Perth skyline

Exploring Inner-city Perth, the New Capital of Cool

09 Aug 2017

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There’s a renaissance afoot in the Western Australian capital Perth.

This might well be the most isolated capital city on the planet, but you certainly wouldn’t know it as you wander the bustling malls and street art-emblazoned laneways of the inner city. Cool cafes, slick eateries and trendy gastro-pubs abound.

The city is actually in the process of getting a complete makeover. In 2029 Perth will celebrate its bicentenary and by that date the vision is for new life to have been breathed into what was once known locally as ‘Dullsville’. Much like Melbourne did so successfully, the aim is to bring people back to the Perth inner city – and it seems to be working a treat.

Boutique stays

If you are going to fully immerse yourself in this burgeoning urban mecca, you’ll need somewhere fabulous to stay. Perth’s inner city has no shortage of hotels but there are some exciting new options to check out. The city is soon to welcome its brand new mega-Westin on Hay Street, but for some boutique luxury now – head for Peppers Kings Square Hotel on Wellington. There’s a touch of Manhattan about this stylish travellers’ abode. The contemporary rooms offer large picture windows with awesome city views. Loved the complimentary brownies on arrival and the mini-bar stocked with locally specialties.

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Peppers Kings Square Hotel Perth
Image: Peppers Kings Square Hotel, Perth

Grungy grills and café hotspots

Time to head out and explore, and in some ways Perth city feels a bit like a series of small interconnected villages and precincts, with café culture the common thread. In grungy Grand Lane off the Murray Street Mall pop into teeny Toastface Grillah for great coffee and a deliciously cheesy toasted sandwich.


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Toastface Grillah Perth, Australia
Toastface Grillah. Image: Adam Ford

From there head west towards ritzy shopping strip King Street and La Veen Coffee,  which gets great reviews. Wolf Lane is home to the shabby chic Secret Garden Café. Further west, Shafto Lane offers a ton of top spots to eat, but Hopper Espresso will be the highlight for coffee connoisseurs (weekdays only). Emerge near His Maj and head east to the Hay Street Mall’s retro Moana Chambers – home to must-try Moana Coffee on the second floor.

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Wildflower Restaurant Perth Australia
Image: Wildflower Restaurant

Top-to-bottom fine dining

COMO the Treasury, Perth’s six-star nod to heritage hotel luxury, is the city’s premier dining destination.

Down in the shadows of the basement you’ll find Thai cuisine supremo David Thompson’s Long Chim. Dishes on the Bangkok street food-inspired menu include the crunchy prawn salad (just shovel it in, heads and all) and the velvety mashed prawn curry. Wow.

From the dark depths of the basement to culinary cloud nine on the rooftop, Wildflower has to be one of the finest dining experiences in Australia. Enjoy native Western Australian cuisine prepared from ingredients farmed and foraged locally according to the six Indigenous-recognised seasons. The emu smoked over jarrah embers with black truffle and charcoal crisps is out of this world.

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Elizabeth Quay, Perth, Australia
Elizabeth Quay. Image: Adam Ford

Scenic strolling

Walk off your choice of indulgence with a stroll down to stunning Elizabeth Quay.

This superb waterfront redevelopment opened in 2016, and while it’s the jumping off spot for cruises to Fremantle and Rottnest Island, Elizabeth Quay is also a recreational destination in its own right. There are landscaped native gardens, a kids’ play area, cafes and eateries. The swirling metallic footbridge is the precinct’s sculptural centrepiece.

On your way back up into town, stop in at the Museum of Perth for more insights into the city’s continuing evolution.

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Bar Sequel, Perth, Australia
Bar Sequel. Image: Adam Ford

Cutting-edge nightlife

The WA State Government’s liquor licensing reforms of 2007 have seen the rise of Perth’s cutting-edge small bar scene: maximum capacity 120; food on offer; music low in the background. Today there are small bars to be found across the inner city.

Bar Sequel on Hay Street was once a Chinese restaurant and illicit gambling den (check out the Chinese ceiling tiles in the main bar), while over on Howard Street you can order shared plates at Andaluz Bar & Tapas. End your evening at Wolf Lane’s Cheeky Sparrow. The warehouse vibe is a lot of late night fun.

Adam Ford

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a Melbourne-based travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. Adam has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. He worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He also appears regularly as a travel commentator on Sky News Business Class.