We love a bit of history, and it’s rare to find a new hotel with oodles of it. But COMO The Treasury Perth is one such hotel. Occupying the former State Treasury buildings in the heart of Perth city in Western Australia, this hotel forms part of a meticulous, and frankly superb redevelopment of a Victorian-era property built in the 1870s, finally abandoned as government offices in 1996.
We don’t usually start our hotel reviews with a history lesson. Don’t worry – this won’t become the norm!
Here we make a slight exception though. The main photo for this article will clearly show you just how far this building has come since it’s nearly 20-year abandonment, from 1996 when it was still being used as government offices, many years after it’s original purpose – built in 1874 as the State Treasury.
There was even an underground tunnel linking this building with the Perth Mint, about 1km away, and though it’s obviously no longer accessible, the tunnel still exists to this day.
The pictures make it clear just how much was spent on this – AU$580 million was the total redevelopment cost, which transformed the two-decades vacant State Buildings to their current glory. It’s now a mixed-use development including bars, restaurants, shops, and of course COMO The Treasury hotel, with just 48 unique rooms and suites.
We spent two nights here in early 2017, and now that the history lesson is over with – onto the review.
I know what you’re thinking – how can this possibly be different from the routine at any hotel, anywhere in the world? Enter reception, approach the front desk, hand over your credit card, get told what time breakfast finishes (and get reminded that it’s not included in your rate), receive your key then head up to your room.
But this is a different experience. COMO The Treasury doesn’t have a ‘reception’ as such, rather we were welcomed into the main hallway, directed to our right, and shown through to the ‘lounge’.
Here we were invited to take a seat on one of the chairs or comfy sofas, and offered a drink. It had been a long day already after all, so why not put our feet up with a glass of fizz while the check-in formalities were arranged for us? How civilised.
And by the way, as with all stays here, breakfast at Post Restaurant is included for all guests, every morning.
The friendly staff then personally showed us to ‘Room 6’, a Heritage Balcony room overlooking Cathedral Square. We couldn’t fail to be impressed as we were shown into the room.
60 square metres of hotel room is nearly unheard of, unless you’re in a suite. It’s the size of many new 1-bed condos in Singapore. Here at the COMO, it’s basically standard.
We thought the nice thing about the rooms at the COMO is that they all feature a freestanding bathtub.
The dressing room and bathroom was huge, and had a large original sash window providing excellent natural light. For privacy, an automatic sheer and blackout curtains were incorporated in both the bedroom and the bathroom.
Another great feature in the bathroom was under floor heating, controlled from a wall switch when desired, which makes a big different on those winter mornings.
Some rooms at the COMO also feature a fireplace, which they will come and light for you on request. This was a nice touch in the evening.
Overall the room quality, fittings, bed and other furniture were of a really high standard and the finish was impeccable, especially in the bathroom.
Facilities (pool and gym)
Did someone say indoor pool? Well, this is no ordinary one. A 20m long heated lap pool, with ample sun loungers to the side, changing rooms, showers and self-serve filtered water on tap. There is also a phone to call for other drinks and snacks you may desire to be served poolside.
Above the pool, and spanning the same length, is the fully equipped gym.
The COMO Shambhala Urban Escape is the hotel’s Spa, open every day and offering a wide range of treatments.
We didn’t get the opportunity to have a massage in the spa during our stay, but it comes well reviewed.
Bars and restaurants
As you would expect from a high-end city hotel, there’s no shortage of drinking and dining options, with two bars and two restaurants in the hotel itself, plus a number of other options within the adjoining State Buildings, which are all accessible directly from the hotel.
The Treasury Lounge and Bar is on the St Georges Terrace side of the main hotel entrance, opposite the lounge where the check in formalities are completed. Three rooms in total with high ceilings, a range of seating options and an open fireplace. The bar has an extensive drinks list and an afternoon tea menu, which is served from 2 to 5pm.
We visited in the early evening and enjoyed a glass of Australian Blanc de Blancs from Margaret River, which was excellent, though as expected – not cheap at AU$16.
Post is the main hotel restaurant serving an excellent breakfast, complimentary for all hotel guests, plus a lunch and dinner menu. It’s open to the public too, so do make a reservation for dinner.
The restaurant occupies the old postal hall of the State Buildings, and is excellently restored and decorated. We came for breakfast both mornings during our stay and the food was excellent, with a buffet and à la carte menu all included for hotel residents.
Wildflower is perched on the roof of the hotel in a beautiful glass structure with views towards the Bell Tower and over the Swan River.
There is a bar with a large outdoor terrace, perfect for pre-dinner drinks and cocktails.
In Wildflower, reservations are essential as it is also open to the public and has clearly proven very popular. We went on a weeknight and it was full, so it’s a good thing we had booked.
Other bar and dining options
Elsewhere in the State Buildings complex, directly accessible from the hotel, you will find the following additional bar and dining options:
- Halford, a 1950s themed cocktail bar
- Long Chim, a Thai restaurant
- Petition Beer Corner
- Petition Wine Bar & Merchant
- Petition Kitchen
The day job gets the best of all of us, and at the end of our trip I had to head back to Singapore for work commitments, leaving Eddie the need to avoid the awkward ‘table for one’ experience back in Perth. However it was a great excuse for him to review the COMO room service menu.
Food is freshly prepared in Post restaurant then directly delivered to your room. The menu is extensive and while prices are definitely on the high side, the food quality was excellent.
COMO The Treasury has a great location, walking distance from almost all the main attractions in Perth CBD, and very close to train links taking you further afield, such as to Cottesloe Beach and Fremantle.
But how close to the centre of Perth is the hotel? Well it’s probably a point of debate, except for Cartographers that is.
‘Point Zero‘, in the middle of Perth, is the marker from which all distances to the city are measured. Established in 1925, it effectively represents the ‘centre point’ of Perth.
Today there’s a plaque there to recognise its position, and it’s right outside the front door of COMO The Treasury. Can’t get more central than that!
We jest a little, Perth has changed over the years and there are thriving areas all over the city you may wish to visit.
Adjacent to the hotel are the pedestrianised Hay Street and Murray Street malls, the main shopping precincts of the city. Perth City station is a short walk, linking to the main rail network with connections around the region, including to Fremantle and the beaches.
The vibrant and bustling Northbridge is a 10-minute walk away, and directly outside on St Georges Terrace you can link to the free CAT bus network, with complimentary hop-on, hop-off service around the city and to landmarks such as Kings Park.
We tried hard to fault this hotel, we really did. It just wasn’t possible. Everything from the warm welcome and the friendly staff, the backdrop of the meticulous and stunning renovation of a beautiful building, the finish and attention to detail in every corner of the property, and an amazing indoor pool, down to the spacious bedrooms and incredible bathrooms, simply ‘wowed’ us.
Admittedly, it’s not cheap. You’ll probably take a big gulp at the quote for a couple of nights here. For many, it’s a special occasions only hotel, and that’s purely down to the cost. However, special occasion or not, we believe you honestly won’t regret the decision.
In October 2016, respected travel publisher Condé Nast ranked COMO The Treasury the second best hotel in the world. Though it slipped to 12th place in 2017, this is still a remarkable achievement, and in both years it secured ranking as the only Australian hotel to feature in the top 50.
Almost every other hotel on the list is ludicrously expensive, by contrast COMO The Treasury, while clearly expensive for Perth, is pretty reasonable versus the global top 50 price standard.
It’s no surprise that this hotel is receiving lots of accolades, but awards or not, for us COMO The Treasury sets an incredible standard, and we would definitely return.
Example rates for a weekend stay in January 2018:
- City Rooms from AU$645 per night
- Heritage Rooms from AU$695 per night
- Treasury Rooms from AU$745 per night
- Heritage Balcony Rooms from AU$845 per night
- Treasury Balcony Rooms from AU$945 per night
- Studio Suites from AU$1,045 per night
- Treasury Suites from AU$1,245 per night
Stayed March 2017