Last weekend we needed to vacate our home for a few days and decided to stay close by.

I love an opening special and was able to snag one at the new The Johnson Hotel, part of the Art Series Hotel group that have some great establishments in Adelaide, Melbourne and Bendigo. I booked with my PGR membership which is a company that manages the Art Series, QT Hotels. Rydges and a few others. This allows you to accumulate points for stays as well as accessing some good specials from time to time and its come in handy a fair bit this year for us.


The Johnson was once the Qld Transport Department building in Spring Hill and many of us have memories of getting our licenses there. It’s a good use of a typical 1970’s Government building which no doubt presented some challenges to the architects not least of which is the world’s worst car park with tiny little cars spaces that is virtually impossible to use with a large car. How did they get the Kingswood’s in there back in the day !?

This ‘Art’ Hotel is inspired by the Australian Abstractionist artist Michael Johnson and his vibrant work is displayed throughout the hotel, including an impressive cube installation at the entry. This flows through the myriad of bright colour used for most of the soft furnishings and some of the fittings and the first impression is pared back modern luxury with a bit of an edge, much like the other Art Series hotels.

We had a pleasant stay and the rooms are comfortable but I have to say the list of teething problems are too long to mention. From the moment I checked in and discovered the confirmed ‘2 bed/2bath with balcony room’ doesn’t actually exist we were off to a bad start and things didn’t improve much. The layout of our 2 bedroom room was strange with a view of a (very dirty) wall, no natural light or ventilation in the master bedroom, a washing machine with no drying facilities, missing pool towels/dishcloth/minibar list, the list goes on. And the attention to detail is just not there – one light switch turns on all 11 downlights in the living/hall/kitchen area, the bed head in the queen room doesn’t line up with the bed….

The service from Reception was good and they did make an initial attempt at redemption offering us a free rollaway bed ( normally $70pn !) and parking ($25pd) – to be honest with so many things going wrong I felt quite sorry for them.

The hotel only operates from Levels 3-5 ( 5 being street level at the front) so don’t expect views from anywhere really although the pool area is very nice with a Michael Klim designed pool ( seriously its 50x5m, with blue tiles – must have taken him aaagggges !) and some really lovely outdoor furniture but again no pool towels and you have to ring the restaurant for service which is slow and the menu limited.

Which brings me to the restaurant. Tumbling Stone ( named after one of Johnson’s works) is located on the front corner on Boundary Street. The fit out is great – big and bold with lots of detail like chain mail curtains and vertical gardens. But the service is pretty shambolic and the food was ordinary. Such a shame, as there is little on offer in the area and I would imagine the locals and new residents are desperate for somewhere to dine. The Creole Kitchen across the road is a much better option.

I know teething problems are common with new hotels and restaurants  but in this age of quality control, quantum project management and cutting edge technology does it have to be ? How hard is it to make sure a room is offered as advertised and fully equipped with things the customer needs and wants?

I’m sure over time The Johnson will be a good alternative to the Brisbane Hotel scene but for now I would stay away until they have ironed out the long list of issues.