Giovanibaptista Gambaro arrived in Brisbane from Calabria, Italy, and in 1953 set up a fish and chip shop in Caxton Street. Little did he realise that one day his grandchildren would establish what I would say is Brisbane’s finest five-star hotel, just across the road from the original fish and chip shop (the Gambaro-owned Black Hide restaurant counter is in the exact same spot as the original fish and chip counter).
The Gambaro is far from a predictable five-star establishment. It is, instead, a stylish, yet welcoming four-storey gem – offering a more personal boutique hotel experience, in addition to expected 24-hour services. The location is brilliant – just 15-20 minutes from Brisbane’s thriving CBD, in a great food, bar and music precinct. It’s also just a short walk from Brisbane’s Suncorp sports stadium at Lang Park.
But best of all, it is located adjacent to Gambaro Seafood Restaurant – Australia’s best seafood restaurant, according to Best in AU. Established by the family in 1974, it is Brisbane’s oldest and arguably most well-loved and highly acclaimed eatery. Now with former Rockpool chef Lukas McEwen at the helm, mud crab, green lobster, Moreton Bay bugs and Tasmanian oysters top the menu. The seafood platter is a favourite with families, who have been coming here for years. I opt for an entrée-size crumbed seafood dish, which is beyond delicious and very affordable. Meat eaters are not forgotten – across the road is the Black Hide steak house, also an award-winning eatery. And next door, the MG bar is great for casual snacks and drinks.
Room 405 is on the top floor, with a balcony overlooking the hilly suburbs beyond. It is simply divine. Many hotels boast ultra-stylish décor, but the true skill is to combine the stylish with comfort and warmth. This is what the Gambaro family do so well, with quirky wall art, brightly coloured accents in pillows, cushions and a seriously comfortable recliner chair with footstool.
I need to stay here a week, not a night, to enjoy everything on offer. Determined to make the most of my time, I don a bathrobe and start to explore. The king-sized bed has all the mod cons including an iPhone dock and every remote known to mankind to control airflow, temperature and TV. I idly wonder if it also pours a drink from the mini bar. And, of course, there is a pillow menu.
The generously proportioned bathroom, a sea of grey and white marble, is discretely screened by high wooden shutters. Pampering is assured with a generous range of ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable MOR toiletries.
Writers, poets, dreamers – and the rest of us who work for a living – will appreciate the full-size desk and ample lighting. And for distraction, the large screen TV offers plenty of entertainment options.
Breakfast is buffet style, served in a bar on the ground floor. The service is old-fashioned – aka good – and the barista creates lattes so good I order a second.
I’m told that the Sunset Lounge on level three is renowned for its views at sunset, so I make a mental note to return in summer, for longer, so I can really enjoy everything that this special hotel – and Brisbane – have to offer.
The Gambaro Hotel is part of the TFE Hotels Collection of properties – recently awarded five stars by Star Rating Australia and a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
Hotel Name: Gambaro Hotel
Rates: From $134.25 a night. Check the website for seasonal specials and deals.
Our pick: Gambaro Luxury Experience package: Stay in a Petrie Room for $249 per night and enjoy:
- bottle of wine on arrival
- $100 dining credit at Gambaro Seafood Restaurant
- high-speed internet
- 12.30pm late check-out.
Wandering around West End and South Bank
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