Close to Brisbane’s most famous sporting and event venue, Suncorp Stadium, Gambaro Hotel boasts one of the most enviable positions in the city. It’s far-enough away from crowds – both local and tourist – even with it being in the thick of bustling Caxton Street, while still being conveniently located just a stone’s throw from the well-connected Roma Street Station, Palace Cinema, the bare-essentials (though it does have a nice tapas and wine bar) Barracks precinct and a good selection of the area’s finest gastropubs and hipster haunts.
Then, of course, you have the fact that it’s built above the famed Gambaro Seafood Restaurant, a dining institution that has been operating since 1974. It’s a hospitality empire for sure, and all those years delivering world-class service to Brisbane’s discerning dining crowd has created a certain high standard for the Gambaro family; a standard that’s well met by this exceptional boutique hotel.
The five-star property opened above the family’s multi award-winning seafood restaurant in 2014, a big deal for Brisbane seeing as it was the city’s first new-build luxury hotel in a whopping seven years. Just 68 rooms are spread across four levels, taking full advantage of all the benefits that come with being a neatly trimmed boutique hotel – being that special attention is given to smaller details which often end up making all the difference between a comfortable-enough stay, and one that is truly exceptional. This leans towards the latter, offering accommodations which have obviously been designed with as much care and precision as possible, from each guest room’s well-insulated balcony doors (even going so far as to insulate the pipes) to the expensive-looking bathrooms and the custom-designed bed with ultra premium linens that are light, breathable and warm.
This is a family that knows first impressions last. The purple-carpeted hallways feel royal and look exquisite and give a heady regal character to the guest experience. That palatial aesthetic is juxtaposed with modern art, including a unique installation of three columns cascading down above the atrium, able to be seen through a glass window. It’s especially striking at night as surrounding the columns are schools of floating, illuminated silver fish.
The guest room is beautifully appointed, large and spacious with an exceedingly comfortable custom designed bed featuring premium linens that are light, breathable and warm. It features a stylish en-suite bathroom that looks like an expensive fit-out and, while the size is modest, it’s obvious just as much care has gone into this than any other area in the hotel. The enormous rainfall shower is lush and what one would usually expect from a property of this repute. A range of luxurious Appelles products are included in each bathroom.
It’s clear that this hotel is popular amongst business travelers, with extra attention given to connectivity and convenience. WiFi is excellent and the signal is strong even outside of the hotel, while just about every connection one would need is provided on the elegant working desk, which is illuminated during the day with plenty of natural light pouring in from the balcony.
Privacy was obviously a primary concern during the design of these rooms. Everything from the balcony doors to the walls of the room are well-insulated, with as much silence as guests could possibly want in the rooms, even at night when Caxton Street comes alive. Of course the balcony being so far back from the front of the building helps, and rather than letting the distance affect any aesthetic value the designers have cleverly turned the rooftop into an all-white pebble garden so taking in that Brisbane city view comes with its own unique spectacle.
Endless acclaim surrounds Gambaro Seafood Restaurant itself, a sophisticated and intimate restaurant that prides itself on offering the best seafood in the city. Like all dining institutions, there’s a sharp commitment to their regular clientele’s tastes and a demand to keep certain dishes on the menu that have become favourites for the masses. I don’t think I could ever go back and be content it the Balmain Bug wasn’t on the menu; an essential order with several juicy, thick and plump local bugs making up a generous serving. Most restaurants serve bug in the shell, with barely enough meat to justify the price. In this case, the cost is well-worth it for those who like seafood with rich palates.
That the oysters are fresh and delicious are no surprise, neither is the extensive and beautifully selected wine list. Wine is something the Gambaro brothers obviously take very seriously, evidenced by a beautiful, narrow glass-encased cellar near the restaurant’s reception area. The hotel’s a la carte breakfast also takes place here, albeit out front with seating sprawled out on the light and breezy porch; although it’s fairly limited for choice, the big hearty breakfast hits all the right spots.
The benefit of having a boutique hotel so pared back in volume is the focus placed upon the smaller details, the ones that usually make the biggest difference between a comfortable-enough stay and a superlative one. Gambaro is a testament to that, reiterating to unique place carved out for boutiques in the ferociously competitive market of luxury accommodation.
Address: 33 Caxton St, Petrie Terrace QLD 4000
Contact: (07) 3369 9500
The writer stayed one night as a guest of Gambaro Hotel.