Best cruise port hotels as picked and recommended by members of our groups:
Australia - Brisbane
a stylish urban escape
From the outside, Spicers Balfour Hotel resembles many of the large and beautiful Queenslander homes found in the neighborhood, the fashionable inner-city Brisbane suburb of New Farm.
Inside it holds a level of comfort and service that sets it apart from the other luxury hotels in Brisbane.
Shaded courtyards, modern suites, a neighborhood restaurant, a rooftop bar, and friendly, personal service add to the feeling of relaxed luxury.
Created by a leading design team, the luxuriously distinctive style of this chic hotel is both unique and welcoming.
Completely individual, each of the nine executive-style hotel rooms and eight luxury suites set across two buildings are charming and inviting. And while it’s close to the Brisbane CBD and Fortitude Valley precincts, Spicers Balfour Hotel feels worlds away in the leafy surrounds of New Farm.
The nine Executive rooms have a contemporary European feel matched with modern amenities. Ranging in size from 18sqm to 27sqm, they are spread over two floors within the main Balfour Hotel building. Several of the ground floor rooms open onto a small
courtyard, while the rooms upstairs feature large windows to allow fresh natural air.
The one-bedroom Balfour Suites, located in the Simla building, are as spacious as they are luxurious. Reflecting the art deco style of the building, they are 43sqm in size with a spacious bedroom and bathroom, separate sitting area, luxury amenities, mini-bar, desk, and all of the modern conveniences you would expect.
Just three kilometers from the CBD and only 20 minutes from Brisbane Airport, Spicers Balfour Hotel is hidden within the chic inner-city suburb of New Farm. A short walk around the corner lies Wilson Outlook with access via lift to Brisbane’s newest and most vibrant dining and entertainment precinct – Howard Smith Wharves – featuring a number of restaurants and bars.
Miami and Mexico’s resort-style glamour
The Calile Hotel exports Miami and Mexico’s resort-style glamour to this buzzing patch of Brisbane, replete with Instagram-worthy interiors that riff ravishingly on the Fifties. There’s a pose-worthy pool with the hotel’s name picked out in gold tiles, plus a gregarious, Greece-inspired restaurant that adds taverna hospitality to this urbane urban playground. Rooms are decked out in ice-cream-parlor hues (from peach to pistachio) with warm brass accents; many also come with admirable views of the city. Cocktails at the lobby bar (make ours a basil highball) and doctor-approved treatments at the Kailo Wellness Medispa are your additional cues to stay exactly where you are.
At the hotel
Library; salons; fitness center; boutiques; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, minibar, kettle, tea and coffee, blackout curtains.
Our favorite rooms
We’re still dreaming about the huge poolside rooms with their balconies and prime pool views; Deluxe Suites are armed with a perfectly round bathtub by the bed, making for fun nights in…
The made-for-Instagram pool has the hotel’s name spelled out in glittering gold pool tiles; the word ‘iconic’ springs to mind.
Kailo Wellness Medispa fuses ancient wisdom and modern technology; the doctor-devised treatments to try here include intravenous vitamin therapy, immune and vitality boosts, and vitamin shots.
Bring your best beachwear for that see-and-be-seen pool; something in mint-green, blush-pink, or rose-gold to wear for dinner.
This conscientious hotel has a minimal-plastic policy, including glass-only products in minibars. Alfresco breezeway corridors relieve the need for air-conditioning; eco modes for the in-room air-conditioning systems and lights reduce wasted electricity. Cold, filtered drinking water is provided throughout, instead of bottled water. Sustainable materials — such as cork — star in the design and the hotel also works hard to collect and sort recyclables.
Oh, the choices: street-inspired Thai comfort food at Same Same (indulge in the stir-fried scallops in chili and basil); classic dining and sublime martinis at SK Steak & Oyster (oh hello, lobster risotto); delicious Greek cuisine at handsome Hellenika with its pretty globe lights (the hotel’s motif) for calamari, octopus, paidakia (lamb chops with roast spuds), and baklava.
The marble-lavished, blush-pink lobby bar is a shrine to art-deco decadence; sit back and order suitably stylish cocktails (a raspberry swizzle, strawberry spritz, basil highball or Calile espresso, perhaps) and let the chilled-out soundtrack waft into your ears.
Eighties vibe to a Thirties setting
Housed in a one-time Brisbane medical centre, Ovolo Inchcolm brings an Eighties vibe to a Thirties setting, with rock-star portraits, floral walls and memorabilia-filled cabinets of curiosities. It’s on the edge of the Central Business District, but you’ll have easy access to the Gold Coast beaches, koala sanctuaries and every other good-life Australian cliché. The restaurant – styled like a pre-war Parisian salon – adds a little Asian artistry to its dishes: expect to rub shoulders with locals as well as fellow guests, all queuing up to admire the Années-Folles–accented setting and creative cuisine.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, bicycles to borrow. In rooms: Apple TV, iPad, iPod dock, air-conditioning, minibar, tea and coffee, and Biology bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Only a handful of rooms have a bathtub, so if that’s a dealbreaker, specify when you book. The split-level I Lofts are on the top floor, which means they have far-reaching city views (helpfully showcased through floor-to-ceiling windows). Four-poster fans should request a Thomson Suite.
None, but guests can access the pools at selected neighbouring hotels; ditto for a local gym.
This is Brisbane, where the mercury rarely dips below 21° Celsius, so bring appropriate Aussie-life attire (swimwear, sunhats and shorts).
The hotel isn’t easily navigable for wheelchair users.
Salon de Co is modelled on its Parisian counterparts, with parquet floors, elegant chairs, statement art and black window frames. The menu has the occasional Asian flourish, along with classic combinations such as lamb with cauliflower and romesco. Breakfast is a spread of house-made muesli, fruit and yoghurt, with à la carte options like eggs Benedict made to order. The restaurant regularly gets booked up, so be sure to reserve your table in good time.
The bar has been imagined as a Hemingway-frequented haunt, with accents from the Twenties, Thirties and Forties throughout. Pitch up with your Moleskine for a creativity-inducing cocktail (order the cheese and charcuterie board if you’re in for the long haul).