Brisbane’s Rydges Fortitude Valley is your new best friend if you love going to festivals, events and conferences, or – if you’re at all like me – holing up and hiding away from the rest of the world.
The new 208-room hotel sits within the rapidly evolving Brisbane Showgrounds precinct. It will be a gateway to the famed Ekka when it comes to town in August and is right across the road from the Royal International Convention Centre. It’s just up the street from the renowned Tivoli music venue and a hop, skip and a jump from Fortitude Valley’s thumping nightlife.
For the business traveller, it’s close to the airport, the CBD, the convention facilities, and it has three flexible meeting rooms of its own, plus free Wi-Fi for all guests.
The hotel has created the perfect blend of country warmth and city slickness. Everything is brand, spanking new, and the rooms are like a warm, quiet hug.
Decorated in darker tones, they offer disarming touches, such as the sheep, duck and cow cushions that adorn the beds – a nod to the area’s agricultural connection – and pictures on the walls of Ekkas in days gone by. (For the uninitiated, the Ekka is the annual Royal Queensland Show, run in different incarnations since 1876 by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland, or RNA.)
The beds have more pillows than you could ever hope for and the bathrooms are a soothing spot filled with Sanctum products.
If you do venture out of your room, the Six Acres restaurant continues the agricultural theme, with a farm-to-table ethos using authentic, simple fare with a modern twist, under the guidance of executive chef Francesco Trucco.
The risotto ‘carnaroli’ – featuring beef cheeks, creme fraiche gremolata, grana padano wafer and micro herbs – was outstanding but very rich (they did warn me), putting paid to my dreams of dessert. For the beef lovers, there’s a small but perfect menu of cuts sourced mainly from Gympie and the Darling Downs, rubbed with aromatic salt, pepper and thyme, with roasted potatoes or mash. The pan-fried Hervey Bay scallops were a hit among my group, as well.
The restaurant makes a beaut spot for breakfast, too, with a quality buffet and cold-pressed juices. You can work off the calories in the hotel’s fully equipped gym or heated outdoor pool.
If it’s a drink you’re after, look no further than the hotel’s Paddock Bar, where the staff are helpful and knowledgeable – they know all there is to know about espresso martinis. Take your drink out underneath the big fig tree, one of several that have been carefully preserved during the area’s redevelopment.
If you do venture out of the hotel, a key part of the $2.9 billion revamp is the new cafe and retail strip of King Street, which will also feature New York-style produce markets. Meanwhile, the Showgrounds have hosted all manner of events on top of the Ekka, from SupaNova to the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, so you won’t be short of things to do.
Rydges Fortitude Valley general manager Matthew Hurley said: “The hotel’s positioning within the Showgrounds precinct and opposite the Royal International Convention Centre lends unique appeal to guests wishing to stay and soak up the atmosphere at the many events and festivals held in the district throughout the year.”
Me? I think I’ll sink back into those pillows and happily hide away from the world.