STORY: SUSAN KUROSAWA
Opened less than a year and already scooping tourism awards, COMO The Treasury Perth has enjoyed instant success with those who love a historic property.
Australia has few grand hotels in this category. There’s The Windsor in Melbourne, the lower storeys of Hotel InterContinental Sydney, and various clever conversions of smaller period buildings, but COMO The Treasury Perth feels truly monumental, the kind of grandiose edifice you’d expect to see straddling a prized corner block in London’s heritage heart.
A generously spread-out inventory of 48 guestrooms and suites is arrayed across four floors within the fabric of the State Buildings, an interconnected trio of late 19th-century red brick and Kimberley stone edifices that variously served as General Post Office, Land Titles Office and Treasury departments until the complex was left vacant in 1996.
Developer Adrian Fini, of Little Creatures brewing company fame, spent almost two decades battling bureaucracy and lobbying state governments to acquire and reinvigorate the buildings, creating a precinct of five-star accommodation, retail outlets with an emphasis on local suppliers, restaurants and bars.
The co-venture with COMO for the hotel management is a good fit; it’s the Singapore-based company’s first Australian venture, consolidating its relationship with Thai food guru David Thompson, whose Nahm has been such a hit at COMO Metropolitan Bangkok. In Perth, the uncompromising chef’s Long Chim restaurant - with eclectic decor, zesty kaffir lime cocktails and Thai street foodinspired fare the likes of chilli-rich orange fish curry - is beyond the hotel proper, in the basement of the State Buildings.
West Australian architect Kerry Hill, creator of acclaimed urban sanctuaries such as Aman Tokyo, has revived the conjoined Victorian dowager piles, reinstalled myriad original features and restored mouldings and wide-planked jarrah floors. It’s hard to believe, for example, that the utilitarian Postal Hall of the one-time GPO ever looked as swish as Hill’s version, now flanked by shops and eateries set beneath an upper gallery and radiant clerestory. It’s not such a stretch to imagine you’re in a side arcade of Milan’s centrepiece Galleria; a fashionable Italian aperitif won’t be far away, but neither is a West Australian craft beer or a champagne truffle from local chocolatier Sue Lewis.
Rather than fusty interiors referencing a long-gone era, the hotel spaces are unified by a palette of pale greys and greens, limed oak timbers, and a cool and uncluttered sense of volume. Oversized guestrooms, in various categories and configurations, feature snowy Egyptian cottons on custom-made beds, complimentary mini bar and Illy coffee machine. Ensuites are the size of minor ice rinks, with twin travertine basins, triple-head showers and heated floors. Hallways are so luxuriously wide, it wouldn’t seem inconceivable if a horse-drawn carriage or a gaggle of hoop-skirted court ladies were to pass by.
Perfect for: Ultimate Indulgence packages for couples; for families, a two-night City Escape deal features two guestrooms with an average of 50 per cent off the second.
Must do: Book a pampering session at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa, housed in the old vaults; there’s a lovely third-floor annexe with 20m heated pool and wall of louvred windows. Check Philippa Nikulinsky’s beautiful series of Cape Arid botanical watercolours displayed in the three quietly elegant salons of the ground-floor Treasury Lounge and Bar.
Dining: For fab fare with an emphasis on seasonal produce, pop up for lunch or dinner to Wildflower, a window-walled cube on the fourth floor with panoramic views, bar and indoor-outdoor seating. The bistro-style Post (off the original postal hall) serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start the morning with delicious “real toast” topped with lime-drenched avocado from the COMO Shambhala healthy cuisine menu and a health-giving vegetable juice. Other tenants of the linked buildings include Petition Kitchen (hipster central, with exposed bricks and formwork) and Petition Beer Corner.
Getting there: About 16km from Perth airport; the State Buildings redevelopment is bordered by Cathedral Avenue, St Georges Terrace and Hay and Barrack Streets in the city’s heart.
Bottom line: From $595 a double; Ultimate Indulgence packages, with champagne, spa treatments, degustation dinner at Wildflower and other extras from $1895 a couple for two nights.