Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On the QT



Staying in a brand new hotels can be interesting. Sandy and I once stayed at a newly-opened hotel in London where the lifts were not working (cue a 4-story hike up the stairs with our suitcases) and the aircon was on the fritz, set permanently to about 35 degrees. I can still remember the night we spent lying naked on top of the sheets with the window open, letting in the 2-degree outside air while inside we gently fan-baked. (We checked out the next day and headed for the safe haven of the Westbury.)

The QT hotel is Sydney's newest, and when I stayed it had only been open a matter of weeks. Indeed, some parts are still under construction. On accidentally pressing the button for the wrong floor one day, the elevator doors opened on what I can only describe as a building site.

Still, that doesn't stop it from being pretty cool. It's sandwiched between/across two famous historic buildings in central Sydney - the State Theatre and the Gowings building - and the design is madly, colourfully Now. It looks and feels like you've wandered into a spread from World of Interiors showcasing the hip Barcelona pad of some impossibly cool couple - maybe a fashion stylist and a movie stuntman, or a theatre set designer and a glass artist. It's all here: velvet sofas, multimedia light installations, vintage apothecary cabinets, displays of old suitcases and decorated dressmaker's mannequins. It's crazy and colourful and extremely well done; in the wrong hands this kind of design could be a disaster. Some serious money has been spent, and it shows.

So here's what I liked:

The staff. In a place like this, you'd almost expect the staff to be too cool for school. Yet despite being uniformly young and gorgeous, all the staff I encountered from the door to the restaurant, were without fail pleasant, helpful and warm. There are lots of them, they've clearly been well trained and have the kind of approach to service you'd expect at a bigger, slicker operation.

The quirks. For example, when you step into the elevators, music starts to play, based on your number. So, if you're alone, you get 'alone' songs - Are you Lonesome Tonight, etc. When there's two of you, you get Just the Two of Us, and when there are more, you get party music. I liked this, even after hearing All By Myself for the thirtieth time. Only once did I succeed in fooling the system into thinking I was two people, by walking briskly around inside the lift.

The room design. The room I stayed in (in the Gowings side) was gorgeous to look at with its jewel-toned cabinet filled with art glass, mosaic rug, sheepskin throw, dark slate bathroom and freestanding tub. There are lots of cute little touches: artisan glassware, quirky ceramic decorations, creative lighting, a Nespresso machine and cocktail shakers and glasses in the room, along with a cocktail recipe should you feel like whipping up your own. It's a sexy space; you can imagine hunkering in here with your favourite person and not leaving for a whole weekend.

The restaurant and bar. Newly-opened and already super popular. The design in here is a little more restrained, but still colourful, warm and very hip. I'd happily move in here. The kitchen is open, as seems to be the trend, which I also happen to love. It's fantastic being able to see all the backstage work that goes into your food. There is some serious food going on here, too. Creative Food Director is Robert Marchetti, the brains behind Icebergs, North Bondi Italian and a selection of other succesful operations. 

I particularly liked the breakfast menu, which includes some different offerings from the usual, including fish tacos, huevos rancheros and congee. I was also thrilled to see my personal favourite breakfast, boiled eggs and soldiers. (More on dinner here in a future post).

The location. You can't really get better in central Sydney. If you don’t have a view of the harbour, you might as well be just steps from Pitt St and Westfield Sydney, and have private elevator access to the craziness that is Topshop, just opened in the bottom of the building.

A couple of teeny things I didn't like - quibbles really, which I have passed on:

The bathroom lighting and mirrors. I get the feeling a man who does not wear makeup was responsible for this. Smoky mirrors are brilliant for regarding oneself naked, but not so great for applying makeup. Couple that with dim overhead lighting and you end up sitting on the floor, propping up a hand mirror on the ottoman and hoping you don't emerge into the outside world looking like a drag queen. Likewise, a clear, full-length mirror somewhere would really help a girl decide if her outfit is going to work for the day's Sydney activities.

Toilet paper. I'm usually not one to even notice toilet paper - I am incapable of even remembering what brand we use at home. Sandy has much more of an opinion on it, and he would not have been a fan of the two-ply stuff on offer here. The toilet paper did not match the quality of everything else, which was really odd. See, I said these were minor quibbles!

Overall I think the QT is a great addition to the Sydney hotel scene, and offers somewhere really different and fun to stay. If you're looking for a non-generic design and experience with additional inspiration for your home interiors, this is the place for you. 

For more go to www.qtsydney.com.au

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