24 hours in Perth
Author: Laurence Rosier Staines
Far from its one-time reputation as a bed-and-breakfast town for miners, Perth's cultural cred is at a premium with some of the best food and drink in the country - and it'll only get better. From breakfast to beach to breweries, it's a 24-hour day in the west. Here's your itinerary after flying in.
Where to stay
The Alex Hotel is only half an hour from the airport and is a stylish blend of modern-European design that would feel at home in Barcelona. From the outside it resembles a stack of minimalist dominoes; inside it's comfortable and communal. Stay here for its boutique artsiness and top-tier location.
If you're seeking something a little further upmarket it's COMO The Treasury, a five star outfit and our 2016 Hotel of the Year, located amid the old government buildings on Elizabeth Quay. With faultless design and terrific service, the best thing is still possibly the food; chef Jed Gerrard oversees two superb in-house restaurants (Wildflower and Post). Make a reservation for lunch or dinner at these even if you're staying elsewhere.
Breakfast can easily stretch to brunch, and Mary Street Bakery is a top place to do it. Fuel up at either of their two locations on coffee, croissants and eggs - or with escargot, squid ink tagliatelle, a tremendous fried chicken pancake and more if it's later in the day. Settle the bill with your American Express Explorer Card and take advantage of earning two points for every AU$1 spent* - your next trip's paying for itself.
At over 400 hectares, Kings Park is one of the world's biggest city parks and certainly one of the most diverse, containing over 300 species of unique flora as well as numerous walks, towers and festivities to keep one occupied. Looking out over Swan River from a shady spot is a perfect afternoon pastime, but don't go too far afield. Lalla Rookh's Italian fare is worth heading back for, whether it's beef carpaccio, blue swimmer crab linguine or pappardelle with rabbit and cabbage. Dining with a friend? The salumi plate is a sound investment.
Perth isn't hugely centralised, but rather a cluster of mini-hubs with character all their own. With this in mind, head out to Fremantle for a wander. Brave the markets if it's a weekend; if not, try the nearby breweries and beachfront bars. A schooner as the sun dips over the Indian Ocean is hard to beat.
Dinner has to be Long Chim back at the treasury building. David Thompson's cuisine can even give Bangkok restaurants a run for their money, and here his menu offers far more than just chilli heat. Freshness with a kick can be found in the miang kham, chicken larp and his green curry. Cool down with a Mig-21 cocktail (or a Highball), or any of Greg Plowes' superb wines.
COMO The Treasury
For evening drinks, Mechanics Institute Bar is a Northbridge favourite thanks to its rooftop views and good vibes. Bartender friendliness seems to be a prerequisite here, but doesn't come at the expense of talent with a cocktail shaker. Alternatively there's The Dominion League, which boasts everything from craft beers upstairs to Yamakazi Sherry Cask in the basement cocktail den - it's magic lined with velour. Drink up, and dance.
It's hard to trace the chronology but Gordon Street Garage may have been on the front-foot of the industrial-chic cafe trend, set in a huge converted warehouse and roasting single-origin beans in-house for your morning long black. Just as delicious are the pancakes with salted caramel, banana, hazelnuts and cream - a particularly hedonistic way to end your trip.
This article is presented by the American Express Explorer Card. Want to get there now? With 100,000 Bonus Points* when you sign up for the Explorer Card and spend AU$1,500 in the first three months, you'll be in Perth before you know it. Offer ends 15 May 2017.
*Terms and conditions apply. Visit American Express Explorer for more information.