Sage Hotel James Street, Fortitude Valley
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An antidote to glitzy hospitality, Sage Hotel James Street engaged some of the country’s best-known names to create its contemporary boutique space. Dinosaur Designs jewellery pieces can be found on the hotel staff (and littered around the crisp, sleek rooms) and plush, innovative MOKUM fabrics are in every room. Another hint of its modern lean? The soothing abundance of polished concrete.
The Alex Hotel, Perth
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The slightly askew jade-green tiles at the hotel’s entrance should give some indication to passers-by of just how image conscious this Northbridge hotel is. Spacious, light and relaxed, the “home away from home” ethos has been captured in every aspect of The Alex, from the tapestry-touched communal spaces to the fixie bikes ready for visitors to borrow. Design dash comes in the sudden burst of colour from a mustard velvet couch or a busy terrazzo dining table.
Paramount House Hotel, Sydney
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In step with the very hip surrounds of Surry Hills, this new hotel wastes no time welcoming a very design-conscious crowd into its fold. The exterior – a mismatch of copper tiles – does some of the talking and the lofty lobby finishes the conversation. The crushed linen sheets and Japanese-style blackbutt timber deep soaking tubs in the Mack Daddy and Loft suites eliminate the need for talking altogether.
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Yes, it may be a chink in a hotel chain but QT Melbourne offers more than enough to distinguish it from its partners. Custom-created artwork is everywhere and bold, distinctive furniture denies the cookie-cutter hotel eye that often follows a chain outpost. (The Yves Klein Blue “Coitus Interruptus” chaise was one such commissioned piece). Don’t forget the towering six-metre copper door that welcomes guests, either.
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Dubbed as Australia’s “first storytelling hotel”, each of the 114 rooms of this waterfront property are carefully created in the image of a notable Tasmanian, breathing life and character into the design. Not only are the rooms instilled with Tasmanian history, there are tangible features that make it modern, too. Legally blind lighting designer Duncan Meerding has hung his timber creations from selected ceilings and bedheads are crafted by designer Troy Ruffels.
COMO The Treasury, Perth
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The grand, 19th-century state buildings this luxury hotel is housed in belies its contemporary interiors. But who doesn’t like surprises? On the inside, guests are greeted with handcrafted European furnishings, including deep-form Kaldewei Duo bathtubs all the way from Germany for those serious about unwinding.
The Olsen, Melbourne
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The expressive eye of revered Australian artist Dr. John Olsen takes centre stage at this St. Kilda stay, with sculpture and canvas pieces dotted proudly around the establishment. The Newcastle creator, who secured national treasure status thanks to awards such as the Archibald Prize in 2005 and an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1977, lends the high-rise colourful whimsy with his light, bright landscapes, bringing a little of the Australian bush into this urban space.
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The Old Clare Hotel, Sydney
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While the transformation to a 62-room heritage-feel boutique hotel in Chippendale is well and truly complete, it’s the hints of the hotel’s former life as an Art-Deco pub and Victorian Carlton United Brewery that give this refurbished property true character. As well as the original wooden checkerboard floors and exposed brick walls – a favourite of the loft-loving millennial – there are more subtle markers of serious design cred: a phone booth art installation by Corinne Felgate that serenades the curious with poems narrated by Australian actors, for example.
Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island
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Unsurprisingly, this stunning hotel in Kangaroo Island’s south-west corner lets the wind-whipped surrounds do much of the decorating talk via expansive windows but there are plenty of local touches that also help create a sense of place. Recycled timbers punctuate the space, as do white limestone floors and limestone wall sculptures throughout the lodge and details from late Australian wallpaper designer Florence Broadhurst help give the clean aesthetic interest.
The Franklin, Adelaide
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Atop a corner pub, it might seem unassuming to a thirsty punter but the boutique offering of The Franklin in Adelaide’s CBD is more than your average watering-hole stay. Midnight-black walls, crisp subway-tiled bathrooms and a selection of quirky artwork are the hallmarks of this hotel. The original federation style façade (and perfectly preserved windows) retain a glimpse of its colourful past.
Ovolo Nishi, Canberra
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Dazzling design permeates every nook and cranny of New Acton’s Ovolo Nishi. Its grand staircase entrance – a tunnel of expertly splintered shards of reclaimed timber – is the opus to which the rest of the carefully curated space echoes, with an array of wood, clay and textured materials making each of the 68 rooms feel effortlessly cosy. Each suite features a different mix of moody artwork and furniture commissions but venture outside and you’ll be easily absorbed into this vertical village of cinemas, art-focused cafés and bars.