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Style & Substance


It’s easy to get lost in an ever growing world of “locally inspired” lifestyle hotels. The abundance of choice and quality makes it hard for hotels to standout. So it takes a special kind of character and discipline for owners and operators to launch a new brand to market and get it right. Avoiding the latest trend and fad, to craft a hotel that won’t only standout, but stick around.

Everything has its place

Up in the meticulously designed guest rooms, the same sense of consideration and feeling flows through. Whether it be the perfectly packaged welcome card with thoughtful tips and tricks for exploring the area. The locally curated mini bar with the ‘crescent’ shaped menu that sits perfectly in the beautiful brass tray. The intuitive illumination and blackout blinds that assure a good night’s sleep. Or the sliding doors of the ensuite that glide effortlessly into a pocket in the wall. Everything has its place. It extends far beyond the guest room. The iconic poolside and adjacent Hellenica Restaurant create an urban oasis in the sky. Social spaces and neat nooks sit elegantly around the water, providing the perfect place to gather or quietly read a book. Long lazy lunches and lounging are the order of the day here, with hosts waiting attentively to guide you through the Mediterranean menu. If you stray a little further you’ll find a secret subterranean washroom beneath the pool deck. With its glassy green tiles and sunlight shimmering through the portals. It’s a simple yet stylish space, that more often than not gets overlooked by hotels. 

A Contemporary Classic

If we look to the grand dames and local landmark hotels of our past, no expense was spared in creating a destination to come together and celebrate the glitz and glamour of travel. But as the democratisation of design has spread, we’ve seen a rise not only in design led hotels but aspirational abodes. Hotels are no longer guaranteed to be better than home. It means meeting guest expectations is harder than ever, as is the appetite and budget to craft a property of enduring quality. One that will stand the test of time. The Calile is a masterclass in shaping a contemporary classic. An architectural icon at one with its surrounds. The hotel’s striking clock tower inspires locals to “keep time”. The elegant sweeping arches, inform a cohesive design language, that will only get better with age. The beautiful breeze blocks circulate the balmy breeze around the open air corridors. Soft tones, brass accents and luscious greenery create the perfect palette that lives and breathes, across the day. Not only is this a strike of genius in hotel design, but urban planning. Which brings me to my next point. 

Part of the Fabric

A hotel's ability to authentically connect with its surrounds is often what takes it from good to great. For if a hotel is to truly become part of the fabric, not just for a decade but a generation, it must have a deep understanding of people and place. Their needs and behaviours, not just of guests but local residents and businesses. Connected to the streetscape to welcome the outside in. This is what helps draw a crowd and shapes a lifestyle. From bustling business breakfasts to celebratory evening cocktails, slowly but surely becoming the destination of choice. The Calile has curated a lifestyle that lives beyond the lobby. In fact it straddles the adjacent streets. Working with likeminded partners, they’ve curated retail, restaurants and bars in-tune with the hotel’s broader ethos and values. Curiosity got the better of me, exploring one venue to the next. From incredible Italian eats at Bianca and ice cold chaser at Messina Gelateria on the first night. To the phenomenal chef’s table at SameSame, and nightcap negroni at the Lobby Bar on the next. To exploring the vibes of Venroy, it’s safe to say my mind, body and wallet wandered up and around James Street. 

So with all the talk and rise of lifestyle hotels, it got me thinking, how many will be here beyond the next decade? Will we see the enduring qualities of true hospitality return, with a focus on style as well as substance giving rise of the perfectly formed neighbourhood hotel? It is no surprise that The Calile Hotel has recently landed itself in the top 50 hotels of the world. With that in mind I think it’s safe to say the team are on to something special. 

Words by James Huntly, Founder & Creative Director | AboundStudio. 

So when I saw The Calile Hotel, in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley adorn my instagram feed, you could say I was a little skeptical. Sure it’s a stunner, but would it live up to all the hype? Well, I booked a stay to find out and I can tell you it’s a resounding yes. It's hearty, honest and effortlessly elegant. It’s not often I come away having a completely faultless stay, but this is one of them.


A lot has been written about The Calile, so what makes it so special? Is it the instagrammable interiors, the sophisticated but no less soulful service or the buzzing bar and restaurants? Well it’s all of the above, but for me it goes much, much deeper than this. I take a closer look. Radically rethinking operational behaviours and business models, ensuring each and every move, not only enriches the guest experience, but ultimately the land. 

Back to Basics

The rise of lifestyle hotels has flung open the doors to the many, not just a privileged few. Guests and locals mingle in vibrant open lobbies with beats and blends served up by local baristas and DJs. Hotels have become inherently social places to be and I love it. But at times it can come at the detriment to delivering trademark hospitality. I’m not necessarily talking about the white glove service, but the smaller hospitable touches, the ones that make staying in a hotel, well special.


At the Calile, true hospitality is alive and well. Hearty hosts not only know your name, but deliver a warm welcome and sense of arrival that assures guests they’ve made the right choice. The lobby is calm and considered, with gentle chatter and freshly ground coffee wafting over from the lobby bar. True hospitality is about thoughtfully and authentically connecting people to place. It’s about being on hand, for that forgotten charger and in this case of The Calile, extending hospitality beyond their four walls, with discounts and benefits from local partners under the banner ‘Friends of Calile’. Now that’s special. 

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