. Wireless Wi-Fi, iron and board, and robes are standard. But we also got a PC-capable safe and a draw fridge, which could house quite tall bottles as well as other treats.

The downside of the room was my usual complaints: an unsuitable desk chair, a desk of inadequate size and a strange rhomboid design that was not comfortable, and the table/lounge standard lamp arrangement was odd, and we changed it so that we didn’t keep on banging our knees against either the lounge chair or the bed.

a table with food on it
Selection of sweat treats at the breakfast buffet at Settima at The Westin Brisbane [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Food and Drink

We only sampled Settima’s delights for the breakfast buffet. Otherwise, we ate out at Short Grain by Martin Boetz (fabulous) and Pilloni (strangely disappointing). Oh, on the first night, we were offered a free drink at The Charles, 15 minutes away from closing. We did have a drink, which was fine, but all the seating we tried looked fabulous, mostly underpadded and uncomfortable.

Back to breakfast at Settima. The buffet was extensive and generous, especially in the sweatmeats department, with lots of delicious biscuits, including cannoli. On being seated, our coffee and egg orders were taken and returned pretty promptly, usually just after we had grabbed some fruit and yoghurt from the buffet.

eggs benedict on a plate
Eggs Benedict ordered at Settima restaurant at The Westin Brisbane [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

The offering for breakfast was generous, and the service was attentive and gracious. On the final morning, when the restaurant looked more full than usual, the host joked with us that 9 am on a Sunday was always the busiest time. He asked us for our seating preference and then offered that he bet we had never eaten in the back room – with a grin. Of course, we took him up on that option, and he led us to a much more private, sparsely populated space and showed us to a booth set for four but given to just us.

I couldn’t have been happier with the food selection or the professional and well-executed service.

a bathroom with a mirror and sink
Bathroom in a King Club room at The Westin Brisbane [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Value for Money

We stayed at the hotel on a long weekend, so prices were probably on the high side of average. Our room was about AU$400 per night, but with that, we got an AU$75 daily per room credit. We had opted out of breakfast during the booking process, because the credit looked a better option, and the T&C’s didn’t preclude us from charging breakfast against the credit. We also negotiated breakfast at check-in for AU$22:50 per person per day. That was way cheaper than if we had booked breakfast which was more like AU$40 per person per day. I have found this a lot at hotels these days. Signing up for breakfast at check-in rather than booking it beforehand is better. This rule worked here and at the Adelaide Intercontinental a couple of weeks ago.

However, there was a bit of a curfuffle, which was graciously handled at checkout. On the bill presented to me, we were charged a daily fee of AU$50 for our upgrade to the Club floor. I wasn’t happy with that, as it was my understanding that the upgrade was complimentary but without Club Benefits. Since we didn’t use the club on that advice, I wasn’t prepared to pay for the privilege. The reception staff worked through what they could see on screen and returned a bill that was a little under what I was expecting, although when applying for the AU$75 per-room per-night credit, it was probably correct.

The bill was adjusted without argument. That is a good sign. It meant we left with a good feeling rather than an adverse one.

a table with chairs and utensils in a restaurant
Settima restaurant, set for breakfast at The Westin Brisbane [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

I was very happy with our stay. The room was comfortable, with all the amenities you expected. Requested extra pillows were delivered promptly, along with a dental kit. I had forgotten to pack my toothbrush. All interactions with staff were excellent, which usually distinguishes a good from an excellent hotel.

I would be happy to stay here again and would recommend the hotel to others. I’ll post a full review in a week or two.

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