Nikki Preston checks into Ovolo The Valley in Brisbane.
A 20-minute Uber from Brisbane Airport costs $30. You could also take the Airtrain from Brisbane International Airport, get off at Fortitude Valley St and walk to Wickham St bus stop 229. Take the number 60 bus to stop 7 at Wickham St and the hotel is right there.
Check-in experience: Friendly and efficient. I arrived on the hotel’s launch night, so once I squeezed through the throngs of people sipping champagne outside, I was quickly checked in and directed to my room. Another staff member helping with the launch even hit the button on the lift for me. Staff I passed on my way up were all very friendly.
Room: Level 4. Room 414. This is not your average stark hotel room. Bright floral art hangs on the wall, ornaments with words such as “fun” give it a more homely feel and a friendly note with a tower of a macarons was left on the table as a welcome gift. There’s also a loot bag filled with snacks in case you get the munchies. An iPad connects guests with reception and room service. Very modern and funky decor.
The bed: A comfy king. Ovolo is so passionate about its bed it even leaves a note with details about the Sealy Posturepedic Dynasty bed, superior thread count linen and down bedding you’re sleeping on.
What’s so good about this place: It’s unique style and character. The decor, staff uniforms and friendly young faces make it a fun place to stay. It’s a technology savvy hotel with all the hotel details stored on the iPad and a buttons to push if you want them to make your bed or do not want to be disturbed. It’s also within walking distance of Brisbane’s must-sees.
And the bad: If you’re not that technically savvy it might take you a while to work out how to turn on all the different devices and lights, including finding the master switch for the room. You might need your sunglasses for the bright carpet in the hotel’s hallways and the retro peach walls.
Toiletries: Large bottles of Australian-made Biology shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand wash and body lotion. Premium product, but there’s no way these products, securely attached to the wall, will be going home with you.
Bathroom: Luxurious. His and hers free standing sinks surrounded by grey and white marble, large shower and a separate bath for soaking in. Large mirrors including a separate make-up mirror with light.
Food and drink: There’s a free mini bar stocked with a small bottle of red and white wine, two beers, sparkling water, coke and apple juice and loot bag with chips, chocolate, bar, Tim Tam, nuts and a lollipop. The onsite cafe Societe is a cute French patisserie that’s reasonably priced and the hotel is surrounded by an abundance of bars and restaurants.
The nearby Honto Japanese restaurant, hidden in a little alley behind the Wickham Hotel in Alden St, is definitely worth a try. It’s discreet position suits the moody black decor, offset with bright chandeliers and good vibes. Honto’s bar holds the biggest range of Japanese whiskeys outside Japan. Seated around the raw bar in the main dining room, I enjoyed watching the Japanese chefs create masterpieces of salmon, tuna, oysters, scallops and wagyu beef with flower-styled garnishes that wouldn’t be out of place in an art gallery. I tried a selection from the menu and it was all faultless.
My waiter’s impressive knowledge of the menu did not give away the fact that he had only worked there for two weeks, and he was friendly and efficient. Service was swift and the food was amazing. I’m already trying to work out how to get back there for more wagyu tartare and the crumbed chicken roll. Macerated strawberries and icy plum sorbet with barbecued cinnamon meringue completed the meal perfectly.
A room with a view: Room 414 overlooked Fortitude Valley’s Harvey Norman and there was a hill adorned with palm trees in the distance. But the sun was shining in and the sky was blue, blue, blue.
Free Wi-Fi: Yes, in abundance. No password required. Chromecast to the TV, use the Amazon Echo and the iPad provided.
Exercise: There’s a small gym, but the rooftop plunge pool looks far more enticing in the Brisbane heat. There’s also a sauna or you can just head outside and sweat it out. Guests have free access to a nearby gym.
What’s in the neighbourhood: Located in Fortitude Valley, it’s right in the middle of Brisbane’s bustling nightlife. Just outside is the Emporium retail and dining precinct. The Valley is about a 25-minute walk from the CBD, including the popular Queen Street Mall, which is probably a little too far after a successful shopping spree.
Value for money: Who can resist freebies and they certainly don’t scrimp.