An ideally located and eclectic hotel brimming with public spaces for guests and locals alike
A far cry from its previous existence as a scuzzy Greater Union cinema, Melbourne's ideally located QT Hotel is opulent and super-trendy. Arriving at the big copper doors of the 188-room hotel, guests are greeted by smiley "Directors of Chaos," whose identically matched outfits and wigs are nothing if not theatrical (and a little kooky). Inside, the foyer is lush and textured—stone, velvet, leather, timber and brass all collide in a way that's enticing. A wall of books leads up to the restaurant, next to a stuffed peacock, and on the far left, there's a patisserie known as The Cake Shop. With so much happening on the ground floor alone, we wanted to speak with Nic Graham, the Public Space Designer for QT Melbourne.
Graham, addressing the overall brief for the bars, restaurants, cafe and lobby at the hotel, says that "Each QT adapts to the character of its location so you have to carry across the DNA from one property to another, and then in each property find a unique story to tell. Researching a local story and narrative based around a sense of place was key to QT Melbourne. The DNA of QT’s touch-points—art, design, fashion, architecture, music, film and food—is vital in conveying this narrative." Since there are so many touch-points, it makes sense that the hotel has an eclectic style. Graham continues, "QT Melbourne is very much inspired by the laneway stories of the early 1900 rag trade in nearby Flinders Lane and the contrast of the ‘Paris End’ of Collins Street... Vintage elements blended with modern, concrete abutting brass and bronze, and floral against pattern are some of the design highlights."
Climbing the wide staircase from the lobby, visitors are met with the sprawling bar and restaurant, Pascale Bar + Grill. It's dimly lit, but warm and rich with texture. The open kitchen is walled by a gold bar, and the many patterns, fabrics, colors and artworks clash in a delightful manner. "With Pascale we wanted to create a moody bistro feel, complemented by velvet banquettes, custom rugs and custom furniture. Diners are engaged by Pascale’s element of drama, with a carpet runway, detailed playful wallpaper and wall mounted plates, with vibrant pops of color throughout the space," Graham tells us. "It was a strong focus to create a mood that is fresh for morning coffee with daylight, and candlelight ambience after hours."
To follow along with the Melbourne cliche, the coffee is perfect, and the breakfast menu is vast. Also on this floor is a conference room with a view onto the street below. Graham says, "We love to have fun with color (the client was unsure of the pink carpet in the meeting rooms for example), artwork (many of the pieces we bought locally, close to opening) and graphics, and indeed the final weeks of accessorizing and finishing touches are always accidental until all elements work together."
The guest rooms were designed by Shelley Indyk, and we stayed in the sizable Corner Room—on the top floor, steps away from the rooftop bar but hidden well enough to escape any party sounds. With a free-standing tub in the corner, overlooking Exhibition St, the room has ample space for lounging, eating and working. The large desk is set up with USB and electrical plugs and desk lamps; making it one of the better work spaces we've come across on our travels.
The bathroom's sliding doors mean that it can be opened onto the bedroom, or kept private—the only potential flaw with this system is that the same rolling door cordons the toilet and the shower, so can only close off one at a time. That said, opening up the rest of the bathroom to the spacious bedroom is charming and our favorite design aspects of the room. Little touches like MALIN+GOETZ bathroom products, black (instead of classic white) robes and a special "Emergency Breakfast Kit" for hungover guests (a Bloody Mary and Ultimate Breakkie Roll) add a distinct personality to the hotel.
Finally, the rooftop bar is the crowning jewel. The indoor/outdoor venue is spacious and offers plenty of seating—as well as a view. Again the furnishing and artwork is varied, with bright green tiles on the bar, velvet stools, wicker chairs, metal accents and hanging plants creating a multifarious appearance. The bar (open from noon Friday through Sunday, and 4:30PM during the week) offers plenty of drinks and snacks that will keep you up there all afternoon and night. There are a lot of sparkling wines and Champagne on the menu, plus excellent and thoughtful cocktails—we suggest the Tom Kha Gai Margarita (made with Cazadores Blanco tequila, coconut, sage, chili and fresh lime) or their Ghost of Mary (a take on the Bloody Mary, made with jalapeño-infused vodka—complete with a slice of pancetta). As for snacks, it's difficult to pass up the The King of Dogs (a hotdog with Andouille pork and beef sausage, Coney Island mustard pickle, raw onion and served with onion rings), but keep in mind there isn't a huge number of options for vegetarians. It's a sky-high oasis in the busy city, and is open to hotel guests as well as locals.
Graham explains the overall atmosphere should be one of "intrigue, but also a sense of familiarity—stories about comfort mixed with new experiences was achieved through a Euro-inspired melange of old meets new. We hope that we have included memorable local Melbourne touches, too. A bit of drama and sass, we always try to create elements of surprise, evoking memory with hints of vintage and creating new memories with new ideas and concepts."
Reservations for QT Melbourne can be made online; room rates start at $295 AUD per night.
Third and fifth images by Cool Hunting, all others courtesy of QT Hotel