THE French champagne flowed freely as fire twirlers circulated among the guests, pausing intermittently to suggestively show off the capacity of their deep throats by swallowing the fire sticks whole.
It was an impressive scene and a fitting celebration of the $12 million refurbishment of Novotel Brisbane, which was relaunched in August.
The bar and lobby was a sea of people shimmering in the firelight against the cool tones of white reconstructed stone, glass, hula lights and tiles.
The vivid red Italian designer chairs and lounges added a dash of colour with a bold retro twist, and were the perfect place to plonk ourselves with some fine French plonk.
Despite the throng, the bar had an intimate feel with indoor alcoves: the perfect place for a share plate or light meal.
Curious to have a sticky beak at the renos, we were treated to a grand tour. The facilities are impressive - Barastor Café, a state-of-the-art iMac station, extensive meeting and business facilities, a large lap pool, sun deck, pool, sauna, gymnasium and a secure underground car park.
The clincher, however, was the new premier room on the 14th floor. It had a penthouse-suite feel but without the price tag and boasted a Nespresso coffee machine, iPod docking station, big LCD TV and floor-to-ceiling glass walls opening on to a private balcony with city views.
Business travellers will be impressed by the free internet and free local calls and ample desk space. Guests even get to take home the complimentary bathrobe and slippers.
Food and beverage manager Edmond Power told us that the 4.5- star Novotel lived in "guest world" not "hotel world".
Unlike staid and stuffy hotel world, guest world is thoroughly modern from the hotel fit-out to the informal, yet friendly customer service.
It's a corporate philosophy that makes staying at the Novotel a pleasant experience.
Our room had an inviting look with artwork in warm orangey-red hues adorning the walls and bed head. The wall-mounted flat screen TV offered a smorgasbord of entertainment including in-house yoga, and the mini bar was well-stocked with boutique and international beers and fine wines.
But after a few sherbets at the party, we fell into a deep slumber in the ultra comfy king-sized bed.
Breakfast rounded off a very satisfying hotel experience: a full cooked breakfast from the buffet with eggs made to order and barista-made coffee. Whatever your dietary requirement or food philosophy, every taste is catered for from the organics corner to seasonal fruits and bakery with gluten-free products.
As we left the restaurant to collect our bags and check out, a passing staff member said a cheery good morning and pressed the elevator button for us. Effortless service like that leaves a lasting impression.
Novotel Brisbane on the city fringe is located within close walking distance of the Queen St Mall and is popular throughout the week with business travellers but equally appealing for weekend getaways.
The writer was a guest of Novotel Brisbane
- Novotel Brisbane is at the top of Creek St near Central Station and the CBD, Queen Street Mall and the Riverside boardwalk.
- Convenience: The lobby has three IMAC computers, which guests can use for free to access the internet for up to 20 minutes.
- Distance from city centre: 500m
- Distance from airport: 15km
- Number of rooms: 296
- Number of suites: 4
- Special access rooms: 3
- Smoking rooms: none
- Check-in: 2pm
- Check-out: 11am
- Address: 200 Creek St, Brisbane
- Reservations: Phone 3309 3309
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