Perth is no longer recognisable as the once-sleepy western capital. The modern metropolis is home to a maze of quirky small bars, restaurants by internationally renowned chefs and huge public works projects that are reshaping how people use the city space.
This is a city of 1.8 million residents, small but perfectly formed, with a renewed confidence and a buzz on the streets. People might be heading for a night out in the newly hip Northbridge district, dining at Guillaume Brahimi’s Bistro Guillaume in Crown Perth or raising a glass of Little Creature craft beer on the docks of Fremantle. This city transformation has grabbed worldwide headlines with The New York Times declaring last year that Perth was “a city embodying all things right about cities” praising not only the nightlife and food scene but the public transport and green space like Kings Park. NYT travel writer Baz Dreisinger went so far as to declare it more of a “hipster heaven” than the trendy suburb of Williamsburg in New York.
And there is plenty to back up this big call. The new COMO The Treasury hotel development by luxury hotel group COMO Hotels & Resorts is a measure of Perth’s new cool. COMO hand picks its luxe locations and the WA capital is the first COMO development in Australia. It is a $110-million investment that – along with the surrounding State Buildings precinct – spans four historic government buildings and they have been renovated and reimagined as a hub of shopping, dining and relaxation.
Now guests can dine at Long Chim, chef David Thompson’s street food restaurant and cellar bar in the Old Treasury building, sip wine at Petition wine bar or visit the signature COMO Shambhala day spa for a treatment.
Over at Elizabeth Quay is the next big development to keep an eye on. This $440-million dollar makeover plans to reconnect the city with the Swan River and it opened its first stage in January featuring a night noodle market, the Embargo container bar and a huge water park and kids’ play area. Elizabeth Quay is the new Perth embodied: modern, well-planned and but retaining a sense of community. From the moment it opened the area has been home to pop-ups and events to help engage people with the new space that has sweeping views across to Kings Park.
Back in the CBD, Perth’s small bar revolution has changed how the city parties. Yes, Perth is still home to the Sunday session at beachside locales like Beach Club and the Ocean Beach hotel in Cottesloe, but now you can also get a late-night tipple all over town. You can rock out at the faux dive bar Joe’s Juice Joint, have a chilli-tinged margarita on the rooftop deck of the Mechanic’s Institute or soak up the sudsy atmosphere in Chinese laundry-themed late-nighter Lucky Chan’s.
Enjoy the dark, laneway vibe of Helvetica on of the first bars to kick off this social space revolution or make it all about the Indian street food at Sauma where they twice-cooked lamb ribs will make you rethink everything you know about sub-continental cuisine. Fancy some rum? There are over 300 types on offer at Sneaky Tony’s speakeasy, you just have to find it!
Then there are events galore, like the Perth International Arts Festival that brings together artists from across the globe, the Fringe World festival that this year tied in with the launch of Elizabeth Quay and annual gatherings like the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival.
The Fringe World Festival is the perfect excuse for a summer getaway to Perth as it runs for 31 days and embodies the best of Perth’s famous summer vibes. Taking place in January/February, Fringe World is a summer celebration of comedy, visual arts, music and cabaret and events take place all over the city including the hub of the Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge.
Justin Blackford runs FoodLoose walking tours which explore Northbridge and beyond and says his business has only been possible due to the explosion of Perth nightlife and events like Fringe World. Based in Fremantle he says even the dockside city has changed a lot of late citing The Mantle in Freo as a good example of the new Perth.
“It is a collaborative space in an old repurposed warehouse and they have four venders within that space,” says Blackford. “There is a tapas place, a small bar, a pizza place and a burger place – and the Short Order Burger Co is one of the best burgers I have ever had in my life.”
Down on the docks Little Creatures still brews up a storm at its signature brewhouse where you can sample a tasting flight of beers with matching food and it is no longer the only show in town with Monk Brew Café and Gage Roads Brewing Co joining the party.
The port city also has its own festivals including the Street Arts Festival which is Australia’s biggest celebration of street art and performance featuring a huge roster of artists from around the world. The Street Arts Festival springs to life every Easter long weekend in Freo.
You should join in, too, visit the newest party capital in Australian full of fine food, great public spaces and events that celebrate the fact that Perth has well and truly come of age.
With so much going on in WA, planning a trip can seem a little overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve made things easier by creating a personalised trip planner that uses your unique personality to determine the ideal time for you to visit.
Find the best time to visit at yourwawindow.com