I don’t often find myself with a reason to visit Sydney, which is a shame really since the city is so beautiful. So when I decided to fly up for a media event a few weeks ago, I thought to myself, why not stay a little longer and explore some of the city? One of the first things I do when trying to figure out where to stay is to always head to the Design Hotels™ website. These hotels are always my preference since they’re so full of character. On my trip to Sydney, I couldn’t look past the QT Sydney for its quirky edge. Read on for the full review and you’ll see what I mean!
Checking into Sydney’s edgiest hotel: QT Sydney
If you want to be close to those big-ticket Sydney attractions, the location of the QT Sydney can’t be beaten. Set within the historic heritage-listed Gowings department store building and the State Theatre, the hotel couldn’t be more central. Within 10 minutes walk you can find yourself at Circular Quay, The Rocks or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Stroll for just a few minutes more and you’ll be at Darling Harbour (15 minutes), the Sydney Harbour Bridge (20 minutes) and even the Sydney Opera House (25 minutes).
Conveniently, the hotel is just 12 km from the airport and you can either take the Airport Link train or grab a taxi or Uber. If you get a good run, it can take as little as 20 minutes from door to door.
Spread across the top floors of two of Sydney’s landmark heritage buildings (the Gowings building and the State Theatre), the design of the QT Sydney marries the past with the present. The hotel retains many of the buildings’ most distinctive heritage features but with a fun, contemporary twist. Accents from the original buildings have been featured throughout the space, including original doors, cabinets, tiling, stained glass and timber flooring.
The hotel is divided into two wings, housed in each building. Staying true to the buildings’ original designs, the wings couldn’t be more different. Rooms in the State Theatre wing are dimly lit and feature lush rugs and carpets, while bright and airy rooms with original timber flooring are found in the Gowings wing. Eccentric touches are a feature of every room – think DIY martini kits, ceramic animals, bowler hat lamps and emergency bowties.
We’d jetted up from Melbourne on an early flight and so found ourselves wheeling our baggage into the hotel lobby at 11am. I thought there’d surely be no chance we’d be able to check in so early, so was completely surprised when we were told our room was ready right away! It’s such a lovely feeling to be able to go straight to your room and freshen up before heading out.
While we were super grateful to be able to access our room so early, glancing around the lobby made me almost wish I had an excuse to linger there! With its art deco design, retro collectibles and its bold, statement pieces, it was a pretty inviting space to hang out in.
Although the hotel is home to 200 guestrooms, its boutique feel makes it seem much smaller than that. We booked an Executive King Room for its extra roominess and its signature bathtubs. While I loved the design of the rooms, we unfortunately experienced a few issues with sound during our stay. This led to us having to switch rooms twice. While I’m sure most of the rooms are quiet, when you’re booking your stay, be sure to request a room away from the service elevator (which hums through the walls constantly). Also, avoid staying in a room that’s directly above the Gilt Lounge as its thumping music will reverberate through your room until after 2am.
Due to the inconvenience we experienced with sound insulation, the staff kindly provided us with late checkout and a complimentary bottle of wine, which was appreciated.
Tucked away up a staircase off the lobby is Gowings Bar & Grill – a sophisticated fine dining construct in the style of a European brasserie. It was a treat watching the talented chefs work in the open kitchen against the backdrop of the wood fire rotisserie and the unique glass seafood room. The menu celebrates the wood fired cooking technique as well as local, artisan produce.
For dinner I couldn’t look past the line caught pink snapper with slipper lobster and persian saffron, while Ben indulged in a bone-in rib eye steak. It was mouthwateringly good. The restaurant is often booked out with pre-show diners filling their bellies before heading to the theatre next door so be sure to reserve a table in advance.
If you’re in the mood for partying, you can find the music pumping in the hotel’s Gilt Lounge. From the sound of the music reverberating into our room until the early hours of the morning, maybe we should have been downstairs hitting up the dancefloor instead of trying to catch some z’s!
Find a caffeine hit or a quick bite at Parlour Lane Roasters on the ground floor, just off Market Street. It’s a bustling place that serves everything from espresso to aperitivo.
Other facilities and services
One thing you absolutely can’t leave without doing is booking a treatment at the spaQ. Exing the elevator, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d travelled back in time to a century-old apothecary! Like every other element of the hotel, the design of the spa is unique. There’s also a barber shop next door complete with antique leather chairs and glasses of whisky waiting for the boys.
Unlike many other spas that ask you to lock in a specific treatment when booking, the spaQ encourages you to simply book a timeslot instead. You can then decide on the treatment based on how you feel when you arrive. Travelling always takes a toll on my skin so after talking with the therapist, I opted for a 60 minute USPA Custom Facial. It was so relaxing and my skin felt amazing afterwards.
Book this hotel if…
If you’re after a central hotel in the heart of Sydney but want something with a little more character than the usual offerings, the QT Sydney could be your place. There is an energy about this hotel that attracts a party-ready, hipster crowd and those with an eye for good design. It’s playful and stylish and even though it’s a big hotel, it retains a boutique feel. If you’re a light sleeper, you could be in need of an extra coffee or two come morning, which, fortunately, you don’t have to search too far for.
Rooms can be booked through the Design Hotels™ website.
Looking for more reviews of other Design Hotels™ we’ve stayed at? Read these next:
- Honeymoon Heaven in Seminyak: The Elysian Boutique Villa Hotel
- Beachside Chic at the Papaya Playa Project in Tulum
Or planning a trip around Australia’s east coast? Check out these posts:
- A Guide to Byron Bay: Where to Eat, Stay and Play
- A Local’s Guide to the Whitsunday Islands in Australia
- First Time to the Great Barrier Reef? 10 Things to Know Before You Go
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