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Thursday 23 May 2013

Australian style with a French accent

A busy five-star city centre hotel doesn't have to be rude and impersonal - even though so many of them are.

How many business hotels have you stayed at where you wait 20 minutes to check in and are are regarded as Mr Room 513? "Sign here please and don't forget to spend up big in the mini bar". 

There are, also, however, some large luxury hotels in which you are immediately made comfortable. Places where there is a warm, welcoming vibe and staff seem to actually care whether you need any help with your luggage or assistance with having a boarding pass printed out.

Very much in the second category is the recently refurbished Sofitel Brisbane Central, where there is someone to greet you at the door and the receptionists not only smile, but listen. Simple stuff, but all too rare nowadays.

I’ve stayed several times at this property, dating back to when it was a Sheraton, and it has never looked brighter, more welcoming or so stylishly French.

That is in part due to an $8 million refurbishment of all 433 rooms and also to a stylish Gallic attitude that has permeated through all levels of staff. The rooms are European in style (think chic Parisian posters), although rather bigger than most – and online rates start from around $240 with a range of packages available.

The Sofitel is the largest luxury hotel in Brisbane and the refurb includes new furniture, light and technology - including air-conditioning that actually obeys commands - iPad and iPod connectivity and blackout blinds. There is also the famous, and dangerously comfortable, Sofitel MyBed in all guest rooms. 

Located just above the city centre and within easy walking distance of late night hot spot Eagle Street Pier, South Bank Parklands and the Convention Centre, the Sofitel also offers direct access to Central Station, with easy transportation to both Brisbane Airport and the Gold Coast.
Hotel facilities include a fitness centre, heated pool and spa, several restaurants (including the upmarket Privé 249) and bars, and the opportunity to upgrade to the 81 rooms and 21 suites suites on the Club Sofitel levels, where skyline views and access to the exclusive Club Sofitel Lounge are included, along with free wifi, complimentary canapés and afternoon drinks, buffet breakfasts, free use of meeting rooms and afternoon tea. 
#Wine lovers will also be pleased to note that the hotel is one of just 25 Sofitels around the world that is part of the innovative "Coups de Coeur" wine program. 
The hotels selected are showcasing high-quality, but affordable, wines from appellations including Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Cotes du Rhone and Jura specially selected by French experts Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve (below).
These are available by the glass and bottle, matched with either one dish or a complete menu; maybe a Domaine Faiveley Myglands Mercurey 1er Cru 2010 for $17 or $80; or perhaps a Chateau Leoville Barton 2007 for $195.  The Brisbane Sofitel will also host a dedicated French Wine Week from September 23-30 with a range of tastings, dinners and informal gatherings.  

Sofitel Brisbane Central is at 249 Turbot Street, Brisbane. Phone: (07) 3835 3535.    

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