Jan 14, 2019
On the shore of Western Australia, once-sleepy Perth is coming of age as a new culinary and creative destination. By Mary Holland.
It’s no wonder Perth is a late bloomer. The city is among the world’s most remote—the nearest urban center is Adelaide, 2,000 kilometers away. Perth has always hummed along, its glimmering coastline and enviable climate attracting little notice from outsiders, who’d pass through en route to the vineyards of Margaret River. But a recent boom has spurred a golden age: new residents are pouring in, infrastructure improvements are underway, and a spate of openings have elevated Perth from wine-country way station to stand-alone hot spot.
The 184-room QT Perth (qthotelsandresorts.com; doubles from A$322) opened last year in the city center. The brand’s first outpost in Western Australia, it’s a moody, glamorous addition to this sunny seaside city. But the hotel boom began back in 2015, when COMO The Treasury (comohotels.com; doubles from A$512) made its debut in a block of 19th-century buildings nearby. Its 48 rooms are at once restrained and refined, all soaring ceilings, muted tones, and Scandi-style design. The InterContinental Perth City Centre (perth.intercontinental.com; doubles from A$245) opened in 2017 in the upscale King Street Precinct, while in the cultural hub of Northbridge, Alex Hotel (alexhotel.com.au; doubles from A$184) offers Danish furnishings and splashes of color. Between the two is Yagan Square (yagansquare.com.au), a new cultural center that links Northbridge to the waterfront. With its art-filled park, transit hub and food hall, the center is the most high-profile marker of Perth’s evolution.
Two of the city’s brightest culinary stars are situated in the COMO complex. Swanky Wildflower (wildflowerperth.com.au; mains from A$36) serves dishes inspired by the culinary traditions of the indigenous Noongar people, with ingredients like kangaroo and marron, Western Australia’s answer to lobster, while Long Chim (longchimperth.com; mains from A$14) delivers Thai food by David Thompson. You can also find zingy gin cocktails in the city at the Flour Factory (theflourfactory.com), pastries and comfort food at Mary Street Bakery (marystreetbakery.com.au), and hyperlocal bites and regional wines at New Normal Bar & Kitchen (anewnormal.com.au; small plates from A$10). It’s an impressive lineup for a city so far-flung, and good thing, too—after a long journey, you’re bound to work up an appetite.
NEXT STOPS: Perth is one of the closest ports in Australia from Asia. While you’re out west, visit these other remote destinations.
Margaret River: This wine region is three hours by car, five by public bus.
Rottnest Island: Home to beloved marsupial the quokka, this protected nature reserve is 90 minutes by ferry.
The Kimberley: To explore this wild expanse, catch a 2½-hour flight to Broome, then rent a four-wheel-drive to road-trip the region.
Christmas Island: The remote tropical isle is four hours by plane; Virgin flies there twice weekly.