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Hotel Highlights

  • A discreet designer escape in the heart of the city.
  • A view-toting rooftop bar with cocktails to die for.
  • Fashion stores, epicurean fare, design and art just a stroll away.

Overview

Sleek European design mixes with exotic vintage at the hip Spicers Balfour Hotel, set smack dab in New Farm/Fortitude Valley, the creative cognoscenti’s neighbourhood of choice in Brisbane. A renovated, 110-year-old classic Queenslander topped with a 24-hour rooftop bar – perfect for impromptu nightcaps – this stylish spot makes for an ideal urban escape.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Spicers Balfour Hotel with us:

A glass of Veuve Ambal each on arrival

Facilities

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Spicers Balfour Hotel – Brisbane – Australia

Need To Know

Rooms

Nine, including one suite.

Check–out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability (at a cost of AU$50 an hour). Check-in, 2pm. Reception is unmanned between 11pm and 7am; if you're arriving late, contact the hotel in advance to arrange things.

Rates

Double rooms from $210.55 (AU$226), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include continental and à la carte breakfast, evening canapés, arrival and departure gifts, and parking.

Also

You won’t be able to resist sliding between the 1,000-thread count Italian-designed Society sheets to peruse the pillow menu. Other smart touches at the Balfour include your broadsheet of choice to accompany your breakfast macchiato, and Australian art works adorning walls and nooks.

At the hotel

Private dining room, library with CDs, DVDs and board games, gym, gardens. In rooms: LCD TV with Foxtel satellite channels, Bose iPod docking station, free WiFi throughout, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, Billi chilled and boiling filtered water tap, Côté Bastide toiletries, pillow menu.

Our favourite rooms

Plucked from the imagination of local interior designer Rowena Cornwell, soothing black and muted jewel tones, and a fusion of contemporary and vintage elements make for luxurious lodgings. The apple of this hotel’s eye is the aptly named Terrace Suite, which features its own garden-view terrace balcony for lovebirds in want of a little clandestine canoodling. We also love Courtyard Room 8 for its calming courtyard, perfect for contemplation.

Packing tips

Bring only a few sets of underwear – the hotel’s ‘Socks and Jocks’ service will wash your unmentionables each evening for free (so just pack your finest).

Also

Spicers Balfour is non-smoking. If the rooftop bar's ambrosial cocktails don’t ease you into a Zen state, indulge in some yoga or spa pampering care of the nearby Body Essence Day Spa.

Children

Spicers Balfour is more of an adults' retreat – leave the kids at home.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

The Balfour Kitchen serves up unpretentious, bistro-style food – flavoursome dishes such as cider-braised pork belly with white-bean purée and pickled apple; hot smoked salmon with whipped goat's cheese, asparagus and crisp breads; and roast eggplant with buffalo mozzarella and semi-dried tomato. Chef Peter van Lunn’s locally sourced, seasonal organic food is best enjoyed on the breezy expanse of the classic Queenslander wrap-around veranda. Breakfast and high tea is served daily; dinner is served between 5pm and 9.30pm (Tuesday–Saturday).

Hotel Bar

A rooftop view of the city skyline, smudged with the pastels of dusk, sets a sultry scene for an evening rendez-vous at the Balfour’s bijou bar. Cocktail connoisseurs can’t resist sliding their hands around liquid ladies such as the Vesper Lynd or Scarlett O’Hara, a moreish mix of Southern Comfort, cranberry and lime.

Last orders

Brunch is served until noon. If you fancy a midnight tipple under the stars, the Rooftop Bar is open 24 hours and works on an honour system when unattended.

Room service

Available at your whim, the menu spans croque monsieur, home-made pizza, and burnt fig, honeycomb and caramel ice-cream for sweet tooths.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Stylish yet laid-back threads are in order, ideal for lounging with a copy of Monocle on the roof terrace, or playing a game of chess with fellow guests.

Top table

For the innamorati, there’s nothing more intimate than breakfast taken on your own private terrace overlooking the garden in the Terrace Suite.

Local Guide

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Spicers Balfour Hotel – Brisbane – Australia
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Art lovers can while away an afternoon wandering through the quirky mélange of galleries dotted along the streets of Fortitude Valley. Keep an eye out for Dante, the resident labradoodle at the Jan Murphy Gallery (486 Brunswick Street; +61 (0)7 3254 1855; www.janmurphygallery.com.au), who is occasionally mistaken for a sculpture. For a touch of greenery, drift down the other end of Brunswick Street to New Farm Park, where the locals flock to picnic, nurse hangovers, throw a frisbee or fire up the riverside barbecue. Treat your tastebuds to the farmers’ markets held every second and fourth Saturday morning of the month, worth checking out if only for the delectable gourmet samples on offer. Perched on the edge of New Farm Park, the Brisbane Powerhouse (119 Lamington Street; +61 (0)7 3358 8622; www.brisbanepowerhouse.org) is an arts and cultural centre housed in a decommissioned powerhouse. If you lean towards the avant-garde, you’ll find all manner of folly at this establishment, including theatre, art and comedy. Enjoy a Sunday session seasoned by river breezes at its resident watering holes, Bar Alto (+61 (0)7 3358 1063; www.baralto.com.au) and Watt (+61 7 3358 5464; www.watt.net.au). For a shot of sartorial inspiration, head to Ann, Brunswick and James Streets in Fortitude Valley, where your credit card will be begging for a work-out. Gents can peruse the threads at Angus Black (665 Ann Street; +61 (0)7 3252 8641; www.angusblack.com.au), and ladies yearn for the frocks lining the racks at Blonde Venus (707 Ann Street; +61 (0)7 3216 1735; www.blondevenus.com.au). While you’re in the neighbourhood, pop around the corner to Winn Lane for vintage treasures, adorable stationery and hearty café fare.

Local restaurants

One of two establishments from revered local restaurateur Simon Hill, Ortiga (+61 (0)7 3852 1155; www.ortiga.com.au), at 446 Brunswick Street, claimed the title of Australia’s Best Restaurant in the Gourmet Traveller Awards 2010. Head to this eatery and bar for authentic Spanish fare and a shrewdly curated wine list. Inspired by the unfussy yet sumptuous cuisine of Continental Europe, The Continental Café (+61 (0)7 3254 0377; www.continentalcafe.com.au), at 21 Barker Street, serves up classic European food in a cosy setting. With decor reminiscent of the Hemingway era, award-winning The Buffalo Club at 1/234 Wickham Street (+61 (0)7 3216 1323; www.thebuffaloclub.com.au) offers seasonal tasting menus paired with perfectly matched wines. Recommended for adventurous palates.

Local bars

Laid-back Gertie’s Bar and Restaurant at 699 Brunswick Street (+61 (0)7 3358 5088; www.gerties.com.au) is set to a soothing soundtrack of jazz, with large open windows ideal for sipping cocktails amid tropical summer breezes. Be sure to try the Oscar Wilde – a beguiling fusion of tequila, lime, guava and ginger.

Local cafés

The bleary-eyed revellers who line up outside Au Cirque Café (618 Brunswick Street; +61 (0)7 3254 0479) are lovers of fine food who come to heal their weary souls with wholesome breakfasts or lunches. The café’s tasty corn cakes and creamy eggs Benedict will change your world. Francophiles also queue out the door of Chouquette (1/19 Barker Street; +61 (0)7 3358 6336; www.chouquette.com.au) to indulge in the flaky baked treats of this French pâtisserie.

+ Enlarge
New Farm creative hub

Spicers Balfour Hotel

37 Balfour Street, New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland 4005, Australia

Spicers Balfour is in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of New Farm, a hotbed of happening fashion, design, food and bars.

Planes

Fly into Brisbane Airport (www.bne.com.au), 13 kilometres from the CBD, which is serviced by most major airlines as well as domestic carriers Qantas (www.qantas.com.au), Jetstar (www.jetstar.com) and Virgin Australia (www.virginaustralia.com). A taxi from the airport to the hotel costs around AU$40, or catch the Airtrain (www.airtrain.com.au) to Fortitude Valley for AU$12.

Trains

If you’ve got the patience, you can catch an interstate train (www.countrylink.info) into Roma Street Station in the Brisbane CBD. The nearest train station to Spicers Balfour is Fortitude Valley, an easy 1.5-kilometre stroll from the hotel.

Automobiles

There is a wealth of car-hire options at Brisbane Airport, and free off-street parking at Spicers Balfour.

Other

For getting around the local area, rent a CityCycle bike (www.citycycle.com.au) and revel in the sunshine that Brisbane is renowned for. Also, be sure to take a ride on a CityCat (www.translink.com.au) – the fleet of catamarans that are part of the public-transport network and glide along the Brisbane River day and night. Spicers Balfour is in the heart of the action, so you’ll be able to explore the area easily by foot.

Reviews

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Spicers Balfour Hotel – Brisbane – Australia

Anonymous review

by Sarah Lewis , Wandering wordsmith

How soon is too soon for your first weekend away with a new belle or beau? When I reveal I’m taking a six-week-old relationship on the road, my friends’ jaws simultaneously head south. However, with me moving overseas in a few months, this is a fast-tracked frisson, love-express if you will, and all normal timeframes are thrown out the window.  So it is that my freshly minted Mr …
Read more

Spicers Balfour Hotel

Anonymous review by Sarah Lewis, Wandering wordsmith

How soon is too soon for your first weekend away with a new belle or beau? When I reveal I’m taking a six-week-old relationship on the road, my friends’ jaws simultaneously head south. However, with me moving overseas in a few months, this is a fast-tracked frisson, love-express if you will, and all normal timeframes are thrown out the window. 

So it is that my freshly minted Mr Smith and I make for Brisbane one Friday afternoon. He has a Longchamp sports bag casually slung over his shoulder, while I wrestle with my crammed carry-on, attempting to give that insouciant impression of low maintenance, but secretly seething that I've left a third pair of heels at home.

No matter the age of a relationship, the rules for weekends away are standard: switch your regular mascara for a waterproof version (Courtney Love-style smears are so 1995) and plump for a heavy-duty blow-dry that’ll last a few days so he doesn’t see how long you really spend in the bathroom. (The only downside to this is that you spend those steamy shower sessions desperately trying to keep your head out of the water: shower caps in this scenario are simply not ok.)

As it’s early days I’m still out to impress, so have arranged to have a hat-wearing, sign-bearing chauffeur from Spicers Balfour Hotel greet us at the airport. We bundle out of the sleek BMW 20 minutes later and into our weekend retreat, a 110-year-old Queenslander in the arty New Farm precinct that’s been transformed into a nine-room hotel.

It’s approaching 11pm when Corey swiftly checks us in, pointing out the rooftop bar and escorting us to our Executive Room. Mr Smith and I take in the Rowena Cornwall-designed surrounds, a quirky, well-curated mix of modern-meets-vintage, with plush, sink-your-toes-in carpet, a mammoth bed piled with cushions and antique Sino-chic bedside tables. I also spy a see-through panel at the base of the bathroom door, just a few feet from the bed, immediately wiping out any hope of modesty.

Within minutes of unpacking, which for Mr Smith entails flinging every item in his bag around the room (note to self: if this takes off, we’re going to need a cleaner), he speaks six of the sweetest words I’m ever likely to hear, ‘Babe, can we take a bath?’

For someone who spends hours soaking – and whose previous boyfriends have been of the hop-in-hop-out persuasion – this is pure heaven. We run the bath, splashing in half a bottle of Côté Bastide bubble bath, before realising something’s missing from this blissful scene. With no minibar in the room, we dash upstairs to the rooftop bar to order drinks, then slip back down with a bottle of sparkling wine, just in time to turn the taps off and avert a soggy situation.

Wrinkled and pink, we emerge two hours later and flop onto the king-size bed. Flinging all but two cushions off the bed, I make a half-hearted promise to peruse the pillow menu tomorrow.

A chipper Kiwi called Alex shows us to our linen-topped table for breakfast the next morning on the breezy, deep veranda. As I devour a delicious pumpkin and goat’s cheese omelette and Mr Smith attempts to make a dent in the big breakfast, Alex happily shares tips for the day ahead.

First stop is GOMA, Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art, where we take in a Matisse exhibition and ogle Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s playful displays of polka dots. A short walk along the Brisbane River brings us to bustling South Bank and a lunch of fish and chips at South Bank Surf Club, before we catch a CityCat ferry back to New Farm.

As we’ve booked afternoon tea at the Balfour, the 10-minute walk from the jetty to the hotel turns out to be an appetite-inducing godsend. On the frangipani-fringed veranda, Corey brings us Pimm’s and a tower of treats, brimming with crustless sandwiches and petite cakes.

Barely have we scoffed the last scone when it’s time for sunset canapés on the rooftop terrace. Around a dozen guests are at the open-air bar, perched on stools overlooking the Story Bridge, to enjoy Balfour’s free spread of beetroot tarts, salmon rillettes and prosciutto wraps. While other couples look like they’re settling in with backgammon and a bottle of wine, I knock back a last sip of champagne and hurry Mr Smith along for our imminent dinner reservation. By now, his face is a mixture of bemused and abused. This lady likes to eat, ok?

The force-feeding is forgiven as soon as the first plates land at Ortiga, a buzzy Spanish restaurant just a short hop away. In the edgy, street-level tapas bar, we gorge on golden croquettes, crispy fried prawns, house-cured meats and salty pimientos de Padrón (also known as Russian roulette peppers, as one in 10 is mouth-searingly hot), washed down with cocktails and cava.

Next stop is the Bowery in neighbouring Fortitude Valley, a speakeasy-style bar that’s very Manhattan. After a negroni for me and an apple and cinnamon martini for him (Mr Smith has a knack for ordering the girliest drinks), we stroll back to Balfour, ducking into Ortiga for an espresso martini en route.

By now Mr Smith knows the drill, and is running a bubble bath within seconds of our return. Hours evaporate, pillows are flung and the sleep that follows is deep. So deep, in fact, that when we awake the next morning it’s almost time to check out. A quick call to the ever-helpful Alex buys us an extra couple of hours, and the cheeky aside ‘to have fun until then’. Breakfast, we think sadly, has passed us by… yet Alex impresses once again when he calls to say he’ll keep the kitchen open. Weekends away don’t get better than this.

After a luxurious lie-in and another knockout meal (it’s no wonder the Balfour is a brunch favourite among locals), Alex calls us a cab. It’s just a regular run-of-the-mill taxi this time, but that doesn’t matter – all pretence has been dropped and Mr Smith and I are already plotting our next weekend away. Fast, yes. Fabulous? Absolutely.
 

The Guestbook

Reviews of Spicers Balfour Hotel from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved everything; the team is great. We had the most amazing time and felt so welcome even when we turned up at 6:30am. Maria sorted us out with coffee and breakfast, and advised us on where to walk in the city till our room was ready.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the friendly staff, modern aesthetic in an old building, chic rooms with lots of mod cons, great food (we had dinner and breakfast) and the location.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the homey atmosphere, the understated luxury, small touches like the home-style brownie on the pillow, the beautiful linen and towels, the sweet little rooftop bar and the excellent service, which was personable and professional but perfectly pitched.

Don’t expect

I wish there was a pool. I didn't particularly like the breakfast scene on Saturday when people come from around Brisbane for brekky, but that's a minor irritation.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

It was quiet, personal and peaceful, and the rooms have everything you could want, including a hair dryer that actually has some power! I enjoyed a fabulous breakfast on balcony and great drinks on rooftop.

Don’t expect

A dock for the Bose stereo or an audio cable would be good (I didn't travel with one this time).

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I had a very comfortable room. It's a peaceful neighbourhood but good cafés and shops around the corner. Good food.

Don’t expect

Cabs don't always come when they say they will.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Executive rooms are small but well designed, with an excellent bed and pillows. Breakfast is a feature. I will have dinner next time as we had made other arrangements but the menu looked inviting. On a summer evening the terrace bar provides an atmospheric place for drinks. Spicer's Balfour is a small, intimate, well appointed, friendly boutique hotel.

Rating: 7/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This boutique hotel is a delight. The manager and staff are exceptional as was the food at both breakfast and a dinner we had one night. The location is quiet and within walking distance to the river where you can catch a boat into the city. It is also a nice walk along the river into the city and walking distance to local shops and restaurants. I booked a massage, which was heavenly. The room was small and compact, as was the bathroom – they're not for people who want space. I would book the larger suite if we return to Brisbane for an extended period of time. The bed and pillows were comfortable with instant hot and cold water for tea, etc, which was fabulous; I have not seen this in a hotel before. They have a rooftop bar with lovely views at night of the bridge and buildings behind; it's very nice to just sit back with a champagne and enjoy the surroundings. We hired a car and drove to Noosa for the day; the hotel has free parking at the rear of the building which is great.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is an amazing little hotel with incredibly helpful and pleasant staff. This is a real hidden gem and the position is good – just outside the main city area. We were able to walk into the city in 20 minutes or so.

Don’t expect

Nothing!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Great place to stay on a business trip to get away from the corporate world and actually enjoy staying away from home. Great service and staff. I'll certainly be back when next in Brisbane.

Rating: 9/10 stars