Inside Queensland’s biggest and most exclusive penthouse
I must have watched Pretty Woman 100 times. I can recite every line from the film upon request and the soundtrack was one of the first CDs I ever bought, kickstarting a karaoke obsession with Roxette that lingered well into my 30s.
And even though one of Julia Roberts' dresses during that famous shopping scene would have cost more than my entire 2004 trip backpacking around America, I still dragged my best mate along Rodeo Drive, just so I could say I walked in her footsteps.
And now I can say I've lived the life of Pretty Woman - whisked off the street in a fancy car by a handsome man, taken to the most amazing Penthouse with a rooftop infinity pool and a bathroom that was, as Julia Roberts says, "bigger than the Blue Banana"!
My husband came along, too.
Of course there was nothing "untoward"/ risqué about my night in the Parklands Suite at the Emporium Hotel, and the man who picked me up wasn't a rich silver fox looking for directions who ended up getting a whole lot more. He was my driver for the next 24 hours and the Maserati he picked us up in all part of the service at the Emporium's newly-refurbished penthouse, which gives you a glimpse into how the other half, or movie stars for that matter, live.
When we stepped inside the Parklands Suite at The Emporium Hotel in South Bank, it is safe to say our jaws hit the floor … and stayed there.
As I stood at the entrance trying to take it all in, I could feel myself doing calculations in my head - this must be at least three times as big as our house, I thought to myself.
Almost four times in fact. At 786sqm, it's easily Queensland's largest penthouse - not to mention a seven-year-old's hide and seek paradise!
The first thing to catch my eye was the baby grand piano in the corner of the huge living room - perfect for my husband (Richard Gere) to serenade me with later.
But my attention quickly turned to the impressive 260-degree views of Brisbane City. The river actually looks majestic from 21-storeys up.
Perched right above the South Bank Parklands, the tapestry of colours with the turquoise water of the pools and purple bougainvillea that was in full bloom, I imagined that for an interstate or overseas traveller how beautiful Brisbane could look from up in the sky. Our hosts took us on a necessary "tour" of the penthouse and it soon became apparent it was even bigger than we first thought.
You would need to spend a week here to truly appreciate all of the luxe inclusions - like the chef's kitchen, outdoor barbecue area and, of course, the master suite.
My daughter jumped straight on the huge king-size bed, mesmerised by the TV that appeared out of nowhere from the ceiling. My husband eyed off the huge tub by the floor-to- ceiling window that overlooked the pool and the city outside. While I, despite having just an overnight bag, was drawn to the spectacular walk-in robe.
Think the closet Big builds for Carrie in the first Sex and the City movie. Yep, it's that good.
And while there wasn't a pair of Manolo Blahniks waiting for me, there was a his-and-hers set of comfy pyjamas for us to cosy up in later. We even had our very own "beck and call girl". And I say that with the greatest of respect.
Otherwise known as an "Emporium Ambassador", Sarah was there to cater for our every need.
At the start of our stay we were given a private phone number to call in case we ever needed anything.
Afternoon cheese platter by the pool. Check.
Feather-down pillow from the exclusive pillow menu. Yes please.
Sarah was also the one to introduce us to what was the most impressive mini-bar I've ever seen.
Emporium owners Anthony and Francine John are quite the connoisseurs when it comes to wine, we're told, and the fridges are stacked accordingly with varieties from all over the world. You won't find any of those drops in your local bottle shop.
Pink gin, Japanese Yamazaki whisky and a bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac is also there for the taking.
"It's all complimentary guys, so … " Sarah says, as we look at each in disbelief at our good fortune.
It's hard to go past the 2008 Dom Perignon though, which was already chilling in an ice bucket when we arrived - and is given as a gift to everyone who stays the night. Later that night we're treated to a three-course menu prepared by Emporium's executive chef Chris Norman. He personally delivered every course, which included Mooloolaba prawns and Darling Downs beef, telling us that with the exception of the chocolate in our dessert the restaurant prides itself on celebrating Queensland produce.
As we kicked back, enjoying the mini-bar and a night swim, we wished we had a group of friends to enjoy it with. And to be honest, the only time we'd ever get the chance to experience the Parklands suite again would be with three other couples, minus the kids, to share the cost.
One night will set you back between $10,000 and $25,000.
My seven-year-old had to do a persuasive speech upon her return to school on why her holiday was the "best ever".
"It had an infinity pool, a baby grand piano, a humongous pile of sweets and so much more. I loved everything ..." she said.
I couldn't have said it better myself.
The writer was a guest of the Emporium Hotel
BOOK IT NOW
Emporium Hotel South Bank: 267 Grey Street South Brisbane
Cost: $10,000 to $25,000 per night depending on individual requirements and travel seasonality
Eat: There are two restaurants - The Terrace with open-air bar as well as Signature restaurant.
Getting to and from: Complimentary return airport limo transfers. Plus access to the hotel's Maserati town car.
Originally published as Inside Queensland's biggest and most exclusive penthouse