Some of our top hotels are emerging from their enforced hibernation as stunningly revamped, art-filled, high-tech city stays.
The late Peter Allen’s catchy hit, “Everything Old is New Again”, is the backing track to a string of shiny refurbished hotels that are turning heads and have great tales to tell.
Millions of dollars have been splashed on creating new looks while preserving heritage buildings and writing a new history.
When it comes to hotel rooms, it’s all about sharp design and sleek decor with dedicated work areas – a far cry from the humble work desk juggling a tangle of power cords. Lighting is flattering for Zoom meetings, power outlets are high tech and check-in is contactless.
Colours are subtle or bold; dining areas consider social-distancing; and local artworks reflect the stories of their “hoods”. Hotels are more about lifestyles and beckon the community to come in.
Parmelia Hilton Perth
Fresh from a $45 million makeover, this iconic hotel was Perth’s first five-star bolthole – it opened in 1968 with 141 rooms, four penthouses and a Royal suite.
It was named after the Parmelia, which in 1829 sailed from England to Perth with 150 men, women and children aboard. Room tariffs were “expensive” at $21 for a standard room or a two-night special for $24.
As John Paul Young was singing “Love is in the Air” in the late 1970s, mining deals were often sealed and smashed in the mining boom heydays.
According to locals, Adelphi Steak House was the best and there was a constant stream of politicians, stars, business leaders and holidaymakers at the “Parmie”.
Doorman Dan McFee recalls entertainer Johnny O’Keefe belting out a number and “Alan Bond and [Robert] Holmes à Court used to rock up in their Rolls-Royces and the tips from international A-listers were pretty hefty in those days”, he recalled.
Fast-forward to today and the new look lobby is warm and inviting. Five-metre-wide installation The Spirit Within, which took artist Leon Pericles 10 months to create, showcases the state’s history from early settlement to the present.
The sleek brasserie Samuels on Mill is impressive and run by chef Chad Miskiewicz, who has been an epicurean innovator since 1998. Fresh regional produce features in his innovative menu and the gnocchi with sage brown butter and walnuts is a stand-out.
The fabulous renovation includes digital key smartphone check-in, bypassing the front desk, and there’s a new hotel thoroughfare to Brookfield Place shopping centre, part of the City of Perth’s laneway revitalisation strategy.
The chic fresh-look rooms have subtle lighting and their marble, timber, wool and leather features are balanced with bronze metals and glazing. It’s all about colour, texture and detail with loads of natural light.
It’s a great revamp that’s a fitting tribute to the heady mining days when many were flash with cash and not afraid to splash it.
Explore more: perth.hilton.com
Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane
In a sea of new hotels in the river city, this stunning flagship property combines heritage features with contemporary apartments, many with Brisbane River views.
Built in the early 1900s it was Brisbane’s first high-rise government office building, one of the city’s tallest buildings and the first steel-framed building in the city. It took nine years to build due to material shortages during World War I.
Today, as well as 220 rooms and suites, it’s evident the restoration process has paid tribute to the building’s history and impressive architecture. An addition atop this Heritage-listed former Queensland Government Savings Bank building adds an extra five levels, which are designed to complement the historic building with expansive views and balconies.
Step inside and you’ll find the original timber walls and marble checkerboard floors. Look up to see the ornate ceiling roses from the original banking hall.
The chic Donna Chang restaurant gives a gentle nod to Sichuan flavours and authentic Cantonese cuisine, and the original vault doors feature in the Boom Boom Room cocktail bar which draws inspiration from bygone musical eras and soulful acoustics.
Explore more: adinahotels.com
Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street
In Melbourne, there’s a sense of the grand glamour days of travel when you step through the doors of the reimagined historic Equity Chambers building, which is now a stylish hotel.
Built in 1931, it has long been recognised for its architectural pizzazz and Italian Romanesque and Gothic detailing. Restored original features seamlessly connect to a
six-level extension with a 16-level tower.
The hotel features 244 rooms and 10 suites, with a stylish rooftop terrace and club lounge, bar and restaurant. Within its historic walls, the old and new have been cleverly combined, with sandstone, European oak and bronze materials.
A colourful large-scale mural by local graffiti artist Kitt Bennett is captured in the entrance’s angled bronze panels.
Luci, the contemporary Australian restaurant, gives a nod to Melbourne’s early Italian immigrants, while the Douglas Club adds the 1930s glamour with some fabulous cocktails.
Names of employees on the original office doors remain, plus artefact display cases pay tribute to the history of the site.
Explore more: melbournelittlequeenstreet.hilton.com
Next on the cards
The InterContinental Adelaide, one of the city’s landmark luxury hotels, will be getting a $32 million refurbishment.
The transformative redesign will include all 367 guestrooms and suites; upgrades to event spaces; a refreshed restaurant and bar; enhancements to its award-winning Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, Shiki; and a new Club Lounge space. It will also mean a revamp to the hotel’s entrance, lobby, hallways and lifts.
Notable past guests have included The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and the Australian and Indian cricket teams.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall welcomed the news, saying the refurbishment would add a valuable option for the state’s tourism, events and business sectors.
“It is a terrific vote of confidence in South Australia – and in our tourism and business credentials. We’ve already seen record occupancy in regional SA, and the highest occupancy in the CBD since the pandemic began, so today’s announcement adds further weight to the importance of continuing to evolve and innovate,” he said.
The hotel will remain open throughout and is expected to be completed in 2023.