Review: Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane, historic with a modern edge

From offices to a radio station and bank, this heritage-listed address has housed it all, but its latest resident is the best yet.

Overall Rating

By Chris Ashton, May 31 2023
Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane, historic with a modern edge
Country

Australia

City

Brisbane

Hotel

Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane

Rating

4 Stars

Room

One Bedroom Apartment with balcony

Notes
The Good
  • Modern apartments with kitchen and laundry
  • Swimming pool and gymnasium
The Bad
  • Limited onsite parking
  • No room service, included breakfast
X-Factor
  • Donna Chang Chinese restaurant
  • Beautifully restored heritage details
Location
Rooms
Meals
Overall

Introduction

Brisbane’s a capital undergoing rapid growth and change – multifaceted towers reaching ever higher; fresh developments transforming once-quiet streets into a lively hub. However, not everything is new, and that’s a very good thing.

Reminders of the city’s rich sandstone heritage abound. Among them, City Hall on King George Square, as well the Treasury and former Queensland Government Savings Bank building, both found on opposite corners of George and Elizabeth Streets.

The hotel stands out from its more contemporary neighbours.
The hotel stands out from its more contemporary neighbours.

Now home to Adina Brisbane Apartment Hotel, the Savings Bank delivers a surprising mix of old and new. Ornate ceilings and cornices, detailed murals and original timber panelling fill the double height lobby, while its apartments are fitted with all the mod cons.

The lobby also houses a fantastic Chinese restaurant: Donna Chang, which we’ll bite into in more detail later.

Location & Impressions

For a time, the building was among the tallest in Brisbane – but that was a while ago. It’s now dwarfed by almost all around it, yet still boasts an outlook over Queens Gardens and across the Treasury rooftop to Southbank and the snaking Brisbane River.

Given its position at 171 George Street, the Adina makes a fine base for work or play. Queen Street Mall is a mere block away, while theatres, restaurants and the man-made beach of Southbank are under 10 minutes walk via Victoria Bridge.

The view from room 1010 - a One Bedroom Apartment with balcony.
The view from room 1010 - a One Bedroom Apartment with balcony.

The building’s original sandstone exterior is studded with windows, ornate columns and arches, while a contemporary extension adds balconies and even more glass in the upper levels.

Stepping into the lobby, it feels like you’ve stumbled into the late 1920s. Deep armchairs, mismatched settees and chequerboard floors sets the scene, while a grand Art Deco chandelier and underlighting highlights murals around the walls. It’s a little quirky.

A convenient seating area is found opposite the ground floor lifts.
A convenient seating area is found opposite the ground floor lifts.

A handy coffee shop – St Marks Road Co – is squirrelled away to one side, serving coffees and pastries until midday, Monday to Saturday. And at the far end, Chef Hatted modern Cantonese restaurant Donna Chang.

Check-in is quick, easy and I’m soon off to the lifts around the corner.

Varied seating lines the walls of the lobby, making it a good base for meeting with friends or colleagues, or somewhere to sit and enjoy the coffee you’ve picked up from St Marks.

Barista coffee, pastries and sandwiches are all on the menu at St Marks Road Co.
Barista coffee, pastries and sandwiches are all on the menu at St Marks Road Co.

Those feeling active will find an adjacent swimming pool and gymnasium, both on ground level.

Parking is available onsite for $30 per car per day, accessed via a small lane at Charlotte Street – look out for the Pancake Manor sign. It’s quite limited though and only on a first come, first served basis. Additional parking can be found at the nearby Myer Centre.

Room

Our key unlocks the door to room 1010 – a Premier One Bedroom Apartment with Balcony. Others range from a standard Studio up to a Three Bedroom Apartment and Penthouse.

The bedroom can be separated from the living area by sliding doors, if you're having visitors.
The bedroom can be separated from the living area by sliding doors, if you're having visitors.

Designed as a self-contained home from home, the apartment comes with a full laundry, plus a kitchenette stocked with dishwasher, microwave, oven and hotplates. Flanking cupboards contain just about every pot, pan or piece of crockery you could possibly need.

The well-equipped kitchen with full size fridge and pod coffee machine.
The well-equipped kitchen with full size fridge and pod coffee machine.

Swinging around, a two-person dining table under a glass pendant light and L-shaped lounge facing an LCD TV round out the living area, while the bedroom is tucked behind sliding doors.

The classic monochromatic colour scheme, blonde timber-look floors and elegant marble finishes lend the room a premium feel, one that’s enhanced by the furnishings choices. It feels a step up from your average hotel apartment. 

USB and AC power outlets are conveniently on either side of the bed.
USB and AC power outlets are conveniently on either side of the bed.

In the bedroom is a king-size bed, twin wardrobes and an orange leather bench seat, plus yet another TV. The balcony is small but a nice perch to take in the view.

The subway-tiled bathroom houses a walk-in shower, plus the washer, dryer and ironing board.

Laundry needs are tucked away inside a cupboard in the bathroom.
Laundry needs are tucked away inside a cupboard in the bathroom.

Work

The Adina doesn’t have a dedicated business centre or lounge, but the dining table in the room acts as a decent substitute. The chair is comfortable and the pendant gives adequate light.

Power points are conveniently at table height.
Power points are conveniently at table height.

Ground floor seating by the lifts or the upright bench near St Marks Co are good options too.

Wifi speeds are rather average at 2.8Mbps download and 1.3Mbps upload.

Eat

The hallmark of a quality hotel is a great restaurant. Though run independently from the hotel, Adina doesn’t disappoint, with two delicious options onsite: Donna Chang, named after a fictional character from Seinfeld, and Japanese-style izakaya Boom Boom Room.

Unfortunately, room service is not available from either venue though, nor is there breakfast included at the hotel. However, meal delivery from local restaurants can be arranged.

For my visit, it’s the modern Sichuan and Cantonese flavours of Donna Chang that win me over, as does the venue itself.

A panoramic view of Donna Chang.
A panoramic view of Donna Chang.

Spanning two levels off the lobby and filled with plush, mustard and pink booth seating, it’s also home to a lengthy marble-topped bar and a peekaboo window at the far end, where you can stop and watch the action unfold (or fold, in the case of dumplings) in the kitchen.

As a first-time diner, I opt for the $120pp banquet menu. Wines are recommended for each course.

It's Monday night but the restaurant is doing a fine trade.
It's Monday night but the restaurant is doing a fine trade.

On the list are eight dishes, some large, others small: starting with a moreish house-made pickle in Sichuan chilli and a Mala dried beef that’s smoky and spicy in equal measure.

House-made pickles deliver a punchy start to the meal.
House-made pickles deliver a punchy start to the meal.

As is the best kind of banquet, dishes just keep on coming (though it is well paced).

Following the appetisers is a tasty trio of kingfish and zesty finger lime, cold sesame noodles (which I could happily eat every day), and an almost floral-tasting white cut chicken in chilli.

White cut chicken in Sichuan chilli oil.
White cut chicken in Sichuan chilli oil.

Moreton Bay bug dumplings adorned with caviar, cumin spiced lamb buns with a chilli paste, and prawn and scallop wonton lathered on black vinegar and chilli. The dumplings are my dish of the night – an absolute must-try.

Blue Moreton Bay dumplings and lamb buns alongside prawn and scallop wontons.
Blue Moreton Bay dumplings and lamb buns alongside prawn and scallop wontons.

While there’s a lot of chilli over the course of the banquet (don’t expect a quick in and out meal with this one), every dish is bursting with flavour and you can distinguish each ingredient. Great service enhances the enjoyment.

Just when I think the meal is over, another four dishes make their arrival to the table: steamed barramundi, red braised pork belly and shiitake, and stir fried beef with pickled chilli, followed by Steamed greens in oyster sauce. The pork belly melts in the mouth.

A delicious array of mains.
A delicious array of mains.

Last but not least, dessert: a silky coconut sago pudding with mango and lime jelly. Heaven in a stemless glass.

Over at Boom Boom Room, the hotel’s Japanese izakaya, the restaurant menu spans bite-size favourites and share dishes including Hiramasa kingfish sashimi and classic yakitori chicken, through to an omakase banquet where the choice of dishes is left up to the chef.

Boom Boom is located below ground level.
Boom Boom is located below ground level.

This is matched by an extensive drinks selection, of which 27 rare and limited release whiskeys take top billing. Sake, cocktails, beer and a mix of spirits rounds out the bar offering.

Chargeback facilities are available at both restaurants for convenience.

Relax

Travellers hoping to keep active during their stay will find an adequate gymnasium on the ground floor, alongside an outdoor swimming pool – set under large-scale metal mobile and surrounded on all four sides by high walls.

Subway tiles and reflective wall panels add some interest to the otherwise plain wall.
Subway tiles and reflective wall panels add some interest to the otherwise plain wall.

Sun lounges and chairs line one side of the pool, though you’re unlikely to catch a tan sitting here, as direct sunlight would rarely penetrate this far down.

Verdict

An historic stay with a modern edge, Adina Brisbane’s apartments are exceptionally well equipped, making a fine choice for a few nights or longer.

Much like its younger TFE Hotels sibling, the stunning A by Adina Sydney, it’s a more premium take on apartment living, though doesn’t hit quite as many highs as that newer offering. An option for included breakfast or room service would also be an improvement.

That said, there’s still a lot to love here, particularly if you’re a history buff.

Ask the reception staff to point you in the direction of the Elizabeth Street staircase, which acts as the fire escape for all levels of the heritage building but is exactly as it was in the 1910s, including wrought iron balustrading, cedar handrail, and green tiled dado on the walls.

An Insta-worthy fire escape.
An Insta-worthy fire escape.

Onsite dining options aren’t ones you’d visit every night (though worthwhile at least once… or twice) but given the convenience of kitchen facilities and the myriad of restaurants and bars in easy walking distance, you don’t have to.

Given the central location and facilities, I’d happily return again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 385

Chris, if you were to judge just the meal at Donna Chang, how would this rate? As I note your overall rating, assuming things like lack of room service is calculated into the overall rating. 

Lack of room service and breakfast absolutely played a part in the overall rating. If it was based just on the meal, it would be five stars. A fantastic experience. 

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 327

Great hotel, good location  Bridges to Westbank where a visit to TheGreekCafe is a must - great kitchen bedroom, and quiet  -stayed here Oct 2021 during COVID pl--ndemic Nearby Woolies to cater, and an Irish pub right down stairs  Stayed high floor studio then high floor 1br apartment - both excellent, but it was nice having a balcony  and floor to ceiling glass view of Brisbane River   Pool is OK but it is indoors, but at least its a bit nicer than Sydney Hilton underground airless pool  Staff were great, nice to self cater as I like worldwide, so brekky not essential - closest similartype of property I can think of is Beacon Hotel UWS NYC.  This is on equal par with said for me, albeit no Beacon Liquor, No Viand Diner and no Fairways just across the street.  And this is a lot cheaper! 


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