Perfect for the location: What it’s like staying at Hotel X Brisbane Fortitude Valley, Vignette Collection by IHG – The Points Guy

Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane, doesn’t receive as much international attention as rival cities Sydney or Melbourne, but it offers a great introduction to Australia. A genuine “city-meets-country” vibe, warm subtropical weather and laidback locals will instantly put you in vacation mode.

I last visited Brisbane’s nightlife precinct, Fortitude Valley, more than a decade ago. So, my recollections of dingy nightclubs and round-the-clock takeaway joints left me skeptical about how a new-ish luxury hotel would fare in this dubious, low-rent setting.

Here’s everything you need to know about staying at Hotel X Brisbane, Vignette Collection by IHG, Fortitude Valley.

Related: With new Brisbane route, United underscores importance of its new partner, Virgin Australia

What is Hotel X Brisbane, Fortitude Valley?

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Debuting in early 2021, Hotel X is the first property in the world to open under IHG’s “Vignette Collection,” which now boasts eight properties across Thailand, Portugal and Dubai, among others.

IHG describes the Vignette Collection as a group of luxury properties where “no two are the same.” This sounds similar to Hilton’s Curio Collection or Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, which allow independent properties to join and take advantage of a global hotel group’s marketing and loyalty benefits.

Hotel X offers 146 rooms and suites overlooking Brunswick Street in the heart of Fortitude Valley. The vibe is geared toward nighttime fun. You can expect decorative touches, like white and glossy onyx inlaid with metal accents, inspired by the vinyl and musical instruments found in nearby entertainment venues.

While the property is a short walk from numerous bars and clubs, it’s also just enough removed from the action to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.

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How to book Hotel X Brisbane, Fortitude Valley

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A base room at Hotel X can be booked for as low as $178 per night, including fees and taxes, which is a reasonable rate for accommodation of this standard. On peak nights, such as the Easter weekend, prices only rise to $270 per night. TPG paid $210 per night for a two-night, midweek stay just before Christmas.

As a member of IHG One Rewards loyalty program, reward nights range from 28,000 to 47,000 IHG points per night. Current cash rates align with TPG’s current 0.5-cent valuation of IHG points if you choose to redeem points rather than paying cash at this property.

It’s easy to boost your IHG balance with these IHG One Rewards credit cards:

  • IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. Earn 5 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts; 3 points per dollar spent at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery), at gas stations and on utilities, internet, cable and phone services and select streaming services; 2 points per dollar spent on other purchases (no annual fee)
  • IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. Earn 10 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts; 5 points per dollar spent at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery), at gas stations and on travel and hotels; 3 points per dollar spent on other purchases ($99 annual fee)
  • IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earn 10 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts; 5 points per dollar spent at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery), at gas stations and on travel, hotels, social media, search engine advertising and office supply stores; 3 points per dollar spent on other purchases ($99 annual fee)

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards points to IHG One Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.

Hotel X is not currently available to book through Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or Capital One’s Premier or Lifestyle Collections.

Rooms and suites

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After booking a base room, I was automatically upgraded to a 430-square-foot King Junior Suite at check-in as a result of my IHG One Rewards Platinum status. This status is given to cardholders of the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.

As I strolled the corridors to locate my room, I found the exposed concrete walls, painted with orientation markers, were an edgy yet fun tribute to the street art in the surrounding alleyways.

Inside my sixth-floor suite, the white color scheme — accented with pops of purple and geometric shapes — was certainly eye-catching. There was an especially striking abstract feature above the comfortable king-size bed.

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A stuffy, cookie-cutter corporate hotel this certainly was not. It immediately reminded me of Marriott’s Moxy and W brands, both of which, in my previous experience, have been tailored toward nightlife and cheeky fun.

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I’m pleased to report that Hotel X felt significantly more upscale than Moxy’s bare essential amenities and suggestive hashtags. I find the W brand a little dark and moody for my taste, so I enjoyed the lighter, fresher style of this property. Most of all, I was happy not to be stumbling around dark corridors looking for light switches.

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Rather than using a hard copy directory or searching for hotel information on a television with an unfamiliar remote control, rooms feature a modern, practical and user-friendly tablet. From the tablet, you can streamline room service, peruse restaurant and bar menus, and even request a vehicle to be retrieved from valet parking.

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The room was equipped with two large flat-screen TVs, one in front of the crushed velvet love seat sofa and the other in an odd position, angled high above the bed.

There was a rush of creative energy in the locally inspired artwork, which paid tribute to The Beat, a longtime LGBTQI+ megaclub that I have hazy memories of visiting many moons ago.

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The in-room minibar offered local snacks and drinks for sale, including Red Rock potato crisps and beer from the Felons Brewery just a few blocks from the property. Premixed cocktails, including a blood orange Negroni or espresso martini, were also available.

The King Junior Suite’s bathroom was sleek and spacious. It featured black and white checkerboard styling (even on the slippers) and brushed black metal hooks, rails and taps.

The Karl Lagerfeld toiletries in the walk-in shower with dual shower heads (the brand’s first international hotel collaboration) helped to explain the design style.

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While the small balcony afforded views across Fortitude Valley, the two chairs were a rare misstep in the room’s overall design. The style over substance ethos proved extremely uncomfortable.

What to eat and drink at Hotel X Brisbane, Fortitude Valley

Hotel X offered two food and beverage establishments: French bistro Bisou Bisou is on the ground floor and Iris Spanish bar and restaurant is on the rooftop.

Breakfast is served in Bisou Bisou. It offers unusual takes on traditional options, such as an impressively loaded croissant with sliced avocado, labneh and za’atar. The lighter option of a vegan bowl with pickled and raw vegetables, nut loaf and white bean emulsion arrives on a plate, looking and tasting less impressive than it sounds.

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Bisou Bisou really shined at dinner, though. French for “kiss kiss,” guests can start at the aperitivo bar with Parisian-style tiles before settling into the dining area with its whitewashed brick interior, floral upholstery and antique mirrors.

Cocktails include a Louisiana Purchase made with Angels Envy port finish, bergamot tea and yellow Chartreuse, and the Grape Therapy with Hennessey V.S, JH Rhum, tarragon, cloudy pear and cinnamon soda.

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I tested out the steak tartare appetizer, a benchmark of any French bistro; it came with Ossau-Iraty cheese from the French Basque country, cured egg yolk and potato crisps (22 Australian dollars, about $14.50). The decision to serve lighter-than-air, almost transparent crisps rather than heavier chips was inspired and saved plenty of stomach space for the entree.

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The friendly server encouraged me to try the house specialty of chicken which gets cooked on-site in a historic La Rotisserie oven and comes with a choice of five sauces. I opted for a half chicken for AU$21 ($13.80) with Madeira sauce (made from blonde beer and Madeira wine jus). I got sides of roast potatoes with confit garlic and fried rosemary, French green beans, and cabbage and apple slaw.

The neatly portioned chicken was spectacular — and possibly the juiciest chicken I have ever eaten. If I ever pass through Brisbane again, I will go out of my way to have this delicious rotisserie chicken.

It was a brighter, lighter affair at the rooftop restaurant Iris, where diners can enjoy impressive views of Brisbane’s city center. Iris has proven to be a popular destination for the general public, so you may wish to book a table in advance to avoid disappointment.

The Spanish menu offers smaller tapas nibbles and larger entree-sized dishes. Dishes like a bruschetta of Fraser Island spanner crab with saffron aioli, shaved cuttlefish salad with pickled grapes, and baby octopus with chorizo and lemon (each around AU$25 or $16.50) created a perfect light lunch alongside the Australian summer sunshine.

Common spaces will instantly activate vacation mode

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Arriving jet-lagged and tired after a marathon flight from Europe, the inviting reception areas and warm but relaxed service quickly put my mind at ease.

The geometric patterns continued in the lobby, with gold accents and recessed strip lighting providing a luxury feel.

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Plenty of peaceful breakout areas allowed guests to wait, relax or socialize, with subtle yet playful “X” designs woven in.

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While the service style at Hotel X might veer on the informal and familiar for some guests, it perfectly matches the easy, breezy Queensland lifestyle outside. Check-in was efficient, and the hotel recognized and rewarded my elite status. There was a slight delay in retrieving my vehicle from valet parking because a delivery van was blocking the parking lot entrance, and I was met with profuse apologies.

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The rooftop is a great place to cool off

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Right next to Iris, on the top floor, there’s a fabulous 32-foot swimming pool with 25 sun loungers to soak up the Australian sunshine. While the space receives plenty of curious glances from Iris patrons, it’s reserved for in-house guests only.

Unfortunately, no shade umbrellas are available, so you may need to move positions to take advantage of the limited shade the building provides naturally. While drinks and snacks are available at Iris, poolside service is not offered. You’ll need to dress appropriately if you wish to wander across the rooftop to order something yourself.

A small yet well-equipped gym is available 24/7 and is also reserved solely for guests.

Out and About

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There is no shortage of coffee shops, bars or restaurants near the hotel. These venues have plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy Brisbane’s balmy weather. Head toward the Story Bridge (which is great to walk across for a morning stroll). Or, take the elevator to the enormous Felons Brewery, where you can enjoy local tap beers overlooking the Brisbane River as the sun goes down.

Maya restaurant on nearby Ann Street serves refined Mexican food on a sun-splashed rooftop. It offers a reasonably priced tasting menu, which you may struggle to finish (AU$75 or $49 per person), as well as modern takes on classic Mexican cocktails.

Nearby James Street is a revitalized tropical oasis of upmarket retail and hospitality venues; these spots feel worlds apart from the nightclubs and pubs Fortitude Valley has traditionally been known for. If you wish to dance until dawn, head northwest along Brunswick Street.

Accessibility

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Fortitude Valley is quite hilly, as is Brunswick Street, where the hotel is located. Fortunately, there is step-free access to both the ground-floor lobby and lower-ground Bisou Bisou as well as to all other floors, including the rooftop.

Guests with accessibility needs can also book Accessible King Rooms, which feature bathrooms with adequate turning space, roll-in showers with grab bars, and wheelchair-accessible controls for temperature and lighting.

We always recommend that guests with accessibility needs contact the hotel before making a reservation to confirm the availability of accessible rooms and features.

Checking out

I was skeptical about a luxury hotel in the middle of Brisbane’s traditionally low-rent nightlife district. However, I was thoroughly impressed with Hotel X and surprised by how much Fortitude Valley has changed over the past decade since my last visit.

It’s convenient that the hotel is close to the Brisbane River, the Story Bridge, and a wealth of food, beverage retail and nightlife venues — even if you don’t plan to stay out after dark.

The balance between playful and practical was perfect, and cash and points rates are very reasonable for a property of this standard. I would happily return.

This is the only Hotel X currently in operation (the property was originally slated to be a Kimpton but then changed to a Vignette Collection before opening). However, this style would be a perfect fit for nightlife entertainment destinations beyond Brisbane — especially if they can serve that mouth-watering chicken at Bisou Bisou.

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