I have to confess: before this stay, I have never heard of the Next Hotel chain. Next Hotel is one of the many brands under Next Story Group, a unique company that dabbles in hospitality, brand and marketing services and design. Under its portfolio, there are also several brands. Apart from the Next hotels, the group also owns Sage hotels, an a very interesting concept in Taiwan called Kafnu.
I was told that the group’s head office is based in Singapore, to my surprise. The group has no property in Singapore at the time of writing, but a little research revealed that they have most recently taken ownership of the New Cape Inn in 2017 and was expected to run it under one of its brands.
The hotel is right in the heart of Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall, with its front entrance leading right straight onto the pedestrian walkway lined with shops. The excellent location also means that you are just minutes walk away from the Brisbane River and major transport options.
The 26-storey hotel with 304 rooms gives a mix of a vibe: funky yet calming. The reception on level 2 is a bustle of activity, with the in-house restaurant Lennon’s right next to it, there are plenty of people passing through the floor throughout the day. However, once you get into the guests-only Next Lounge on level 4, it becomes a sight of calm where you can drown in free-flow coffee and do your reading or work all afternoon.
I arrived in the morning not expecting to get a room, but to my surprise the room was already ready for me to use, which was great. However, if you arrive too early and your room is not ready yet, the hotel offers two shower suites and three sleep pods on level 4 if you need to freshen up or take a nap, the first of its kind that I’ve seen in any hotel. There are also luggage lockers on level 4 for you to store your items while you nap, although you can always check them in at the reception.
I stayed in the Superior Queen room for the two nights I was here. At first glance, the room was very generous in space at 24 sqm, but also felt was rather dated. They also made use of an open concept bathroom which can easily be boarded up for privacy, although the bathroom didn’t come with a bathtub to my disappointment.
However, the room came with a smartphone which you could bring out for data hotspot, which is rather uncommon for an Aussie hotel.
For bath amenities, Next Hotel has gone with local brand Biology Skin. They smelt rather generic (I didn’t try the toiletries as I usually bring my own), although its website claimed that they were “free of sulphates, parabens and other harmful chemicals”.
What’s incredibly interesting was that all guests could take four items out of the minibar for free everyday – including the cider and the beer. This is incredibly handy given that Aussie hotels generally do not provide complimentary bottled water as the tap dishes out perfectly drinkable water. Every item after the first four will be A$4, while the alcoholic stuff cost A$8. Also, they rely on an honour system, you are to declare the excess you took from the fridge and they will not check it for you.
What’s in the Hotel?
The hotel offers all guests access to the Next Lounge, which provides all-day coffee and tea for guests. Unlike other properties which offer a club lounge, there’s nothing of that sort. The lounge is a good space and during the several times I went down to level 4, there was always people there either doing their work, or having a drink at the bar.
The hotel also has an outdoor pool on level 4 overlooking Queen Street mall, although I will recommend avoiding it in the late afternoon given that there’s a pool bar that overflows with people both days I was there.
The bar is a happy place – it serves up happy hour with A$6 beers and A$8 cocktails from 6pm to 7pm daily, as well as a decent menu of bar bites ranging from fried items to salads. Couple that with a great location, no wonder there were throngs of people there every day when I stayed there.
In the Next Lounge there’s also a self-service 24-hour fridge stashed with water, soft drinks and snacks. Again it’s on an honour system: you take something out of the fridge, and you charge it to your room by scanning your room key in the register next to it and selecting the item you took.
While I didn’t have my dinners there throughout my stay, breakfast was included in my stay.
The breakfast spread was rather simple: the continental breakfast is laid out as a buffet, consisting of fruits, yogurt, pastries of all kinds, toasts and spreads, salad and self-service coffee and tea. If you will like a hot breakfast, they have a limited menu with four options you could choose from: Ham Benedict, Bacon & Eggs your way, Potato Rosti and French Toast.
I had the continental option one day, and the hot breakfast another. The only memorable thing to write about was the savoury muffin that I think had spinach, tomatoes and feta cheese in it – that would have been much better if I could toast it.
If you didn’t have breakfast included, you could still dine at the hotel restaurant for either A$19.95 for a continental breakfast or A$29.95 for a hot breakfast. I will recommend that you go elsewhere for breakfast for a fraction of that price.
Overall, the hotel is rather good value for money – for A$159 on a weekend night, it’s a great price to pay for two people at a great location in the heart of Brissy. You will get to save a lot on transport given that everything’s within walking distance or the free City Hopper ferries, and the free mini bar gives you a treat to relax and enjoy, whether you need a beer or some potato chips to unwind at the end of the night.
What you probably want to skip is the breakfast, at that price you are better off looking at the plenty of cafe options within walking distance, or maybe even just grab something from the takeaway bar where a coffee and muffin will set you back by less than A$10.
The Next brand is also a great brand: you are constantly reminded of your ‘next’ stay, your ‘next’ breakfast, your ‘next’ everything, in its happy and youthful colours and style. While the rooms may be a little dated but that’s the least of my concerns, I felt incredibly comfortable through my entire stay and will definitely be back.
To book, visit https://www.nexthotels.com/next/brisbane/
The stay is hosted by Tourism & Events Queensland while the opinions are of my own.