As a long-time West Ender, I remember way back when The Fox Hotel was still The Terminus, so-called because decades earlier it had marked the end of a tram route. And part of me really wishes that the recent grand refurbishment of The Fox had reinstated its original name.
But, other than that, I have to give The Fox five stars for its makeover -- which has delivered a venue that honours the original building while creating a funky and welcoming new venue.
The Fox is a multi-level palace of delight, with lovely surprises on every floor, Starting at ground level, the Long Bar is a Gatsby-style drinking spot that boasts, yes, you guessed it, a very long bar. With quality bar food, cocktails, and the usual standard drinks, it's a glamorous spot to while away an afternoon or evening.
At the end of the Long Bar, you can walk through to the Meatball Co. restaurant, which offers a range of gourmet balls, salads and other tempting dishes. (See my separate review of the Meatball Co. for Weekend Notes.)
But, for me, the treasure of the ground floor is The Courtyard Bar, an atrium space with greenery and cushioned couches. Just around the corner from the Long Bar, it's a lovely use of a gracious space, perfect for a warm Queensland night.
Straight ahead lies the Acadia Room, a decadent art-deco style bar that can hold a couple of hundred people for private functions. Nearby is the smaller Collector's Room. With its scarab-beetle wallpaper and framed butterflies, it would make an amusing setting for a meeting or dinner.
Turn a corner, and you encounter the Boudoir Room, a richly decorated gentlemen's-style retiring room, with lascivious overtones. Again, it can be booked for private functions, complete with DJ, food and drinks.
Trip further down the corridor and the mood changes again in the Verandah Room. An explosion of subtropical colours, the Verandah Room manages to channel a quintessentially Queensland vibe while giving more than a nod to icons like Singapore's famous Raffles Hotel. Lounging in the cane chairs here is one of life's true pleasures.
Interior design throughout The Fox is is the work of local architects Marc&Co in collaboration with West Ender Caro Toledo. Together they've created an inviting and interesting collection of spaces that continue on the building's higher levels.
Another trek up the stairs and you reach Fish Lane, an art space and studio that will host exhibitions and events. Climb one final level, and you emerge onto the hotel rooftop, home to Dandy's bar. A slightly crazy mix of Studio 54 ceiling (hanging plastic icicles, anybody?) and 1970s tennis club (think green astroturf presided over by bar staff in Jimmy Connors whites), it's a fun spot to drink cocktails and admire views of the river and South Bank.
The revamped Fox is a long way from the old Terminus Hotel, or even from the union watering hole that it was in more recent decades. If you haven't visited, it would be easy to toss it into the 'gentrification' basket, and dismiss it as just another monied takeover of an inner-city pub.
I think that the architects and designer have respected the building's origins and its bones, creating a series of creative and welcoming spaces that are a million miles from the soulless chrome-and-wood fitouts of many recent hotel refurbs.
The Fox still has heart, and I felt both curious and comfortable as I wandered up its stairs and down its corridors. It's a gorgeous place to explore, and I'd encourage you to do so yourself.