Australia and New Zealand – Six of the best city hotels

City chic for lovers of fine wine and food

By Winsor Dobbin
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Foyer at the Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart

Foyer at the Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart

Sofitel Wentworth Hotel, Sydney
The Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart
The Emporium Hotel, Brisbane
The Lyall Hotel, South Yarra, Melbourne


From boutique accommodation to art hotels, Winsor Dobbin explores some chic city hotels with particular appeal to lovers of fine wine and food.


The Lyall Hotel, South Yarra, Melbourne

Lovers of understated boutique hotels that offer low-key luxury will enjoy this little gem in South Yarra, an inner city Melbourne suburb with a huge range of dining-out options and an ideal base for day trips to the Mornington Peninsula or the Yarra Valley.

The Lyall is Melbourne’s only privately-owned and managed five-star hotel and is noted for its personalised service. There are only 40 suites at the boutique property, all with terraces, a personal gourmet bar and 24-hour room service.

There is a concierge to assist with restaurant bookings and limousine transfers and the perfect spot to relax in the Champagne Bar with an excellent selection of bubbles (think Moet, Taittinger, Laurent-Perrier, Bollinger and Dom Perignon) – wines from artisan producers, a bistro that’s open throughout the day and a on-site spa.

Good news for wine lovers is that the hotel also has its own 'insider access'  tour guide who can put together bespoke, chauffeur-driven full-day vineyard tours.

The Lyall Hotel is at 14 Murphy Street, South Yarra. Phone (03) 9868 8222.


The Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney

The Sofitel Wentworth is perfectly situated for anyone looking to enjoy Sydney’s city and waterfront eateries – it’s just a short stroll from Circular Quay.

As part of the French-owned Accor group, it puts a particular emphasis on its culinary offerings, and also has some interesting wine offerings – with several good imports.

There are regular seasonal innovations, including a cheese buffet in the Garden Court restaurant that proved popular last year, and a selection of wine flights. There are also visits by guest chefs, including French legend Albert Roux, who will be cooking on April 8.

The Sofitel is a big five-star hotel, with 436 rooms, including 46 suites – and higher-category rooms offer access to Club Sofitel, a quiet oasis in which to escape the city bustle.

The Garden Court restaurant, a long-time Sydney favourite, showcases a fusion of French cuisine and Australian ingredients, while the Sofitel Lounge serves a selection of teas, coffees, cognac, cocktails and an outstanding Champagne selection, as well as a brasserie options for lunch and dinner. Afternoon teas are something of a tradition and hugely popular.

The Sofitel Wentworth is at 61-101 Phillip Street, Sydney. Phone (02) 9228 9188.


The Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart

Situated in a superbly refurbished old waterfront jam factory, the Henry Jones Art Hotel is one of Hobart’s most stylish addresses and has won a number of awards since opening in 2004.

Situated overlooking the fishing fleet and within walking distance of the Tasmanian capital’s major tourism attractions, it also offers several gourmet treats – with a new restaurant currently being planned.

The transformed former IXL facility is also an art gallery – with regular tours of the artwork decorating the public spaces offered. There are over 300 artworks, constantly rotated, and some of them decorate the 56 rooms and suites, all of which are different.

The restaurants and bars aim to highlight the best of Tasmania’s fine food and wines and guests can choose from Henry's Restaurant, the IXL Long Bar (which sometimes featured live entertainment), and the Jam Packed Café.

Leading Hobart restaurants including Garagistes, Smolt and the new Ethos are all within a short walk, as are the wine bars on Salamanca Place.

The Henry Jones Art Hotel is at 25 Hunter Street, Hobart. Phone (03) 6210 7700.


Richardson Hotel, Perth

Perth’s boutique Richardson Hotel has been a regular winner of hospitality awards over the past few years and attracts guests who like comfortable surrounds and unobtrusive service.

It is home to two eateries: The Conservatory and Opus Restaurant, which has established itself as one of Perth’s premier dinner venues and offers dishes with French, Asian and modern Australian accents. Chef Todd Cheavins uses fresh Western Australian produce whenever possible.

Opus boasts its own wine annex; a raised semi-private section with a library of fine wines against a natural stone backdrop, as well as a private dining room.

Designed by London architect Sir Terry Farrell, The Richardson offers state-of-the-art technology in its 74 guestrooms and suites, most of which have private balconies.

The Richardson is at 32 Richardson Street, Perth. Phone (08) 9217 8888.


The Emporium Hotel, Brisbane

Brisbane's hotel scene has undergone a renaissance over the past few years with the opening of several boutique hostelries, including the trailblazing 108-room Emporium Hotel in the vibrant inner city suburb of Fortitude Valley.

Opened in 2007, The Emporium, in the heart of a stylish shopping precinct, is a true design hotel with striking architecture and nice little touches including a selection of pillows.

There are 102 studio suites in all, custom designed, and 42 have spa baths. All have 'Sip & Crave' personal mini bars and the service is excellent.

The rooftop features a lap pool, sauna and gym while the lobby adjoins a stunning cocktail bar with an excellent selection of wines. A range of tapas are on offer in the evenings and several of Brisbane’s top restaurants and bars are within walking distance.

The Emporium is at 1000 Ann Street Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Phone (07) 3253 6999.


The Museum Hotel, Wellington

In the heart of the New Zealand capital, the Museum Hotel is a place to stay with a difference – owner Chris Parkin’s extensive and eclectic art collection is on permanent display in the public areas of the hotel.

The 165-room boutique hotel is located opposite the harbour and New Zealand’s impressive national museum, Te Papa, and is an easy drive from the Martinborough vineyards.

The spacious lobby features an opulent décor, walls adorned with original New Zealand art and a bar/café in which to relax.

Hippopotamus, the hotel’s award-winning in-house restaurant, offers harbour views and French-style cuisine by chef Laurent Loudeac. It hosts regular wine dinners and pre- and post-theatre meals. There is also an on-site hairdressing salon and day spa along with indoor heated lap pool, spa pool, sauna and fitness centre.

Entry-level rooms boast queen-size beds, writing desks, armchairs and en-suite bathrooms with bath and shower, along with satellite television channels, mini bar and high-speed internet, while the upmarket Chaffers Studios are located in the residential wing of the hotel and enjoy views over Chaffers Dock and the harbour.

The Museum Hotel is at 90 Cable Street, Wellington. Phone +64 4 802 8900. 




  • Sydney (NSW)
  • Wellington (NZ)
  • Brisbane and Scenic Rim (including Mt Cotton) (QLD)
  • Hobart (TAS)
  • Melbourne (VIC)
  • Perth (WA)

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March 30th, 2011
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