Join me as I travel, play, eat, live and work in cities and places around the world.
Published September 4th 2012
My global schedule often results in a large percentage of time spent living in hotels. In the past 10 years, I've stayed in excess of 200 hotels, from the history-rich old dames to modern contemporaries, from luxury deluxe to the mass market affordable in different parts of the world.
There are definitely favourites for business, leisure and events but I can't seem to find one in Perth. Fortunately the searching revealed the Pensione Hotel Perth, previously known as Aarons Hotel Perth, a nondescript property located in the heart of the city.
The hotel room situation in Perth is somewhat unique to the rest of Australia. Firstly there aren't many quality international hotel brands in the city with world-class facilities, large rooms and mind-blowing customer service - Pan Pacific remains a favourite for its moderate pricing but rooms are small. Hyatt Regency is the largest and possibly best equipped hotel in the CBD, but it could use more refurbishment. The Intercontinental has been replaced by Crown Metropol to the dismay of IHG guests.
It currently has the highest occupancy rates in the country, as a result of demand outstripping supply. This means the average hotel room rate goes up so except to pay in excess of AUD200 for a small room in a 3-star local brand. This is the result of business travellers during the mid-week. You just have to wait for a conference for prices of the standard hotel rooms to soar between AUD300 to AUD700 a night. Perth has just waved leisure tourism goodbye.
Despite the strong hotel market, only 223 new rooms have opened in Perth since 2006 and no new hotels have been built. The reason is investors are concerned that the hotel market is over reliant on the mining sector filling beds and there is no sustainable long-term demand from the leisure market to pick up the slack in a situation where the mining boom wanes. The combined result is Perth becomes a relatively expensive city to visit for business or leisure.
Located on the corner of Pier and Murray Street, it is a short walk to everything you need for work and leisure. 5 mins up from the hotel and I'm in the main shopping and alfresco strip of Hay street and the local Blue Cat bus that took me to Northbridge for the best ethnic food in the city. 10 mins and I'm at the Perth bus station where most coach tours pick up and depart. The local Red Cat bus is directly opposite the hotel and became my quick and convenient ride into the business district.
The Pensione Hotel was extensively refurbished in December 2011 from the dated style of former Aarons Hotel to the modern contemporary signature consistent with the Pensione brand in all 98 rooms. There was a conference room, coin-operated laundry room, internet kiosk and a 24 hour reception. Despite having only 2 staff manning the reception during busy times, service was friendly, chatty and efforts made to be prompt. Relative to what's available in the Perth hotel market, in terms of price and room quality, the cost of a room at Pensione Hotel Perth was reasonable and affordable when totalled for the week. It delivered on its promise of providing comfortable and value for money accommodations right in the centre of Perth city for the frequent corporate visitor or a city weekend for the leisure traveller.
The Pensione Hotel replaced the dated furniture and fittings with a cosy room featuring simple and clean styling – white walls, soft carpet, upmarket drapes, comfortable pillow-top mattresses and modern bathroom. The hotel offers a range of room types from the standard to premium, with the main difference being the room size. I found the standard room for single or couples to be minimally enough for small luggage and a queen bed. I opted for an upgrade to deluxe room with more wardrobe space, a king-size bed and a work desk. All rooms come with large windows offering natural light, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities, wall mounted LCD TV with cable channels, reverse-cycle air-conditioning, Iron and ironing board, hair dryer, mini fridge and WiFi internet for a fee.
Meals and drinks available from the independently owned on-premise My Place Bar and Restaurant. Brekkie selection was limited and mediocre quality for the AUD20 all-you-can-eat price tag. Fortunately lunch priced at AUD15 for a main and drink deliver a better quality meal. However, this place is popular for chilling out in the evenings over affordable beer, cheap premixed cocktails and karaoke in the city. The owner/manager was a grumpy sort of bloke but the staff are generally friendly, chatty and helpful. When I felt like having a smorgasbord of seafood, roasts, soups, salads and desserts there was Miss Maud Swedish Restaurant across the road.