The Luxury Travel Bible - LUXURY HOTELS: Sage Hotel, James Street


The scene: Adjoining Brisbane's iconic heritage Queens Arms Hotel within strolling distance of James Street's hottest fashion, food and wine outlets.
The style: A blend of semi-industrial and contemporary design. 
Seen in the lobby: Fashion industry high fliers, business travellers and tote-carrying weekenders. 

Over several decades Brisbane's former industrial precinct within Fortitude Valley (a smidge north-east of Brisbane's CBD), has slowly been transformed. Myriad adjectives - often opposing - can aptly describe the neighbourhood's various character traits today. It is in parts, 'grungy and offbeat'  yet  'elegant and sophisticated' in others.

For a growing number of people who enjoy the inner-city vibe and have a lust for life's finer things, there is one street in particular where the 'in' crowd heads.


James Street's impressive collection of art galleries, local and European designer fashion boutiques, as well as major retail outlets (including a new specialist DJ store) and a string of award-winning restaurants, uber-cool cafes and hip bars have made it the city's trendiest street to meet and greet.

And now, even if you're not a local, you can stay and play like one.

Established a stroll away from the busier 'green' end of James Street, you'll find the new Sage Hotel, an upscale four-storey boutique property snuggling up to the historic Queens Arms Hotel. It's managed by the SilverNeedle Hospitality group, which also operates Brisbane's innovative NEXT hotel, overlooking Brisbane's Queen Street Mall. NEXT fans may notice some similarities in Sage's stylish yet functional interiors - destined to attract the inner-city's burgeoning young and upwardly mobile set.

Inside, the lobby reflects current trends and the building's commercial past -  featuring polished exposed aggregate concrete floors, split-aged and recycled sand-stock brick and a unique 'Knot' light design by Karim Rashid. The hotel's 93 guest rooms, which range from Standard to Superior, Superior twin (perfect for a weekend away with the girls) and Deluxe include features like custom beds, large TVs, tubs, twin vanities and balconies with enviable city views. All are minimally, comfortably and thoughtfully furnished, particularly when it comes to storage. Feature walls bearing floor-to-ceiling black-and-white photographic perspectives of Brisbane - provide that initial wow-moment on entry. On closer inspection, the rooms reveals a deeper connection to the hotel's winning location - showcasing a wide range of local artisans like the must-have Mokum floral designer cushion covers, SOAK bathroom amenities, and Dinosaur Designs home wares and tempting array of tasty treats from the nearby New Farm Confectionery, Jocelyn's Provisions and Newstead Brewing Co. Staff wear uniforms designed by Canadian cashmere kings Kit and Ace (who have a local store) and jewellery by Dinosaur Designs.

Take a fancy to anything and it's a simply case of whipping out the credit card and heading out the lobby doors. While not overly extravagant by our discriminating standards (there's no in-house pool or Michelin-starred restaurant) it is, without doubt, Sage's location that fuels this smart hotel's allure.

Even so, there are some definite luxe touches.

For those who want to explore beyond James Street, and didn't bring their own set of luxury wheels (valet parking provided) - a Mercedes courtesy car is permanently parked out front, with driver ready to offer a complimentary lift. As well as free Wi-Fi (essential tool of the business traveller or social media aficionados) and 24-hour reception, the hotel even has a dedicated style room for fashion, art or creative showings - possibly the first of its kind.

It would take a week or more to sample all of James Street's exquisite food and beverage offerings (see our top picks below), but you don't need to venture far to find ample sustenance. Adjacent to the lobby is a cafe/deli and cellar and right next door, the heritage Queens Arms offers an upgraded pub-style menu, and brand new intimate (lane-wide) formal dining experience - Botanical Bar & Kitchen featuring a towering 15m vertical garden. Here, celebrated Brisbane chef David Lindsay, who started his career at Brisbane's famed Pier Nine 21 years ago, promises his discerning diners the option of lighter, well-balanced share plates featuring plant-based proteins alongside the customary meat-based dishes.  

Check-in: 70 James Street, Fortitude Valley
Ultimate Luxury: A night's sleep in a Dreamweave custom King bed. So comfy! But really, at Sage, it's all about the location, location, location and the luxury of having one of Brisbane's most celebrated high streets on your doorstep.
Most Indulgent Moment: Don't go home before spending an indulgent hour in WaterLily's first concept store (a few doors up) and awaken your skin with a Thalasso Therapy or Signature Seasonal Spa Facial using Australian hand-made ingredients incorporating its hard-working Spaceuticals range. Allow tote space  for a few luxe beauty purchases. 
Insider Secrets: After a spa treatment and much retail therapy, soothe your soul with a little in-room yoga or quiet meditation. Mats are available from reception.
The Little Things: Guests receive complimentary access to a local gym and the Valley pool. Sage Styling space - from $250 (dawn to dusk) 
Junior Luxies: Mini-bar includes delights from New Farm Confectionery with sherbert lollypops and caramel chocolate to delight both children and the child within us all.
Latest release movies are on $3.95 with a number of family-friendly titles.
Cots available (complimentary)
Dent in the platinum: Room rates - Standard $229 up to $299 for Deluxe.
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 Debbie Nielson-Hunter 4/5/17
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