The views from the north-east balconies of Rydges South Bank are stunning at night time, looking out on to an illuminated cityscape and the Brisbane River.
The views from the north-east balconies of Rydges South Bank are stunning at night time, looking out on to an illuminated cityscape and the Brisbane River.

Lively city at your feet

I've always been a fan of a cit-escape. Growing up in a sleepy beach town left me craving the stimulation of neon lights and hustle and bustle as a young adult, yearning for a place where staying out past 9pm isn't merely tolerated but celebrated.

Pop me in Brisbane's cultural hub for a weekend in a swish hotel with late checkout, and you have one invigorated individual.

Rydges South Bank is on the corner of Glenelg and Grey Sts, opposite the scenic South Bank parklands and a stone's throw from Queensland's best art galleries, museums and restaurants.

The hotel recently completed its three-year, $30 million renovation, redeveloping all of its 304 rooms, complete with a 250kg custom-designed chandelier in the reception.

Matching the sparkling interior are the shining staff, ready to accommodate your every need with a bright smile and friendly chat.

After settling into the deluxe king suite - a spacious, one-bedroom apartment with panoramic views of the city - and enjoying a Veuve Garden Tea from the Rydges Soleil Pool Bar, a sunny stroll around Brisbane's walkable city was a must.


From South Bank, you can cross the river to Queen Street Mall - with tall foliage scattered below and Victorian buildings above, it rivals Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall for urban charm.

Walk directly southeast for a kilometre from Queen St and you'll reach Brisbane City Botanic Gardens on Alice St. Frolic in 20 hectares of manicured greens with colourful garden beds, large ponds with water features, tall bamboos and weeping willows - all set against the edge of the Brisbane River.

You can catch a City Cat or free City Hopper ferry back to the south part of the river to Kangaroo Point where tall rusty cliffs stretch along the riverbank, slowly turning a glowing orange as the sun sets.

If you're after something more thought-provoking, GoMA hosts some of the best touring modern art exhibitions in the world, and the Queensland Museum is currently hosting the British Museum's Egyptian Mummies.

And this month the Ekka comes to town, with public transport running frequently throughout the city to the nearby RNA Showgrounds.

We enjoyed a four-course degustation dinner with paired wines at the hotel's attached restaurant Bacchus.

Italian restaurant manager Kevin Puglisevich gives diners the VIP treatment, sharing insights into the preparation of the dishes and regaling stories of meeting the winemakers and producers in Italy.

My picks were the creamy, smooth risotto with seasonal mushrooms and chevre emulsion, and the lemon dessert with lexur limoncello, jam lemon candy and meringue.

Adequately buzzing from elegant wines and an incredibly pleasant day, it was 9.30pm. As my old neighbours in Noosa were turning in, we were ready to turn up - and Brisbane was ready for us in return.

For a sophisticated pre-party, hit up Jade Buddha on Eagle St, a relaxed bar with a sprawling outdoor balcony overlooking the illuminated Story Bridge.

When you're mentally prepared for a little chaos, the next and final stop is Fortitude Valley.

Hear me out - there are some bars that cater to those looking for a classy, yet exciting night on the town. Check out Birdees, Eleven and my personal favourite, Prohibition.

Day or night, Brisbane is an electric city.

The writer was a guest of Rydges South Bank.

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