One would hardly describe Sydney’s QT Hotel as “standard” in any sense of the word. A property that seems to revel in playfully pushing the boundaries of a traditional city hotel, it’s taken a rather distinct position in the marketplace since first opening its doors in 2012. Located literally in the most center of locations in Sydney’s CBD, QT Hotel sits inconspicuously among the city’s shops, historic landmarks, and just a stone’s throw away from the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and The Rocks - all totally walkable. Indeed, it’s QT Sydney’s location that will initially stand out for many travellers. But beyond this obvious perk, you’ll discover a rather unique and curious character to this hotel that deserves more attention.
QT Sydney is mischievous. The hotel almost prides itself on a bold, sultry, and sassy personality, without losing its focus on stellar accommodations, which, in all truth, can be a very delicate balancing act. In today’s hospitality industry, there’s a constant pressure to create a point of difference that is memorable and local for travelers. Yet, place too much emphasis on this, and you’re left with a ostentatious gimmick that results in a suffering level of customer service and standard of accommodation.
QT Sydney successfully achieves this fragile balance in two ways. The first being its immaculately creative styling and design. The entrance to the hotel is anything but traditional, and will, for the most part, be missed by first-time visitors. The main doorway is hardly marked, and guests will walk from a busy street through a cafe, up an elevator to the main lobby. It’s one potential downside is its absence of physical branding exposure. Personally, I view it as a welcome change to the all-too-typical formalities of characterless hotel chains. Walls are dressed with unique artwork; a feature wall of suitcases, drawers, and electric fixtures exemplifies the whimsical and voguishly erratic spirit of the hotel. Bespoke furniture litters the moody lobby, with striking splashes of blues and magentas thrown in among the black and white tones. Enter the elevator, and different music plays according to how many people are inside. The rooms themselves don’t break from the focus on modern individuality either; they’re just plain sexy, to be frank. Deep reds and seductive blacks color the often at times eccentric suites, with unusually eclectic trimmings littered around the walls. The center bed sits almost like a stage in the middle of the room, bordered by a striking headboard, and nearby, a magnificent bathtub takes the spotlight in an oversized bathroom. It’s a celebration of the sensually bizarre and unconventional, without being confronting or uncomfortable. Above all, the unorthodox presentation of these facilities is still practical and most importantly, relaxing.
Second, QT Sydney continues to drive this forward through its extensive food and beverage offerings. At the heart of its culinary tentpole, Gowings Bar and Grill provides a refined and slick hospitality space, serving locally sourced ingredients in a creative and exciting manner, alongside wines that are wisely harmonized with the food that simultaneously uplifts and heightens the dining experience. The European-style brasserie continues its stylish design seen throughout the hotel with polished wood floors and glistening gold trimmings, and the open kitchen and bar creates an immersive dining space. Copper lights dangle, and hand-painted plates hang on the walls. A large wood-fired oven and rotisseries sit as a focal point of the kitchen, with the proudly Australian menu showcasing local suppliers.
In a city commonly known for its breakfast, Gowings serves up the most robust and vibrant of morning feasts, with the spectrum ranging from a classic Gowings Breakfast, wood-fired and hearty, through to a lighter selection of seasonal local fruits and specially made energy juice creations. Naturally leavened stone-baked breads serve as a canvas for the ever-iconic avocado toast or drizzled with honey from the building’s rooftop beehives. It’s an illustration of the kitchen’s constant connection with local produce and purveyors - bringing the surrounding influences of Sydney into the dining room.
The evening menu brings a more refined approach to what is still a very affable line up. Local Australian seafood is celebrated, with sweet and buttery prawns from Crystal Bay spiked with delightful herbal hits of coriander and green chili. The crab cakes, bursting with succulent chunks of luscious Australian Spanner crab are balanced with lively citrus and spicy mustard. Pot-roasted lobster from Shoalhaven is a wonderfully lavish dish, with a uniquely zesty Australian finger lime and smooth butter sauce accentuating the spirited local flavors the kitchen is so fortunate to harness.
A notable selection of Australian steaks take prime position on the dinner menu, with cuts including a pasture fed, bone-in ribeye from Cowra, and a Oakey Reserve Black Angus from farther north in Queensland, tantalizingly smooth and tender, served simply with a light romesco. It’s a menu that’s classically Australian: a highlight reel of the best produce this country is known for - from line-caught fish to small vegetable producers. Dessert initially seems to come straight from a classic, suburban Australian kitchen with a passionfruit Pavlova a must for any first-time visitor. A modern spin on an iconic local dessert, a tower of passionfruit marshmallow and vanilla Chantilly cream is wrapped with an inside out meringue, topped with fresh passionfruit. It’s a playfully crispy and chewy mouthful, and a perfectly traditional marriage of cream and fruit.
As a constantly trending and popular destination, Sydney has no shortage of accommodation options. But it’s QT’s ability to uncover the city’s fascinating history, and that subsequent charmingly cheeky character, that sets this unique and exclusive hotel apart from the others. It’s one of the truly local and charmingly Australian accommodation experiences that guests can find in the heart of this dynamic city, with the notable culinary offerings bringing an impressively local and well composed plate to the table. And for those travelers seeking an authentic taste of the city, it’s one stay that will provide both an enchanting insight and a marvelous night’s sleep in Sydney. The QT is riding the hotel-restaurant renaissance, where the on-site option is also a local favorite.
The journalist writing this article was hosted by QT Sydney.