With a raft of new luxury rooms, chic urban upgrades, hip restaurants and a new direct flight from the UK, Perth is emerging from the shadow of Melbourne and Sydney
Behind the preserved 1897 facade of The Melbourne Hotel sits a modern boutique hotel that’s indicative of the meteoric changes Australia’s most remote city has been undergoing.
Completed in April, the AUS$40 million hotel includes the first Keisuke in Australia (for ramen lovers); Hattendo, known for its Japanese cream buns; and Grand Orient, famous for Cantonese food.
The project also includes a restoration of the Old Melbourne pub, reborn as De Baun & Co. As well as 22 beautiful heritage rooms in the original building, there are 51 new rooms and the Aurora rooftop lounge.
Perth’s developments can also be more easily explored these days thanks to Qantas’s launch of the first direct flight between Europe and Australia earlier this year, which now connects Heathrow and Perth in 17 hours via its service on Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Travellers might try the just-opened Westin Perth, with 368 rooms, a wellness level with outdoor infinity pool and spa by Western Australian brand Bodhi J. And still to come in 2019 is the 204-room Ritz-Carlton Perth, the group’s first Australian property in 10 years. The hotel sits in Elizabeth Quay, an extensive development that opened in 2016 and connects Perth’s central business district to the Swan river.
This area will also see the opening of The New Esplanade Hotel, being built on the site of the former Esplanade Hotel, later this year, with the old hotel being elevated into an 80-room property with rooftop bar.
These hotels follow on the heels of arrivals such as Como The Treasury (pictured above). In 2015, it sparked the high-end hospitality revolution with its 48 rooms across three interconnected historic buildings.
The hotel is within the wider State Buildings project, which has seen the transformation of a city landmark previously used as a seat of government, post office and treasury. The hotel’s restaurant is Wildflower, which bases its menu on the six seasons of the indigenous Noongar people and their diet. Inside the same complex is Long Chim, a restaurant that marked a return to Australia for chef David Thompson (pictured below).
The city also added Crown Towers in 2016 which is the most expensive hotel ever constructed in Australia. Set just outside the city, the resort is split into three hotels, including the most luxurious – the 500-room Crown Towers – and boasts 39 restaurants and bars including Nobu and Rockpool.
Back downtown, the 240-room InterContinental Perth City Centre opened in October in the King Street Precinct, home to a mix of heritage buildings and luxury retailers. Dining choices include Heno & Rey, a slick Aussie-Spanish take on a tapas bar that spills out onto Hay and King Streets.
Foodies are spoilt for choice in Perth, with more restaurants per capita than any other capital city in Australia. Ones to watch include The Standard for a wide-ranging menu enjoyed on the rooftop; Gazette in the cool Print Hall development on Brookfield Place; and Sentinel, which has a New York vibe combined with a focus on European food.
Behind Perth’s main streets are hidden bars in laneways such as Helvetica, which prides itself on its whiskies. And some of the best bars are purposefully tough to find, such as Sneaky Pete’s, a speakeasy hidden behind a mysterious door somewhere in Chinatown, Northbridge and home to around 300 rums.
The most recent civic project is the impressive AUS$73.5 million Yagan Square, which has removed the barrier between the CBD and the Northbridge area for the first time in 100 years with a new pedestrianised area.
And all that – before you’ve even considered the wider attractions of Western Australia, from the vineyards of Margaret River region to the wilderness of The Kimberley.
A roam around the 400 acres of Kings Park is a must. You’re never far from a lung-cleansing vista, green space or beach in Perth, but this park sits on Mount Eliza, so awesome views are assured.