QT Sydney: the hottest, hippest historic hotel in town
With red-wigged, black leather-clad "Directors of Chaos" ushering in guests at the entrance, theatricality is a tenet of QT Sydney, the most audacious hotel to arrive in the city in a decade.
The much-hyped experience starts as soon as you step into the lobby, which feels like a cool art cinema foyer -- complete with vintage movie posters, primary colors and a carefully compiled soundtrack.
The place is sexy. There's no doubt about that.
But before you settle into your room and mix yourself the hotel’s signature espresso Martini with the Belvedere vodka and Patrón XO Cafe tequila beckoning from your welcome tray, you might want to take some time to study the hotel’s hallowed heritage.
Seventeen months and $65 million
Amalgamated Holdings Limited, the parent company of Greater Union and Event cinemas as well as the Rydges Hotels & Resorts, is the powerhouse behind the QT Sydney vision -- fitting, given the hotel's theatrical bent.
The project, which opened late last year, was huge.
QT Sydney took 17 months to develop with a price tag of approximately AU$70 million (US$65 million).
It unites two heritage-listed lights of the CBD’s golden age -- the State Theatre property’s shopping and office complex (designed by leading theater architect Henry E. White and built in 1929-1930) and the Gowings Building (conceived by well-known retail architect Crawford H. Mackellar and completed in 1929), home to a famous men’s department store.
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Some of the most impressive and moodiest rooms are in the State Theatre section -- the property’s most luxurious suites are on level 10, with original veneer paneling and an illustrious corporate history.
AHL’s senior management’s offices and main boardroom were housed here, and the original fireplace, timber cabinets and decorative plaster ceilings still exist within suite 1022.
The Gowings section’s contemporary loft appeal has light-filled corner suites, with wooden floorboards and great views to the Queen Victoria Building, another Sydney icon.
At the end of the hallway on each floor of the Gowings Building one of the property’s former doors has been hung, going nowhere.
The old doors were not adequately fire safe by modern day building laws. But they are sill heritage listed, with their compliance plates on display, as required by the council.
The new fireproof timber (Queensland maple) doors to all Gowings’ guest rooms mimic the appearance and weight of the imposing originals.
The State Theatre wing was Australia’s first multi-level shopping mall and the exceptionally wide corridors reflect this promenading past.
Period urinals, marble partitions and timber doors can be found in bathrooms on the State Theatre Lobby Level 1 northeast corner and were installed 1929.
This bathroom has been recreated using original fittings and fixtures sourced from numerous bathrooms previously located throughout the building.
The gargoyles of the State Theatre building exterior were removed during World War II because of the concern that Sydney would be bombed. The statues were placed in storage and nobody’s seen them since.
The modern-day recreations -- interpretations from archival images -- are best seen from the suites on the Market Street side of State Level 10.
Art all about
QT Sydney is one of the city's few art hotels with its own curator, Amanda Love.
Fabio Ongarato-designed hand statues clasp the hotel room numbers in the State Theatre wing; larger hi-tech diversions can be seen in public thoroughfares.
There's also cutting edge Australian and international video art, such as the Grant Stevens (Brisbane) installation at the entrance of Gowings Bar & Grill.
Shelley Indyk, designer of the hotel’s rooms and suites, along with consultants ARTDUO, chose the work of contemporary artists Richard Blackwell (Canberra) and Sydney’s own Morgan Shimeld for rooms.
Blackwell produced illusion themed pieces, while Shimeld created the steel wall sculptures.
There is a spa level to the State Theatre wing, where the original tiled Gowings empire barbershop has been conserved but now operates as two spa treatment rooms in spaQ.
The new barbershop has a resolutely old school esthetic, with a young shaveologist working with the setting’s natural light, in a location that has seen a changing roster of retail tenants over the years.
In terms of dining, the Gowings Bar & Grill is an expansive dining space in the former Gowings site, with a generous, meat-loving menu and macho open kitchen.
If you've had too much foodie largesse for one evening, you could always head back to your room for a lollipop, a cheeky side-kick to the mini bar’s "intimacy kit."
49 Market St.; +61 2 8262 0000; US$433 per night; www.qtsydney.com.au
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