Perth, as you’ve no doubt heard, is the new ‘it’ Australian city. Sydneysiders claim their beaches are just as good, Brisbanites claim their weather is just as lovely and of course, Melbournians still claim that nowhere in the world could be as perfect as Melbourne – but the fact remains that more and more people are flying west to soak up the sun and atmosphere of this very cool coastal metropolis. Get in on the action before everyone else does and you can’t get a reservation anywhere.
Here’s our idea of a perfect weekend away in Perth…
After giving yourself an early mark and flying into Perth in the early evening, check into Est Living favourite Alex Hotel, an easy 20-minute taxi ride from the airport. Choose from a variety of room sizes, designed to suit all sorts of travellers. The ‘Small’ rooms start at $190/night and come with all the usual mod-con features: real windows, a flat screen TV and comfy beds.
If you’re feeling especially tired/lazy, Alex Hotel’s own Shadow Wine Bar is right downstairs. Perfect if you want good wine and modern European fare that you can charge straight back to your room and worry about later. Although with $150 of complimentary credit, you can go crazy without your bank calling with concerns.
For those looking for a bit more of a wander, the options are far-reaching and delicious. We love Baby Mammoth, which offers South African fare with characteristic soul. Definitely try the Goat Bunny Chow: delicious chunks of Durban-style goat served in a hollowed-out bun. It’s classic bistro – bentwood stools, moody lighting – with a twist of worldly eclecticism. Worth booking ahead to avoid disappointment.
After stuffing your face with dishes from all over the world, retire back to your temporary home for some relaxing comfort and free movies.
Above: The Alex Hotel
Above: The Shadow Wine Bar at the Alex Hotel.
If you’re an early riser like our friends in the northern states, then we recommend a walk/run around Kings Park to salute the sun and take in the breathtaking view of the Swan River. Those on a budget or a hangover can make for Alex Hotel’s complimentary breakfast bar to fuel up for the big day ahead. The breakfast is simple and delicious and worth doing at least once during your stay here.
Otherwise collect your complimentary Lekker bike from reception and make your way to local favourite Chu Bakery designed by Mata Design Studio, which is obviously really cool because it doesn’t even have a website. Grab a croissant (and a doughnut, considering you’re on holidays) with a coffee to go. Cross the road to laze in Hyde Park while you crumble pastry all over yourself.
Above: Chu Bakery on the William Street side of Hyde Park.
Fremantle, a breezy half hour train trip from Perth’s CBD, has a nation-renowned arts community and a lifestyle that will keep you coming back for more. Start your morning at the Fremantle Arts Centre, a one-stop shop to eat, shop, view exhibition, listen to live music and take a workshop or class.
One of the creepiest buildings you may have ever seen, the Fremantle Prison has an almost mythic status in Perth, with many urban legends. Originally built in the 19th century by convicts, the prison opened to the public and tourists in 1992. The best way to experience this place is to take a guided tour filled with tales and history (and a few spine-chilling moments). Entry is free of charge, or explore the underground labyrinth of tunnels by booking ahead.
Above: Fremantle Prison
With 150 stalls, the Fremantle Markets are the place to shop – if your a market goer that is. The covered marketplace stocks wares and fresh food by local artists, producers and retailers. There’s jewellery, art, homewares, photography, clothes and much more… but most importantly for this time of day, they have plenty of lunch options. Other stores worth mentioning in Fremantle are Empire Homewares, who have been styling homes in the west for over two decades, and the Fremantle Arts Centre for unearthing unique wares made by local artists.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat and a menu filled with seasonal, local fare then Young George Bar + Kitchen is another option for lunch after traipsing around the streets. Little Creatures, the well-known Australian brewery, is also based here in Fremantle. Saturday afternoon beers don’t get much better than a locally-sourced and produced pale ale. Continue with an afternoon beer sesh or explore the many boutiques dotted around town.
When you’ve exhausted yourself from wandering around this amazing town, jump back on the train to head back to the CBD.
Above: Found at the Fremantle Arts Centre.
Holidays are for reliving classic traditions, such as dinner and a show. So after a quick nap (sightseeing is exhausting!), jump in a cab to the chic Print Hall, designed by Projects of Imagination, this is one of Perth’s brightest stars in the foodie landscape. The service is fine-dining-formal and the food is full of delicious reimagined classics that compliment the Parisian bistro-vibe. Champagne is available by the glass (but you’re on holidays, so just buy a bottle, seriously) and the cellar is mightier than any sword. For fellow designers, the modern, timber-rich room is full of heritage details combined with finished of spotted gum, herringbone terrazzo floors and amazing tiling work to look out for.
Above: Served at Print Hall
Listed as a State Heritage Icon, His Majesty’s Theatre (or ‘The Maj’) is home to the Museum of Performing Arts, WA Opera and the West Australian Ballet. Over its year, the Edwardian-era stage has been graced by performers such as Anna Pavlova, Robert Helpmann, Katherine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Rex Harisson and Geoffrey Rush. The interiors, we’re just saying, are also extraordinary.
Hidden down a lane, Helvetica is ideal for a secret sojourn after dinner. The whisky menu is extensive, and you can even buy the bottle and keep it behind the bar for next time. There are other offerings if you prefer a different nip and a small bar menu of snacks if you’re feeling ready for supper.
After breakfast, go for a short stroll – or bike ride – to The Yoga Vine to stretch out all those walking pains with a Sunday vinyasa. Throw on something over your singlet and come home via The Art Gallery of Western Australia, which has a strong emphasis on works from the Indian Ocean Rim and has one of the world’s finest collections of Indigenous art. The gallery occupies a precinct of three heritage buildings as part of the Perth Cultural Centre, and all of them are worth seeing for their beautiful architecture.
Finish off the morning with dim sum at Dragon Palace and eat until you can eat no more! For next time, remember that they have karaoke rooms available…
After checking out at the luxurious hour of 1pm, finish your sightseeing by spending some tourist dollars are some of the city’s best design and homewares stores.
If you can get to Claremont there are a few must see stores. Mobilia being one of them for its collection of beautifully designed furniture from a selection of mostly Spanish design brands. In nearby Nedlands, Elle Boutique is regarded as one of the country’s most sophisticated fashion stores with their highly sought after curation of international brands such as Isabel Marant, Celine, Acne, Helmut Lang to name a few. Definitely with a visit.
In the city, Dilettante is the store for all of your Marni, Lanvin, Rick Owens and Comme des Garçons needs while on a more budget friendly front, Ruck Rover General Store is a giftware and clothing store specialising in independent labels for men, women and children, as well as stationery, homewares and photography. Oxford Street Books is an independent bookstore with a local reputation for having the best design and photography section.
Pigeonhole has a huge selection of independent fashion, design, homewares, art, photography, stationery, vintage wares, and other lovely bits and pieces that make for good gifts for the present cupboard. Remedy, a cosy homewares boutique, sells all things beautiful – from knives to water carafes to native timber serving boards.
Above: Mobilia in Claremont offers a fresh new take on homewares and furniture.
Don’t forget about the time distance when flying back east, as you’ll gain two hours and be shocked at how much you need to do before you go back to work tomorrow. So don’t worry too much about FOMO; you’ll be back.