Written by Maria Shollenbarger
Remote, beachy, and surprisingly hip, Perth is Australia’s fastest-growing city.
Perth has long had an image problem. Topographically, Western Australia’s capital calls to mind a smaller, flat Seattle, with low-rise neighborhoods framed by Norfolk pines and the tropical-green Indian Ocean. And though its white sand beaches are legendary, the city itself was seen as little more than an upstart frontier town—a place several hours’ flying time from any “nice part” of the country, where the hard-nosed could make a fortune in mining but style was in short supply.
How things have changed: Today, Perth is more cash-inundated than ever, thanks to China’s insatiable appetite for minerals, while the city has grown improbably diverse (about one in three residents was born overseas). Now, chefs with name recognition are arriving to open restaurants, hip shopping districts are popping up, and once dodgy neighborhoods are becoming destinations unto themselves. Nor does Perth plan to slow down: A $1 billion waterfront development, an underground train line, a major new museum, an enormous sports arena, and an airport expansion are all forthcoming. The expected wave of business travelers and (assumedly) tourists will have their choice of new hotels, with Ritz-Carlton, Starwood, and Westin all opening locations here in the next two years. But the big news—and perhaps the most surprising—is COMO The Treasury, the latest from Christina Ong’s COMO Hotels and Resorts and the brand’s first-ever property in Australia.
Of course, this being Australia, all things begin and end with food. Executive chef Jed Gerrard, who worked at Tetsuya Wakuda in Sydney, runs Wildflower, the hotel’s glassed-in rooftop restaurant. Just downstairs from The Treasury is David Thompson’s Thai street- food joint, Long Chim, and Petition Kitchen, a café-meets-gastro from Cumulus alum Jesse Blake that serves killer flat whites in the morning and kingfish crudo in a ginger vinaigrette with your pint. Suddenly, the frontier town is looking like the true pioneer.
PERTH’S HIT LIST
Alex Hotel: Located in once-dingy-now- fabulous Northbridge, the Alex is low-key hip (loaner bikes; honor bars) but still gives us what we want: quality linens and a spectacular break- fast spread (from $162).
Cottesloe Beach: A near mile-long swath of vanilla-white sand that earns every “best beach” accolade it’s garnered over the last hundred-odd years.
Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House: Chef Joel Valvasori-Pereza takes a cue from his Italian forebearers here, where small plates (try the Aperol-cured kingfish with juniper oil) are paired with Italian and Australian wines.
Print Hall: Four restaurants and bars share space in this former newspaper house; the namesake bar and restaurant is where you’ll find us with a dozen fresh-shucked oysters and some cold Australian white from the 22,000-bottle-strong cellar.
Featured on Condé Nast Traveler 14 December 2015