The Art Series Hotel Group is said to have transformed the Australian hotel market when it launched in 2009. Dedicated to Australian contemporary art each hotel takes inspiration from its namesake artist. Zara Horner reports on the latest offering – Brisbane’s The Fantauzzo.

The brain-child of former owner the Deague family, Art Series is one of Australia’s fastest growing hotel groups.

The 166-suite Fantauzzo

The Art Series Hotel Group was sold to Mantra Group in 2017, with AccorHotels acquiring Mantra’s 128-property portfolio in May 2018. However, commitment to the Art Series properties remains unchanged and the first hotel under the title to open since the Accor acquisition is the AUD60 million, six-storey Fantauzzo.

The property has been carved into the cliffs which rise up from the Brisbane River taking full advantage of sweeping city views, including the iconic Story Bridge.

The hotel is Brisbane’s second Art Series property – the first being The Johnson which opened in 2016 – and is situated in 2.7 hectares of natural parkland overlooking Brisbane’s newest entertainment hub the recently revitalised Howard Smith Wharves.

Originally constructed in the 1930s the wharves are heritage listed and a wonderful example of early infrastructure in this vibrant city. The AUD100 million precinct now delivers a brewery, green space, picnic areas, live music venues, two indoor events spaces, and overwater bars and restaurants, with The Fantauzzo at its centre.

Artfully designed

The now eight Art Series boutique properties (five in Melbourne, one in South Australia and two in Brisbane) offer “a hotel experience with a difference”.

Original artworks and giclee prints feature throughout, while complementary art tours and dedicated in-room art channels and even utensils are designed to encourage guests to embrace their own creativity.

The 166-suite Fantauzzo includes a rooftop pool and bar – literally under the Story Bridge – a state-of-the-art gym and function rooms. Named after British-born Australian portrait artist Vincent Fantauzzo, the painter has infused the hotel with his works and personality “to create an art-inspired hotel experience.”

rooftop pool
The rooftop pool and bar sits right beneath the iconic Story Bridge.

The Hutchinson built property has been designed by multi-disciplinary practice SJB Architects in collaboration with Deague Group and Furn-niche interior designers.

The natural tones and textures of the hotel’s exterior ensure it blends into the cliff face with the façade’s geometry referencing “the fragmented cliff shapes and highly engineered bridge”, while a double-height wall of glass affords the lobby a unique rugged outlook.

All suites have state-of-the-art comforts and technologies as well as “Art Series signature bedding”. The rooms enjoy either city views across the Brisbane River or “cascading greenery and sculptured rock face.” Vincent Fantauzzo and his actress wife Asher Keddie were responsible for choosing specially curated artworks for each guest room.

“Art Series Hotels take design inspiration from the namesake artist and the key for The Fantauzzo was to ensure the exterior and furnishings complemented the exciting photo-realistic artwork by Vincent Fantauzzo,” director of sales and marketing, Emily Pearl explains.

“The modulating geometry of the façade takes influence from the robust trusses of the Story Bridge overhead, while muted, earthy tones borrowed from the cliff face define the palette.

“Tropical landscaping and overhanging vines complement the cliff’s natural foliage.”

The overall effect is a building that blends in with its surroundings, a complementary backdrop to the unique heritage structures on the site.

Room accents include raw cement ceilings, statement lighting and matt-black bathroom finishes, “set off with jewel tones and touches of gold through interior elements, all of which is designed to create a luxurious industrial haven,” Pearl says.

Minimalist luxe in the bathrooms.

Furniture designer and manufacturer, Furn-niche attribute the success of the furniture design to its sense of place and functionality.

“To accommodate the different shapes and sizes of the rooms, modular style sofas in striking emerald green were selected,” Pearl explains, “allowing a variety of combinations.

“Comfort and useability were not compromised in the designs with only high-quality materials being sourced, ensuring luxury, and longevity.”

Guest feedback has been “really positive around the room design and colour palettes”, Pearl enthuses, adding: “Vincent caters to such a wide audience with his vast range of works – there is truly something for everyone.”