Five-star Fantauzzo the perfect hanging space

Arriving at the Fantauzzo, there’s an undeniable buzz.

For starters, the latest addition to Accor’s Art Series sits spectacularly beneath Brisbane’s lovely old Story Bridge, its jagged deco geometrics a reflection of the hillside rising steeply behind.

Then there’s the wider location of Howard’s Smith Wharves, a $130 million waterfront transformation of four hectares of abandoned warehouses and overgrown scrub into Brisbane’s coolest new space.

Where dockers and wharfies once toiled, the trendy and well-heeled now flock to sample paddles at Felons craft brewery or dine at a collection of eateries – including the overwater octagon of Mr Percival’s.

The design spec here is stunning. The 30s-era buildings sit easily with the respectful new and the area is packed with a happy, noisy crowd encompassing everything from kids tearing around the grass to frocked-up parties sipping pre-drinks ahead of a night at the Howard’s Hall events venue.

Parking in the cramped underground car park isn’t an easy dance, but once at street level, The Fantauzzo beckons you in under a generous entrance portico and the lobby is a showcase of works by its namesake artist,  portraitist Vincent Fantauzzo.

The man married to Asher Keddie doesn’t mind sharing her with the world, and a vast portrait adorns one lobby wall.  Other depictions of celebrities, Heath Ledger among them, mingle with a stunning Tassie Tiger and Fantauzzo’s award-winning ‘son as superman’ on another.

It sets up art as the most important feature of Brisbane’s newest luxury establishment and everything about the Fantauzzo is attuned to an appreciation of aesthetic.

Dark interiors and a minimalist ethos run throughout the hotel and it took us a while to find our way – despite the best efforts of front office staff, who offered impeccable service throughout and were a real delight. Once we got used to navigating by numbers illuminated at ankle height, we were off and running.

Inside, our room faced towards the cliff against which the Fantauzzo is built, the plant-covered rock an imposing canvas rising up towards the underbelly of the Story Bridge.

While the water views from suites across the hallway (yes, we sticky beaked) might have been more expansive and created a whole different vibe, our room felt like an intimate cave.

From the verdant green chaise to the cubist chrome-and-mirror coffee table, it felt as though everything was bespoke and a little bit special.

Detail is everywhere and we spend some time admiring the minimal handle-less doors, ingenious storage spaces, and the fabulous hanging hooks which looked as though the decorators forgot to clear up gold paint spilled over the top of the door.

Then there’s the art: the large-scale canvasses appropriately showcased by their demure surrounds.

We were treated to two stylised drawings of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and an incredible hyper-real depiction of actor Guy Pearce, part of the hotel’s 300-strong collection of Fantauzzo prints and originals.

We ordered a couple of room service dishes and even they were stylish: mushroom arancini, parmesan aioli and herb-salted fries served in crockery which resembled vintage camping ware. Craft beers in the minibar were a welcome addition to the in-room picnic.

Food and drink options at the hotel include Polpetta, an in-house restaurant with a focus on Italian fare ‘inspired by the streets of Rome’. While our schedule didn’t allow time to dine in, the dinner and à la carte breakfast menus looked tempting.

Fiume is the Fantauzzo’s rooftop bar and its elegant styling provides a background to magnificent views across Brisbane’s CBD and river, particularly as the city and bridge light up after dark.

In our more subtly illuminated guestroom, we discovered gallery lighting presents challenges when preparing for a night out. It was hard to tell if I’d applied my make up like Beyonce or Bridget Jones, but it feels like a minor quibble and they do say you must suffer for art.

After returning from said night out, we enjoyed a blissfully comfortable slumber in our king-bedded cave. Someone must have worked very hard on sound proofing at the Fantauzzo because despite its inner city surrounds, including a major thoroughfare running directly overhead, it was impressively quiet.

Next time we stay, we’ll hire a bike from the lobby collection and explore the riverside boardwalk which runs past the hotel from New Farm to the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. Or take a personalised art tour around the hotel – a service offered free to guests.

Or we might just sit back and sip a Nespresso in our own private gallery without ever sloughing off the bathrobe.

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