The best of boutique hotels: For accommodation that’s inspiring and surprising (and a little left-of-centre in all the right ways), check out – or check into – Brisbane’s Urban Hotel. Situated at the highest point of the city, this stylish hotel is nestled in a gorgeous little pocket overlooking the CBD and within walking distance to lush parks, cafes, transport and a variety of convenience options.
Take a one-minute tour with me…
The mantra here is to offer guests ‘surprises’, and on this promise, Hotel Urban certainly delivers. We’re not the only ones who think so either, as this hotel recently scored a Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Award and the Best Superior Hotel (4 to 4.5 Stars) accolade at the Queensland Hotel Awards.
The lobby − aka Moët Rosé Lounge − showcases alluring art, elegant seating and Hollywoodesque decor, as well as designer fragrances which you’re free spritz for a post-travel pick-me-up. Rooms are spacious and fitted with contemporary luxuries like Nespresso pod machines, iPod docking stations, flat-screen televisions, quality interiors, and include comfy Slow Down slippers, plush bathrobes, and the signature Urban Snorer specially crafted underlay, snug duvet and feather pillows. There is a range of rooms on offer, including suites with enormous balconies and sweeping city views, as well as pool-side villas named after Australia’s most famous beaches. In fact, the pool-side accommodation is ideal for groups travelling to Brisbane, because the sophisticated outdoor area beyond these rooms features private cabanas, sun-chairs and landscaping that will have you and your entourage channelling the glamorous lives of Footballers’ Wives in no time. There’s a gym (‘jim’), in-room massage available, funny and friendly staff, arty and colourful public spaces ideal for reading or a quiet chat with friends, and even an amazing private rooftop nightclub, meeting and conference rooms for those interested in reserving special-event facilities.
The Gazebo Bar & Restaurant on-site is not only where delicious meals may be devoured, drinks consumed and live entertainment enjoyed on Friday nights, but friends are likely to be made too! It’s an informal yet sassy gathering-place that at any given time brings forward a mix of accents and interesting folk. If however, you’re alone at the end of the day, Suzanne the cuddle-pole has been thoughtfully positioned so you’ve got ‘someone’ to lean on as darkness falls. Or, if you’re lucky like me, you might score one of the hotel brand’s signature soft-toy monkeys to keep as a memento of a truly lovely, unique, stylish, incredibly cool facility that offers so much more than just a bed for the night. Press play on the video above to see all of this in a one-minute walk-thru.
Cairns in Tropical North Queensland is world-famous as being situated on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef, however there are so many amazing things to explore in the region.
In fact, you can experience a ‘snapshot’ of ‘Australia’ all within one easy-to-navigate area of North Queensland: Reef, rainforest and the Outback. Where to start though? My travel and adventure partner, Cooper, and I decided to give a new APP, Taste Paradise a whirl, however we combined a couple of its suggested trails (the Misty Mountain trail and Savannah Tablelands) into one. Hire a car, book a bus or jump on the Skyrail and begin in Kuranda…
You could spend a week cruising through the sublime landscapes of the Cairns Highlands / Atherton Tablelands − rainforest, dusty flat land, coffee plantations, bananas, nuts, citrus fruits, tea, green dairy pastures, mountainous trails, lakes, waterfalls and palm trees − eating and photographing every hour or so. We only had a weekend unfortunately, which was then condensed into a day, however an itinerary of interest which allows a food-loving traveller to not only see, but taste, the best Tropical North Queensland has to offer, could be as follows:
Kuranda Markets – for all your delicious locally grown produce, market-wares, rainforest charm and Golden Drop Mango Wine (also an optional stop available near Mareeba). Open from 9am, 7 days.
Jaques Coffee Plantation – rich history, delicious coffee and an interesting tour. Did you know the family who own this are from Tanzania, and developed the world’s first mechanical coffee harvester! Open 9am to 5pm daily.
Coffee Works, 136 Mason Street, Mareeba, open 9am to 4pm daily, for gourmet coffee, chocolate, liqueur and tea.
Mount Uncle Distillery and Bridges Cafe, on your way out of Mareeba on the way towards Atherton – premium liqueurs and spirits here, as well as a beautiful setting. This is North Queensland’s first and only distillery. Cellar room and tea room open 7 days, 10am to 4:30pm.
If you have time, you might like to take a detour towards Lake Tinaroo, or even stay at this lovely location overnight.
Head into Atherton and visit Gallo Dairyland for delectable product. Their website is really interesting and features great facts about the local dairy industry. Cheese and chocolate on the menu – need I say more?
The famous Nerada Tea plantation is along here too, 10km outside Malanda, open 7 days, 9am to 4pm − ideal for morning or afternoon tea.
You could drop by Malanda Falls for some photos before continuing to Millaa Millaa. The landscapes become markedly hilly and green throughout this region, as you’ve entered the beautiful misty mountains trail and waterfall circuit. Millaa Millaa Falls and lookout are also worthwhile, picturesque stops.
Finally, take a drive down a narrow road towards Mungalli Creek Biodynamic Diary. You could be forgiven for confusing this countryside with the rolling green lands of Ireland, but the Aussie accents and hospitality at this quaint tea-house will have you back in Oz in no time. Enjoy a Devonshire Tea or cheesecake, and don’t leave without purchasing some famous Mungalli Creek gourmet Greek-style yoghurt, soft or hard cheeses. If Gallo Dairyland is about cheese and chocolate, then this spot is about cheese and tea. All good by me!
Then complete your circuit by heading back towards Cairns (about an hour / hour and a half drive back to the city from Mungalli Creek).
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