By Jenny Hewett
Oct 31, 2022
“WHATEVER THEY DID to your skin, it’s really glowing,” my friend says as we sit down to dinner in Northbridge, a gentrified nightlife and dining district on the edge of Perth’s CBD. She’s not exaggerating. I’ve come straight from a spa facial at the pearlescent Ritz-Carlton Perth at Elizabeth Quay, which opened towards the end of 2019. My skin has never felt or looked so good. I’ve had a lot of facials during my career, but never as effective as this. After checkout, I chase the spa down for a full breakdown of the Biologique Recherche products used in the hope that I can be this juicy forever. It could be the world’s best facial. It could also be that the hotel’s radiance has rubbed off on me.
Standing tall over the edge of the Swan River with 205 rooms and suites, The Ritz-Carlton Perth has a glossy exterior, with reflective floor-to-ceiling yellow glass at the bottom and pink glass at the top, evoking the pink argyle diamonds found in northern Western Australia. Sunshine pours inside my spacious 104-square-meter Elizabeth Quay Suite. When I enter, the blinds rise automatically to reveal the golden tones of the American Oak wood flooring, an enormous lounge area and soft interiors accented with design features that are specific to Western Australia’s (we Aussies call it WA) natural landscapes, including blush hues, earthy tones and metallic pops.
Warm and inviting, this stay has none of the sterile qualities you’d expect in a standard business hotel, and that’s why to pigeon-hole it as one would be a disservice. It makes the ideal base for exploring Perth’s laneways and bars, and a quick ride on a ferry from the terminal below will have you in the hip beachside ‘hood of Freo (Fremantle) in roughly an hour. The lobby, which features a custom chandelier with 275 cascading lights mimicking water in the ancient rock gorges in Karijini National Park, feels more like an art gallery than a place you might check into or come for a conference.
On display is a hand-carved concierge desk made from a 100-year-old jarrah tree and a six-meter-long wall sculpture containing vintage wine bottles and colonial artefacts dug up in the excavation of the site. From the local art and sculptures to angular lines and the 10,000 pieces of Kimberley sandstone arranged in blush-hued gradients inside and out, every aspect is tied to the story of the land.
And no detail articulates that more beautifully than flagship restaurant Hearth (an old English word that means heart of home or fireplace). Inspired by traditional cooking methods, the fine-diner sources everything from local producers, generally within a 200- to 300-kilometer radius, and in 2021 the restaurant earned itself three hats in the Good Food Guide, Australia’s top culinary award. Everything goes through smoke, fire or the grill and the menu is hyper seasonal. It’s a big call, but staff assure me it has the largest wine list in WA. Many of the drops in the pairing on the day I visit are biodynamic.
I have to stop myself from lifting the plate to my face when the charred Fremantle octopus arrives. Grilled in brown butter with cauliflower couscous and a mayo-like squid ink emulsion, it’s paired with a chilled, peppery Osmington shiraz. Launch chef Jed Gerrard (formerly of Como The Treasury’s Wildflower) has since moved onto Margaret River, but the new menu by executive chef Alberto Cuzzit and sous chef Brian Cole is a sign of good things to come. Even the sweet notes are high, the tasting finishes off with camembert ice cream with grilled strawberries and toasted sandalwood nuts.
Rooftop bar and lounge Songbird (based on the 52 songbirds native to WA) isn’t open on the weekday I visit, but I can immediately see its appeal for sunset. On the same level is an outdoor pool, heated to 29 degrees with the same city views. On a good day, I’m told by staff, you can see dolphins playing in the river below. That would be enough to make anyone smile, but essentially just existing in this calming space of a city bolthole is good for the soul. I have some work to do while I’m here, and so order breakfast (a ‘green eggs’ variation on the classic benedict) and lunch (a cheeseburger) to my suite. The bedroom and oversized ensuite is separate from the lounge and dining area, so I don’t feel like I’m cooped up all day.
At the Ritz-Carlton spa that afternoon, my therapist Larashana begins using all manner of high-tech gadgets to analyze my skin using French skincare brand Biologique Recherche’s Skin Instant Lab diagnosis. She forewarns me that the products are cold-formulated and so I might feel chilly. But as I’m tucked under a blanket on a heated bed, there’s no danger of that. She applies the products while massaging my skin and neck with her fingertips, which too have become ice-cold, creating the most divine soothing sensation from the chest up. I feel instantly refreshed and reenergized.
My skin speaks for itself. And so does this city sanctuary.
ritz-carlton.com; doubles from A$812
All photos courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Perth.