Perth, Australia

Photo: Alex Hotel

Welcome to the end of the world. Seriously. Perth is one of the most isolated major cities on Earth. The capital of Western Australia is more than 1,300 miles from Adelaide, the nearest comparably sized city. It’s closer to both Dili, East Timor and Jakarta, Indonesia than it is to Sydney. While it takes you more than 24 hours, regardless of whether you head east or west, to travel here.

Perth, surprisingly, doesn’t feel like the end of the world, though. It looks like a big city with skyscrapers and government buildings. It feels Australian with green parks along the Swan River and sandy beaches lining its western suburbs. It even feels multicultural and stylish.

Northbridge is one of the hippest spots in the city right now. The small neighborhood, which surrounds Russell Square, sits immediately north of the CBD (Central Business District). Like much of Perth, this used to be soggy swampland. The swamp was drained in the 1860s and developed during the gold boom in the 1890s. After World War I, it diversified with the arrival of new European immigrants. The gritty neighborhood is now transforming once again. It’s become a hotbed for cool bars, sleek restaurants, and fashionable hotels.

Photo: Alex Hotel

Perth’s coolest hotel is the Alex Hotel. It was created by the guys behind Little Creatures, a microbrewery that brought American-style IPAs to Fremantle, Perth’s port area. It’s near the central train station and the Perth Cultural Centre (galleries, museums, theaters). The modern, angular building is unique and definitely sticks out. Plus the sixth floor has a rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the city.

The Alex Hotel looks like a place in which you’d want to stay. But does the contemporary vibe continue inside? Absolutely. The boutique hotel doesn’t really have a check-in desk. A young staff member will get you situated—and then make your first flat white—around the communal table in the lobby’s espresso bar. The Mezzanine Lounge is perched above the lobby. The workspace is filled with velvet loveseats, colorful art, and a record player. It’s where a light breakfast is served in the morning and an honor bar is stocked with craft beer and local wine. Then there’s Shadow Wine Bar. A narrow lane leads to the posh restaurant, which serves more Great Southern and Margaret River wines, a tasty bar menu (freshly shucked oysters, halloumi with black sesame and honey), and house-made pasta (crab spaghetti).

Last, but certainly not least, is your room. Each of the hotel’s 74 rooms is a simple, colorful sanctuary. Medium rooms have king-size beds, floor-to-ceiling windows, and private balconies. Large rooms add views of the city. They both include sleek, gray bathrooms, featuring glass rain showers and electric blinds. While “Dreams in Progress” signs hang from the doors. It’s time to leave you alone so you can start dreaming about the rest of this faraway adventure.

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