Sure, there has always been loads of hotels dotted around the districts radiating from Lake Burley Griffin, but they were sterile address offering the bland experience travellers expect from same-same chains promising a reliable style regardless of location.
QT Canberra is another of the new breed with this address, which has sister properties in locations around Australia including Sydney and Melbourne as well as Falls Creek and Port Douglas, playing on the settlement’s political pace to promise a fun stay.
This is not a new build, with QT Canberra occupying what was once the Lakeside Hotel, and the property makes the most of the back-room deals done at this address over the decades to create a sense of place.
Today there are 205 guest rooms tailored by Melbourne-based stylist Anna Roberts with staff doing their best to subtly inject the brand’s trademark quirk into every suite as well as the public spaces.
Suites are equipped with the signature zany minibar, there are lots of cushions and urbane light fittings scattered about, there’s a drinks counter dressed with antique crystal decanters, a clash of patterned fabrics dress the soft furnishings, and glossy magazines sit on the side table.
My personal favourites are the postcards displayed on the desk that feature politician’s faces and iconic quotes scrawled across the back, the hotel notebook with Gough Whitlam on the cover, and compendium disguised as an old-style notebook.
Each room has a narrow balcony and from my private outdoor space I can see across Parliament House to the tower crowing Black Mountain, with a water vista spanning Lake Burley Griffin, and during sunrise I stand outside to watch the sky turn a dramatic purple and the hot-air balloons that are a regular on the skyline drift past.
It’s the hotel’s location on the edge of New Acton – the cosmopolitan Canberra enclave that’s a trendy drinking-and-dining destination – that guarantees the great views in every direction and puts guests within walking distance of iconic eateries like Mocan & Green Grout, A Baker, and Monster Kitchen.
While there are delicious destinations nearby there are as many mealtime options within the walls with QT Canberra the place to find some of the city’s best bars and restaurants.
Much of the lobby, which features the same glamorous light fittings and bold fabrics as in the suites upstairs, is dedicated to dining with the Capitol Bar & Grill at the back of the open-plan space serving a buffet breakfast in the morning and sophisticated Italian-inspired menu at dinner time.
There exclusive QT Lounge occupies the property’s top floor, but that’s an invitation-only destination that seems to be the private domain of politicians and journalists, but Lucky’s Speakeasy is a more accessible drinking spot open until late on Friday and Saturday nights.
My dining highlight is breakfast with the bountiful buffet offering everything from cold meat and fresh fruit juice served in individual bottles to plates of pastries to a long counter dotted with hot items.
And it seems The Telegraph’s hotel reviewer agrees with me describing this as the place serving the “best hotel breakfast in Canberra’’.
What I like … QT Canberra doesn’t have the same beds as the sister property in Sydney, which are amongst the most comfy I’ve had the pleasure to occupy during my travels, by these are still lush and worth lingering in if you can manage a late start.
What I didn’t … the service at Capitol Bar & Grill is slow during dinner and, while staff are friendly and competent, my group sits for a long time waiting for orders to be taken and food to be served.
QT Canberra is a unique designer hotel that celebrates its history through bold design, a mix of quirky artefacts, bespoke furniture and daring use of colour and political inspired art.QT Canberra press kit