While the Sunshine Coast is home to one of the country’s best thoroughbred racing facilities – with a great spring racing season to boot – there is always the temptation to frock up and join the 300,000 other stylish punters at the nation’s premier event – the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Of course, if your budget doesn’t stretch to Victoria, but you are craving a getaway, you can always try your luck a little closer to home at the Brisbane Spring Racing Carnival.
With five race days showcasing live local races, interstate action and an appearance by The Hills star Brody Jenner, it’s worth the journey.
My advice? Make the most of your weekend. Take your partner or group of friends, set up home in the city’s foremost retail and lifestyle precinct and enjoy a luxe couple of days away from the norm.
I’m talking of course, about the urban, stylish mix that is James Street. Design-forward, culturally pleasing and home to award-winning restaurants, the leafy Fortitude Valley favourite is the perfect location to splash out, and spoil yourself, which is exactly what I did on a recent visit.
We based ourselves at the ideally-located and stylish Sage Hotel, and with a rare 24 child-free hours in front of us, we didn’t waste a second. Checked in, luggage stored away, we emerged from the contemporary lobby on to the sun-drenched sidewalk of James Street. What ensued was a weekend of shopping, eating and taking in the city vibe.
Here are some suggestions for your own luxe escape to the Valley.
Nestled in the heart of James Street, Sage Hotel boasts 93 comfortable and stylish rooms, some with views across the city. Our deluxe king room was spacious (the bathroom is gorgeous!) and featured a wrap-around terrace perfect for relaxing. The hotel itself lends itself to biophilic design with a lot of greenery, natural light and oversized glass panels. This, combined with the service and amenities, leaves guests feeling relaxed and at ease. With parking, complimentary gym access to Function Well 24-hour Fitness and the Valley Pool, and a complimentary chauffeur to transport you to city locations, Sage is a great find. Room rates start at $139 for the standard queen room, which is an absolute bargain given the hotel’s location, and range to $229 for the deluxe king. Visit nexthotels.com/sage/james-street-brisbane.
Foodies love James Street, and for good reason. There is no shortage of five-star, award-winning restaurants to experience.
We enjoyed a long lunch, and a few laughs thanks to our witty and friendly waiter, at Cru Bar + Cellar. This open restaurant features street-side open windows with cushioned bench seating. Cru Bar is known for great service, even better food, and is the perfect spot to indulge. Book ahead as it is a Brisbane favourite. Visit crubar.com.
Bucci Restaurant & Bar’s delicious modern Italian dining offers interpretations of classic Italian cuisine with a unique Australian twist. Service is spot-on, the food is terrific and we loved watching executive chef Shaun Malone and his team at work in the kitchen. Visit buccijamesstreet.com.au.
Looking for a little luxury? Shopping in James Street is a unique experience, but be prepared to hand over your credit card. Or, you could escape everyday life with a Thai-inspired foot soak, scrub and massage infused with aromatic essential oils in the calming oasis of The Thai Foot Spa. Visit thaifootspa.com.au.
A visit to James Street is not complete without a stroll through the market. This hub of all things delicious and tempting, will leave your heart and tummy full. The upmarket emporium features fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and bakery with a wide range of delicious treats. Visit jamesst.com.au.
Of course, if it’s the races that draw you to the city, don’t miss the Caulfield Cup Ladies’ Day, October 19; Cox Plate Day, October 26 and Derby Day, November 2 at Eagle Farm.
The writer was a guest of Next Hotels.