The Brisbane River snakes its way through the city and, when it comes to choosing where to stay in Brisbane, you’ll quickly realise that most of the accommodation options are along this arterial waterway.
I love Brisbane and have spent time in all these areas – but what still amazes me is how different they are, even though geographically they’re not far apart. It probably has something to do with the river creating a natural boundary.
As a city, Brisbane is generally very laid back, with people often wearing shorts (and maybe even flip flops) to go out for meals – it is hot, after all! And you’ll find that the best accommodation in Brisbane reflects this casual atmosphere.
At one end, there are some exquisite luxury hotels, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. At the other end, backpacker hostels can be lively places but often most of the action is around a pool area.
And, in between, you’ll find some beautiful areas to stay in Brisbane that feel quite residential and have options ranging from apartments, houses, and boutique hotels.
Although all of the best areas to stay in Brisbane that I’m going to recommend are relatively close to each other, they each have quite distinct characteristics, and it’s worth considering what kind of trip you’re planning for your time here.
- City centre: The most convenient area to stay in Brisbane, with a wide range of accommodation types and easy access to other parts of the city.
- South Bank: There are fewer budget options here but it’s a busy and modern part of the city with many of the main attractions.
- Fortitude Valley: With a reputation as the nightlife area of Brisbane, it attracts a younger crowd, but there are some beautiful boutique and luxury hotels here too.
- New Farm: A quieter neighbourhood that feels more suburban and has access to lovely walks along the river.
- West End: A bit further from the centre, this is a trendy part of the city with cool cafes, boutique shopping, and street art.
- Kangaroo Point: Although it feels quite residential, you get fantastic views of the city centre and are in easy reach of many of the important landmarks.
Before I go into more detail about the best Brisbane neighbourhoods, have a look on the map so you can get a sense of where they’re all located.
For the young (or younger at heart), Fortitude Valley and West End are great choices. For luxury, you may find the city centre or South Bank have the best options. And if you’re staying longer, New Farm or Kangaroo Point might give you something with a bit more space.
You might also like to see my top tips for the best things to do in Brisbane.
With all of that said, let’s have a look in more detail at where to stay in Brisbane and some of my top recommendations for the best Brisbane accommodation.
As with most Australian capitals, the city centre is the most convenient place to stay. You’ll find some of the best Brisbane hotels here, with easy access to other areas.
There’s an excellent range of accommodation options, from backpacker hostels to incredible luxury hotels, with some big new developments on the horizon.
As Brisbane’s main business district, it can feel a little soulless in the evenings and weekends, when the offices are shut and locals are back in the suburbs. But because it’s fairly compact, you’re still close to the busier spots along the river.
In fact, one of the nice things about Brisbane is that things generally aren’t far away, so even if you’re staying in the city centre, you can easily walk to areas like South Bank or Fortitude Valley.
For first time visitors, or people who want to walk to many of the tourist attractions, this is definitely one of the best options for Brisbane accommodation and a good default if you can’t decide where to stay.
- Brisbane City YHA: A very solid choice, it has 24-hour check-in and lots of room type options.
- All Nations Brisbane: This hostel has spacious rooms, with lots of opportunities to mingle on the cool rooftop balcony, the bar, or the restaurant.
If you’re travelling around the country to more places than just Brisbane, you may be interested in my list of the best hostels in Australia.
- George Williams Hotel: Clean and friendly, it’s centrally-located and offers good value for the quality you get.
- Great Southern Hotel: It’s certainly very basic, but it’s also one of the cheapest decent hotels you’ll find in the city centre.
- Kennigo Hotel Brisbane: Starting with the unique facade, the comforting atmosphere extends all the way to the beautiful rooms.
- voco Brisbane City Centre: An interesting design, with great views, and a wonderful swimming pool.
- W Brisbane: Bright and stylish with amazing views across the river or to Mount Coot-tha, there’s a young vibe to the luxurious touches.
- Treasury Brisbane: With more traditional finishings in one of Australia’s grandest heritage buildings, this is one of the city’s most luxurious choices.
This large precinct across the river from the city centre was where the World Expo was held in 1988 and, after that closed, it was redeveloped into a cultural and recreational precinct, with huge parklands and some of Brisbane’s main galleries and museums.
This is a good choice for where to stay in Brisbane if your focus is going to be an event at one of the nearby cultural institutions. But even if you’re planning to do more than that, there’s lots of public transport and you can easily walk across a bridge to the city.
South Bank is one of Brisbane’s main dining areas, so there are lots of great restaurants, cafes, and bars here, making it a really convenient spot for visitors.
The South Bank Parklands are also a lovely place to hang out, with its artificial beach really refreshing on hot days, particularly if you’re staying somewhere without a pool.
The precinct certainly feels like a slightly touristy area because of all the attractions that are here and because the residential parts are mainly limited to apartment blocks.
It also doesn’t have much budget accommodation but the quality of hotels and apartments is generally a high standard.
- Riverside Hotel Southbank: Clean and comfortable in a convenient location, plus a pool and terrace area.
- Riverview Apartment: Two bedrooms with a modern style, lots of space, and beautiful views from the balcony.
- Prime City Retreat: Two bedrooms in a cosy apartment close to the cultural centre for a good price.
- Rydges South Bank: The earthy interior colours at the entrance are a preview of the warm welcome you’ll get here.
- Courtyard by Marriott Brisbane South Bank: Large rooms with comfortable beds, easy access to the sights, and an indoor pool make this a great choice.
On the other side of the city centre is Fortitude Valley (often just called ‘The Valley’ by locals), where you’ll find one of the livelier parts of Brisbane.
Traditionally this has been the nightlife district of the city and there are certainly lots of restaurants and bars here. It’s also a hub of live music and is a great place to catch a performance.
Over recent years, though, there’s been a bit more gentrification here and you’ll find much of Fortitude Valley is less sleazy. There are trendy craft breweries, wine bars, and hipster cafes.
And, with these changes, more boutique accommodation has arrived, along with some good luxury options around areas that have seen an increase in office buildings.
Staying in Fortitude Valley puts you close enough to the city centre to walk, or there’s good public transport to other parts of Brisbane. You’re also slightly closer to the airport, which can save a little bit of time.
- Brisbane Manor: Although it’s seen better days and probably wouldn’t be your first choice, at least it’s cheap!
- FV by Peppers: The different-sized apartments are sleek and modern, there’s a great pool with a view, and you’re right in the heart of the valley.
- The Miro Apartments: Inspired by the Spanish artist, the apartments are colourful as well as being equipped with kitchens, some also with balconies.
- The Constance: Reflecting the vibe of the valley, it’s got a funky design and is located right in the centre of the cultural district.
- Sage Hotel James Street: With a contemporary design and welcoming atmosphere, you’ll feel right at home here.
- Hotel X Brisbane Fortitude Vly: From the rooftop pool and bar to the elegant rooms, there’s enough here to be a destination in itself.
- Ovolo The Valley: Another of my favourite Brisbane hotels – partly because it has a free minibar (which I think is such a cool touch).
Although it’s still pretty close to the city centre, staying in New Farm will make you feel like you’re in the suburbs. Leafy streets, large houses, and quiet areas make this a really relaxing area.
One of the things I like about New Farm is that you’re close to a less-developed part of the Brisbane River. A walking trail the whole way along its northern bank gives you the perfect excuse for some morning exercise, with some friendly cafes along the way for breakfast.
Because it’s quite residential, many of the best places to stay in New Farm are apartments and houses, which is good for families or large groups.
But because it’s still such a convenient location, recently a few excellent boutique hotels have popped up, with stunning renovations of old properties giving you a luxurious experience away for the hustle of the city centre.
- Serenity and Style: For something a bit larger, this apartment has three bedrooms and a private pool.
- Clay House: If you need something even larger, this lovely four-bedroom house is a traditional Queenslander.
- Heal House: From the beautiful garden, to the immaculately clean interior, you’ll feel right at home here.
- Edward Lodge: A delightful renovation has turned this heritage property into a slice of style surrounded by leafy suburban streets.
One of the more interesting places to stay in Brisbane, West End is a neighbourhood on the rise.
While it still retains elements of its multicultural and working class heritage, it’s become one of the coolest parts of the city in recent years, with funky street art, boutique shopping, and great restaurants.
It’s a bit further from the city centre than my other suggestions for where to stay in Brisbane, but this is what’s helped West End create its own identity with a vibrant neighbourhood feel.
Some of the best backpacker accommodation in Brisbane is found in West End, so it’s a good option for budget travellers. But it also has great apartments and houses, which fit with the residential feel of the area.
There aren’t too many hotels here, which is one of the reasons it’s often not a top choice for Brisbane accommodation, but that’s also part of its charm if you’re looking for a part of the city that feels a little more authentic.
- Brisbane Backpackers Resort: Another fun options with an outdoor pool and balcony, along with large rooms.
- Gonow Family Backpackers Hostel: There’s a great kitchen and bbq area if you want to cook, along with good room and a great location.
- Modern One-Bedroom: Clean and spacious, there’s a rooftop pool and is close to public transport.
- Brand New Riverside: A new designer apartment, it has two bedrooms, pool access, and views from the balcony.
- Sunny Home: Private and quiet, there’s a lovely garden and large balcony in this two-bedroom house.
Kangaroo Point is right across the river from the city centre and has beautiful views of the CBD from its clifftops, particularly at night.
Although it’s geographically close to many of the main attractions, it actually takes a little time to get there because you have to go around to one of the bridges. But this is one of the reasons it has more of a residential atmosphere.
Still, there’s a fair amount of development in Kangaroo Point, which means lots of places to eat and drink, adding a level of convenience to staying here.
With parklands, walking trails, and even kayaking from the bottom of the cliffs, there’s a natural beauty to the neighbourhood even though it’s so close to the city.
You’ll find some good apartments here, as well as a couple of lovely boutique hotels – and there’s even a modern hostel for the budget-minded.
This may not be the most convenient location for a first-time visitor who wants easy access to all the sights, but it’s definitely got a special feel to it that you’ll appreciate if you’re not in a rush.
- Bridgewater Apartments: From studios to three bedrooms, these well-maintained apartments have great views across to the city.
- Central Dockside Apartment Hotel: There’s a warm homely feel to these one and two bedroom apartments right on the water.
- The Point Brisbane Hotel: A great place with comfortable rooms, free parking, a late checkout and an onsite restaurant.