At Embrace Brisbane, we’re all about bringing you the best that our glittering river city has to offer. So we’ve put our holiday caps on to bring you a Staycation Guide series of the best places you can relax like a carefree traveller right here in Bris-Vegas. 

Staycation spot: Rydges South Bank
Ideal for: a theatre “stay and play” package and some cultural sight seeing.
Make sure you: have a cocktail and a dip at Soleil Pool Bar.

When Broadway comes to Brisbane, there’s one place it goes to really feel at home: Queensland Performing Arts Complex aka QPAC. And there’s one hotel that loves partnering with the arts to deliver a staycation experience with all the razzle dazzle: Rydges South Bank. This time they’re the official partner hotel of the 1920’s jazz-tastic musical Chicago and they’re providing stay and play packages to die for… well, not literally but it matches with the show theme, so go with me here. 

Cast of Chicago Brisbane posing in the middle of a song under stage lights
All that jazz at Chicago in Brisbane.

Rydges South Bank is an excellent spot to stay to experience our cultural precinct from a new point of view. Situated across the road from South Bank Parklands, and smack bang in the middle of the Grey Street foodie precinct, the possibilities for your stay are endless. 

A staycation full of culture

Honestly, if you want to be a tourist in your own city, this hotel is the ideal homebase from which to begin your journey.

Rydges South Bank is right across the road from QPAC, which means it’s only natural that the hotel would be the official partner of some of the best shows Brisbane has to offer. This time, it’s Chicago and when I arrive, there’s two shiny gold bars of Chicago-themed chocolate waiting for me in my room (and they are SCRUMPTIOUS).

And forget about the fuss of booking theatre tickets—that’s already taken care of for me by the hotel staff, so all I have to do is fancy myself up and pick them up from the concierge on my way to the show. 

Two bars of chocolate with Chicago musical wrappers on a marble table in front of a couch
A very sweet surprise in my room. Yum!

It’s barely a five minute walk from the hotel to the Lyric, and you get to stroll through the picturesque parklands on the way. 

And RIGHT THERE, next to that, there’s also the Queensland Cultural Centre, home to the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Queensland Museum, SparkLab aka the Science Centre and the State Library of Queensland. 

I could honestly spend a week here and still not have seen everything nearby that’s artsy and amazing. 

A room with a view 

My suite at Rydges had me feeling like I was on top of the world. I head up in the elevators and arrive in a stunning plush suite in regal silvery greys with playful pops of violet. When I open the door, the curtains are all drawn, with swish moody backlighting and air con so frostily perfect that I almost forget Brisbane was in the middle of a heatwave sprung from the very bowels of hell. 

Rydges Hotel King Suite hotel room with white linen on a carpet adorned with a purple swirl
A room fit for a king (ahem, or queen).
Elizabeth Best, a girl with brown hair poses in a mirror while taking a photo of her hotel room.
Peekaboo, there’s me! Loving the high life at Rydges.

My lounge proves the perfect place to finish my work for the day. (WFH now stands for Work From Hotel, I will not be taking further questions at this time.) My room is huge, with swirly regal purple carpet, a king bed that feels like it’s made out of a cloud, and a balcony featuring an incredible view. 

The King Suite has me feeling like a VIP so I decide to swan around and act like it for a while—pop the champagne cork, pour me some bubbles and hit the balcony to survey my new domain. 

And holy WOW THAT VIEW. The vista from up there is truly something else. Just look! 

I could get used to this. 

A view of South Bank from the balcony of Rydges South Bank, including rows of shops and the brisbane river
South Bank from above it all.

Dive into the pool bar

Before the show, we’re treating ourselves to a grazing platter and cocktails put on by the fab hotel, so we head up to the very swanky Soleil Pool Bar. The vibes up here are immaculate, from the pool and cabana area, to the impressive LED ceiling display, to the open air cocktail tables.

People mill around a lively bar at night time, the bar has an LED screen on the ceiling projecting starlight.
Soleil at night is a VIBE. Image: supplied.

The menu is Chicago themed (because Rydges have thought of everything) so we feast on mini Chicago hot dog, pork belly bites, and a mini glazed chocolate donut with (be still my beating heart) BACON. 

They even have themed cocktails, so I order a Roxie and my companion orders a Velma. Both are delish cause you KNOW I made him give me a lil’ sip. 

Then it was off to the theatre for all that jazz. 

Top down photo of two cocktails and a grazing platter of hot dogs, donuts and pork belly.
A little taste of Chicago.
Two cocktails sit on a table, in front of a balcony rail and plants.
Meet Roxie and Velma!

Time to be a tourist

After a fab show, I slept so soundly in my luxurious room that I might have overslept, but that was fine because I had me a late checkout. 

Breakfast time was downstairs in the divine Bacchus restaurant, where I treated myself to pretty much everything on the buffet. Pastries, fruit, cheese, eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausages… yes even pork buns (and then back to pastries for breakfast dessert). 

I almost can’t squeeze into my bathing suit for a leisurely swim afterwards, but I MUST because if there’s a pool and you don’t swim in it, was there really even a pool? I definitely enjoy this refreshing swim in the Brisbane heat. 

A girl with brown hair and big sunglasses in a black bathing suit smiles at the camera. There is a pool in the background.
Cannot leave without lazing by the pool.

When I check out after lazing by the pool for a few hours, I am well and truly rested and recharged and ready to wander around South Bank, looking at the markets and soaking in some of the prettiest views in the city. 

That’s one of the very best things about Rydges: it’s right in the heart of one of the most picturesque places in Brisbane with so many cultural touch points, there’s almost not enough time to see them all. Do I walk around the parklands? Do I go see the dinosaurs at the museum? Should I pop over to QAGOMA to see the Fairytales exhibit while I am here?

Yes. All the yes.

Rydges South Bank, 9 Glenelg St, South Brisbane QLD 4101, (07) 3364 0800

Elizabeth Best

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