Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Royal on the Park - "If only the walls could talk"

The Royal on the Park is the grand old lady of Brisbane hotels and is one of those places where you wish the walls could talk.

Built in 1969 and formerly know as the Park Royal Motor Inn, the Royal on the Park is famous for its 'groovy' 1960s exterior and its location overlooking the Brisbane Botanical Gardens on the very edge of the CBD, five blocks from the heart of 'town'.

It is also three blocks from the former site of Brisbane's Festival Hall and during its heyday it was the place to stay for celebrities who came to town. Hundreds, probably even thousands, of entertainers, including the likes of Elton John, AC/DC, Kylie Minogue and Duran Duran all stayed there, not to mention the list of dignitaries, politicians and sporting legends.

The Park Royal was Brisbane's premiere hotel and, even as kids, I remember it being the 'swish' hotel in town.

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Photo above - the Royal on the Park by day and by night (looks like the hotel has on her evening party dress dress). 

*All prices are in Australian dollars and all information is current as of January 2013.

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The architecture is definitely 1960s.

The Royal on the Park underwent a refurbishment in mid-2012 and it looks great. But the hotel is undeniably from another era and its size, design and layout reflect this. When it opened in 1969 Brisbane's population was around half of what it is today and it was a far different city. Brisbane had the reputation of being a big country town and the hotel catered for a much smaller population base. It's important to remember this if you stay at the Royal on the Park.

Despite the refurbishment, the Royal on the Park still has a touch of 'old school' about it and I liked this. The hotel bar and restaurant (discussed later) are quaint - cosy even - and the layout of the foyer has a yesteryear feel to it. The lifts get you there a bit slower than what you might be used to and there is even the old-style internal staircase - not the fire escape - that you can use between floors.

The stairs next to the lifts and the view down the stairwell (who doesn't love looking down stairwells?!).

Deluxe Room

My Deluxe Room was spacious (one aspect of the hotel that isn't small/cosy) and it has everything you need. The furnishings were modern and everything was neat and clean. 

The chaise lounge was a first and the glass-top desk was very smart. Quite often desks in hotel rooms give it an office feel, but the room was a perfect combination of business and pleasure. Another great thing is the free WiFi available for guests. No password needed - just the name the room was booked under and the room number.

The room didn't have a safe (okay, maybe not everything you need) but there are safety deposit boxes at Reception.

If you're like me and reach for the TV remote not long after entering a hotel room, these were the channels on offer -

Terrestrial - 7, 9, 10, ABC 1, SBS
Sky News
Fox 8
Lifestyle (seemed to be a lot of Nickelodeon)
Fox Sports 1, 2, 3

*Alternatively, if TV isn't your thing, then how about a good book? Perhaps one - or more - of my three books? Have a look and see which you might like.

Deluxe Room, complete with chaise lounge and glass-top business desk.
A sneak preview of the view out the window.
The room was on the 10th, and top, floor and lucked out on a view
of the botanical gardens. Such is life!
Instead I got the Brisbane CBD - Albert Street is at left and Margaret Street in foreground.
The bathroom.
(Peter) Morrissey goodies on offer in the bathroom.
The tea/coffee making area and part of the mini-bar (bar fridge below).
The glass-top desk.
The black 'box' next to the lamp has powerpoints and internet cable (even though WiFi is free).
Chaise lounge.
The teddy bears can be bought for $20. Of this, $10 goes to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH) Foundation.
The room's bins - LtoR General Waste and Recycling.

Laundry Service

Royal on the Park offers an in-house laundry service and there is also a coin-operated guest laundry on Level 4, where washing powder can also be bought.

In the wardrobe in my room were a couple of forms and bags in which to place laundry items. 

Costs were as follows...

Wining and Dining

I mentioned the hotel bar (Lounge Bar) and restaurant (Walnut Restaurant) earlier and how they were quaint - cosy, even. The evening I was there I had a quiet beer in the Lounge Bar and it reminded me of some of the pubs I frequented when I lived in Scotland. It felt like a 'local' and had around 10 tables and seating for a couple of dozen, with a piano in the corner.

The same could be said for the Walnut Restaurant. It is right next to the Lounge Bar and many of the people in the bar the night before went from the bar to the restaurant, with drinks in toe. It's not huge but matches the size of the hotel. The use of wood panelling in both gives it that 'other era' look.

I didn't dine there and had the buffet breakfast, which was fabulous. The selection was ample and what was there was delicious (I went back several times!). And, at $32pp for full buffet/$25 for continental, well priced.

The Lounge Bar:

Walnut Restaurant:

Room Service

The Room Service menu mostly mirrors the Lunch/Dinner/Kids menu from the Walnut Restaurant (above) but also offers All Day Breakfast, Salad, Sandwich and Pizza/Pasta options.

The Walnut Restaurant set up for the breakfast buffet.
A quiet beer in the Lounge Bar.

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If you'd like to know how to turn your images into visual stories, I've published a book that takes a whole new slant on photography and 'translates' the art of taking photos into a language we all understand.

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If relaxing by the pool, or working up a sweat in the gym, is your thing, then...

Pool and spa (open 6.30am - 9am).
Early morning swim.
The gym - open 24 hours but unmanned (towels are available in the gym).

Hotel guests also get discounted rates for bicycle hire in the botanical gardens. Alternatively, there are CityCycle stands close by, the nearest being on Alice Street, just across Albert Street on the same side as the hotel.

The CityCycle stand just up Alice Street from the hotel.

Brisbane Botanical Gardens

I also mentioned that the Royal on the Park is famous for its location, opposite the Brisbane Botanical Gardens...

Looking across Alice Street to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.
Looking up Alice Street. The Royal on the Park is on the right just before the traffic lights
and the gardens are to the left.
Front entrance to the botanical gardens. I took this photo early in the morning (Sunday) and got a shock when
a couple of thousand people appeared out of nowhere - there was a funrun on around the gardens that morning.
The 'painting' on the right is a traffic signal box. Hundreds of TSBs around Brisbane have been turned into works
of art, which is far more pleasing than the alternative - hundreds of drab, grey TSBs! View the painted TSB's HERE.
The gardens are usually a hive of activity but the day before, while I was waiting to check in, I wandered
over to the gardens. It was a hot day and I even had to wait for this bloke to walk past!
Fountain just inside the front gate.
One of the sculptures in the garden.
Alice Street is the only street frontage the gardens have - the rest of the frontage is the Brisbane River,
which snakes its way around the gardens. The yachts moored here are on permanent moorings.
The gardens might be in the centre of the city but there is plenty of natural wildlife.
This Eastern Water Dragon looked like it had been in the wars and the end of its tail was missing.
A couple cool off in the shade.
A little bit of the gardens encroach onto Alice Street.

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I enjoyed my night at Royal on the Park and was surprised when I saw the 4.5-star rating. There are some aspects that deserve the 4.5-star rating but, overall, I'd say it is strong 4-star. Remember, she is the grand old lady of Brisbane's hotels, so she might not be as sparkly as other hotels, but she has her own sense of style and elegance (as their website says - Elegance Returns, You Should Too).

The beauty of this hotel is you're a few blocks from the centre of town but you are also able to walk out the front door of the hotel, across the street and into the quiet and tranquility of the botanical gardens, which also link to South Bank and its parklands and eateries (as well as Australia's only beach in the middle of the city!). In many ways you have the best of both worlds!

If you stay at Royal on the Park, I hope you also enjoy your time there.



Cnr Alice and Albert Streets, Brisbane (street MAP)
Ph - +61 7 3221 3411
Fax - + 61 7 3229 9817

See and read about more of my accommodation experiences/reviews.

ALSO, see my 'eat, sleep and see' page for suggestions of things to do in Brisbane and SE Qld.

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All photos and text by Giulio Saggin.
© Use of photos and text must be via written permission

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