Sydney and Melbourne may have been doing it for longer, but Brisbane, Queensland's brash upstart capital, does it better. That pretty much sums up the attitude of the Brisbanites, whose booming city has now firmly stamped its vibrant arts, music and new-tech scenes onto the national map. But the River City, with its famously wriggling river, also likes to keep it natural.
This is a city where there's a beach in down-town; where you can climb cliffs in its inner district; and where the CBD bristles with lush gardens and parks, as much as towering skyscrapers. It is also blessed with one of the sunniest dispositions – both in terms of weather and outlook – in the nation. With the pleasures of the Gold Coast just around the corner, Brisbane certainly pulls in the visitors. And its wonderfully diverse set of hotel districts do their best to keep them all happy.
The top hotel districts certainly have plenty of individual character. The hub of the city's buzz, of course, is the CBD. This is where the hotels tend to be big, bold and plush, catering for the well-heeled tourist and business traveller alike. Some of the hotels here offer first-class services, like spa treatments. One even offers a fully-fledged casino experience.
Away from the main shopping and business streets, you may also find some smaller, less expensive hotels. But quality, budget lodgings are naturally few and far between. If you're looking towards doing Brisbane on a budget, though – and want to remain close to the action – you could try the hip West End district, near to the University.
This area is known as the bohemian part of town, thanks in part to its large student population. Around Highgate Hill (on the east side of the river) or St. Lucia (on the west), you can find a number of well-priced guest houses and B&Bs, as well as some boutique hotels. The Inner North area, north of the river (and CBD) is also a good hunting ground for cheaper accommodation.
Its districts of Fortitude Valley, New Farm, and Newstead have a mix of well-furnished, mid-priced hotels, and low-cost hostels and B&Bs. Fortitude Valley, in particular, is known for its rising club and music scene. The accommodation around Brunswick Street caters very much to its frenetic night-life scene.
Moving back across the river, South Bank is a contrasting Brisbane 'village' with more highbrow matters on its mind. This is one of the oldest suburbs in town, but is home to modern art galleries, performing arts centres and museums. You can find some classy hotels, with real authentic old-school charm, in this area, as well as more contemporary luxury hotels. Prices are high, though, as you are conveniently close to both its cultural attractions and the CBD.
Finally, one district that says it all about Brisbane is the narrow peninsular of Kangaroo Point, just opposite the CBD. Closed-in by the tightly turning river, this is where the Lions have their home, at the legendary Gabba stadium. The hotels here are a mixed bunch of modern high-rise, boutique and serviced apartments. It's also here that cliff-top abseiling or kayaking can be an early morning inner-city pursuit. How very Brisbane.