TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel, Brisbane, is the Queensland capital’s only street art hotel. The site where the hotel now sits was once an underground haven for street artists. When it was finally developed in 2014, four of the original artists were invited back on site to feature their artwork throughout the hotel. The artists Numskull, Fintan Magee, Rone and Beastman have all since become world acclaimed. Each was given a different floor of the hotel to work on and they collaborated in the common areas. Their works are also featured in other design elements, including the wallpaper.
Staff at TRYP Fortitude Valley pride themselves on having local knowledge about the best eats, beats and events in the city. The street art hotel is nationally renowned for supporting Brisbane’s most innovative creative events and, considering the brand’s tag line of Own the City, plugging into city events and making guests feel at home is part of the hotel’s attraction.
While every staff member at TRYP Fortitude Valley has the local knowledge of a concierge, arguably the one most expert at selecting the best experiences around the city is Alexander Thomas. Alex has learnt from the best in the business and has formerly served as a Concierge Coordinator at one of Australia’s most famous five-star hotels, the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast.
1. WHAT IS BRISBANE’S ‘BEST KEPT SECRET’?
Greaser Bar in Fortitude Valley. Our guests wouldn’t even know it was there unless we told them – it couldn’t be hidden better from the street. The only sign of its existence is a discreet security guard standing outside a Chemist Warehouse advertisement on a Brunswick Street garage. Once you’ve shown your ID and walked down the laneway, the candlelit rooms and beat music of Greaser Bar will make you feel as if you have fallen into a rave in Paris’ Catacombs. Featuring an extensive drinks menu and American-style food like buttermilk-fried chicken wings, hot dogs and Angus beef burgers, this place is a must-visit any night from Thursday to Sunday.
2. IF A FRIEND CAME TO TOWN FOR A DAY, WHAT IS THE ONE ‘MUST DO EXPERIENCE’ YOU’D RECOMMEND?
I would recommend Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art – it’s a personal favourite of mine. Brisbane takes its art seriously and this gallery features exhibitions from around the world. It currently boasts the Asia-Pacific Triennial, a cross-cultural delight featuring live action, video, kinetic art, painting and sculpture, which has already welcomed 605,000 visitors. With a full cinema and bookstore in the building, you are spoiled for choice!
3. BEST PLACE FOR A ROMANTIC DATE?
Brisbane has plenty of entertainment that is affordable (and sometimes free) and everything is accessible by public transport. With that in mind…
Step 1: Organise a picnic hamper from Brisbane’s fantastic fine consumables store Malt Traders.
Step 2: Make sure it’s a Sunday. Head over to the Green at Southbank’s River Quay for some relaxing light music and enjoy your picnic in the sun!
Step 3: Take a leisurely stroll along the river at Southbank to the ferry terminal.
Step 4: Ride a free Brisbane CityHopper Ferry (one leaves every 30 minutes) to Eagle Street Pier and time it so you can see the Brisbane city skyline while the sun sets.
Step 5: Finish up at the Blackbird Bar & Grill, where you can indulge in dishes from one of Brisbane’s finest Australian fusion restaurants, or enjoy a cocktail from one of their world-class bartenders. The breathtaking views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge at night will also help set the mood!
4. BEST DINING EXPERIENCE?
Bacchus Southbank ‘Sommeliers Experience’ seven-course degustation. I would even venture to say it is one of Australia’s finest dining experiences. The menu features the finest seafood, duck and venison, before concluding with the most decadent desserts. Importantly, Head Sommelier, Andrew Giblin, will take you on a locomotive journey of flavour with his handpicked selection of wines. The elegant, modern décor is the perfect setting to enhance the gourmet experience.
5. BEST PLACE FOR A LATE SNACK AFTER A NIGHT ON THE TOWN?
If you’re ending the night in Fortitude Valley (and many people do), you have options to choose from! The best solutions for a late snack are on Brunswick Street – from 5 dogs vegan hotdogs to Go Greek Kafé’s late night Greek yiros. If you are in the city itself and need a midnight feed, the best place to visit is Brisbane’s Pancake Manor: a repurposed church serving maple-soaked delights all night!
6. BEST SHOPPING PRECINCT?
It all depends what you’re shopping for! Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley famously has a fine standard of boutique shopping in our laneways and streets: Bakery Lane, Winn Lane and James Street. Fashion labels like House of Cards and Blonde Venus share street space with locally owned record stores like A Love Supreme and music stores including Tym Guitars. Brisbane also boasts a great range of Australian homewares (St. Barts) and body care product shops (Aesop). If you’re after the mainstream brands or a place where you can shop all day, hop on a bus to the Queen Street Mall in the nearby City Centre.
7. BEST PLACE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE AS A BRISBANE LOCAL?
Life as a local in Brisbane is generally relaxed, but when we want to get our blood flowing, we head over to Caxton Street in Paddington. Start off at Brew Café & Wine Bar and try some of Queensland’s finest craft beer and snack food, then muscle up and head over to Lefty’s Oldtime Music Hall and get yourself a whisky apple – flavoursome house bourbon whiskey mixed with their famed homemade apple juice. Stick around for a live rockabilly set. Once you are inspired enough to start your own musical career, Casablancas has live karaoke in their front room for anyone brave enough to pull out some Roxy Music. Alternatively, you can watch the night roll by from the heart of Fortitude Valley at Up on Constance, the rooftop bar at TRYP Fortitude Valley. One of Brisbane’s most iconic nightspots, it offers chef-prepared tapas and an extensive range of drinks including signature cocktails.
8. BEST WAY TO GET AROUND TOWN?
Grab a Go Card from any 7-Eleven service station or train station and jump on our public transport. The card works if you’re ferrying across the river, training it anywhere in the city centre or catching a bus to anywhere else.
9. BEST DAY TRIP?
North Stradbroke Island – it’s South East Queensland’s closest thing to the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re using public transport (see above), it’s a simple train ride from Central Station or Roma Street to Cleveland (about $10), a bus to the ferry terminal, then a relaxing ferry trip to this summer wonderland. This island is rich in indigenous culture, so make sure you visit the museums and art galleries to immerse yourself in the nation’s history. Head to Amity Point or you can round the island to Point Lookout, then enjoy the local fish and chips after a long swim in the aqua blue water.
10. BEST WAY TO RELAX?
Start your day refreshed with Harlow Hot Yoga & Pilates as the sun rises. Then head over to the Endota Spa at James Street to enjoy one of their packages, which range from two hours to four hours. You’ll feel like a new person and be ready to take on whatever Brisbane has to offer!
ABOUT ALEXANDER THOMAS
Alexander started working in hotels as a porter at the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast in 2013. He quickly worked his way up to become a Concierge Coordinator. In his roles at the hotel, he came to understand what went into making guests’ holiday experiences unforgettable and the importance of local knowledge and impeccable service.
Alexander learnt skills as a concierge from the best of the best: concierges who were members of the Les Clef d’Or, an elite professional organisation of concierges worldwide.
Since then, Alex has decided to take a change in direction. He took some time off touring Europe in a band and, upon returning to Brisbane, took a job at TRYP Fortitude Valley while he completes a Bachelor of Psychology. With the team at TRYP, he delivers outstanding personalised service and ensures he gets around Brisbane so he can give the best local knowledge to guests.