Hotel Review: Tatler Checks Into... The Calile Hotel Brisbane
Standing on the balcony of my hotel room, I overlook the turquoise 30-metre-pool below. It's lined with cabanas, palm trees and turquoise-and-white pool brollies hovering over sun decks. It's a scene that will not look out of place in Miami or Palm Springs.
I’m at the ultra-hip Calile Hotel (pronounced “Kal-Isle”), that’s made for the ’gram. Just opened in October this year, the photogenic property is the oasis of relaxed cool in the city of Brisbane. This once-sleepy neighbour of touristy Gold Coast is having its moment in the sun—on the Sunshine Coast, no less—with hip hotels sprouting up all over. But I suspect I've stumbled on the coolest one.
1/5 First Impressions
I find out that the Calile Hotel was built as an urban resort, inspired by other warm-weathered cities, and with a goal to embrace the sub-tropical Brisbane climate. The seasons are mild: Winters don’t drop below 11 °C, and summers hover around 30 °C. I visited the hotel two weeks after it opened in October, so it was the end of Spring and a perfect 20 °C.
Don’t expect dark-carpeted lift lobbies; this isn't your usual hotel. Instead, find a large open-air space, that allows breeze and natural light to flow through the corridors that are populated with oversized pots of plants. Even the exposed brick walls are made of “breeze blocks” with a semi-circle punched out of each brick for air-flow.
The sub-tropical sensibilities continue in all the 175 rooms in the hotel. Despite it being a hotel in the middle of city, I felt like I was in a resort by the ocean. In my own suite, I made a very un-Singaporean move: I often had the air-conditioning switched off. The sense of openness was lovely: There are no walls between the bathroom and the bedroom, only sliding panels—and I would leave them open, allowing me a glimpse of the pool as I get ready in the morning.
2/5 Do Not Disturb
I am weak before a colour palette of brushed brass, cork, aqua and blush. And lucky me: it’s reflected in every element of the hotel, from the lobby bar to spa and the room. The counter in The Lobby Bar is a beautiful pink marble, a material that is used again in the suite’s petite bar cabinet.
Along with the hues, the circle motif (in arcs and spheres) echoes throughout too. The hotel lobby’s light accents are spherical; in the hotel room, there are curved archways and glowing lights balls that rest on matte gold semi-circle fittings. Devil’s in the details and The Calile Hotel’s design savviness shines through. Its bath amenities are from ultra-cool beauty brand Grown Alchemist, linen robes designed by Venroy and the bath salts by Addition Studios.
3/5 The Extras
There’s nothing that sets the mood like music and the Calile soundtrack permeates the entire hotel. In each room, the TV is tuned in to the hotel’s very own MTV-esque channel, that has an eclectic but thoughtfully-curated edit of tunes that fits perfectly with the mood of the property: I heard everything from Erykah Badu and Red Hot Chilli Peppers to an acoustic version of Bieber’s Love Yourself.
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The wellness facilities include Kailo Wellness Medispa (created by spa specialist Meaghan South) and Forme Fitness (by fitness expert Tristian Forbes) reflect the sensibilities of the hotel as well. Unwind completely in one of stylish Kailo’s spa wellness pods, suitable for any customised treatment—be it a skin medical session or a body massage.
4/5 Food & Drink
There are two dining venues within The Calile Hotel: The Lobby Bar, and an outpost of the award-winning Greek restaurant Hellenika by Simon Gloftis (which first opened in Gold Coast).
We skipped Greek cuisine and headed straight to The Lobby Bar. Despite its casual name, it is an actual restaurant, with an all-day menu. But perhaps the reason for its moniker is its pièce de résistance—the wrap-around bar that is made of a chunk of decadent pink marble, a nice juxtaposition with the rest of the restaurant's sunlight-drenched interior. The food is delicious, casual but presented with an elevated elegance, and features modern Australian cuisine spiked with Japanese influences.
Service was excellent and generous; on the first day when I checked in, I headed down to order a takeaway iced mocha. When they found out I was a guest, it was simply put on the house.
5/5 Tatler Tip
The one thing I was glad I did, was to put aside an entire day to simply stay in and explore the James Street neighbourhood. It’s a fashion playground; there’re Australian retail boutiques at the hotel's doorstep on ground level: Dion Lee, Bec & Bridge, Camilla & Marc, Venroy, Love Stories, Carla Zampatti, Calexico Man, Andronis Jewellery and Bassike, the brand that is also behind the hotel staff's hip uniforms.
Stock up on your Aesop favourites at its boutique just a couple of steps away. I also was excited that West Elm and Pottery Barn were just next door. There is an equally chic supermarket, the James Street Market, with a casual Japanese eatery just metres away too. Coming up next is its laneway dining precinct, Ada Lane.
Beyond the street corner of 48 James Street, the James Street enclave has over 130 boutiques, design shops and dining options that I discover on my day in. As I explored the hotel, I even found a sign that said “M.O.S.T—Museum of Small Things”, and opened the mysterious door next to it. Well, I didn't expect to see what lidy behind it; and I certainly surprised and amused. But to find out, you’ll just have to pay the hotel a visit.