Hotel Review: QT, Newcastle

REGISTRATION

“Heads of Chaos” in silky capes and toques welcome guests to QT’s first regional hotel (not to mention Falls Creek which is no longer in the stable). Housed in the heritage-listed David Jones building, the 104-room QT Newcastle (QT’s 10th property) is leading Iris Capital’s $880 million East End revitalization spanning four city blocks.

Guests are ushered into a terracotta tiled foyer with LED mirrored walls, a moon hanging from the ceiling and a striking pink circular sculpture by Sydney artist Ryan Hoffmann. Check-in is done via self-service terminals (a first QT) which refer to the QT application. Fortunately, the friendly staff (in Romance Was Born uniform) are on hand if needed.

THE LOOK

There is more than one similarity between QT Newcastle and QT Sydney, the flagship of the group, both adapted from department stores. Newcastle’s second five-star hotel (Crystalbrook Kingsley opened last year) retains the historic building’s historic facade and clock tower, signage dating from 1893 and original pressed metal ceilings. Clever black and white striped awnings are a nod to the building’s commercial past.

Long-time QT collaborator Nic Graham has reinvigorated the iconic building, respecting the raw shell and adding QT’s signature contemporary style. Blocks of color and juxtaposed textures pay homage to Newcastle’s industrial heritage and its coastline.

Works by six Australian artists – including a silver chair and the ‘2.7’ sign (Newcastle’s most famous band and the mile-long new light rail respectively) – reference the city’s past and present .

The original beams of the 113-year-old building adorn 40 rooms.

BEDROOM

No two rooms are the same in the nine-story hotel, offering views or glimpses – depending on room category and floor – of Newcastle Harbor or Christ Church Cathedral framed by heritage windows from the floor to ceiling. Jade subway tiles and brushed brass star in bathrooms, steel mesh cabinets on casters mimic charcoal bins while suites offer freestanding tubs.

There are eight room configurations ranging from 22 square meters to the spectacular 35 square meter Clock Suite with its arched windows and oversized circular bath below the back of the restored historic dial. All feature charcoal colored floors, Dyson hairdryers, Nespresso machines, T2 tea, Kevin Smith amenities, brushed copper side tables, QT’s famous Dream Bed, sliding glass doors reed, tablets in the room and fluffy bathrobes. In addition to Hunter Valley wine, elevated mini-bars stock locally-made Earp Distilling Co Gin and sachets of edible dried flowers for impromptu cocktail parties (shaker included).

If you can’t stand leaving Fido at home, two “Pup Yeah” rooms include a custom-designed dog bed and room service dishes such as steak and risotto designed by Chef Massimo Speroni.

GASTRONOMY + WINE

Unsurprisingly, food and drink underpin the QT Newcastle experience. Speroni (ex Bacchus and San Domenico and Michelin-starred Cafe le Paillotes in Italy) runs the modern Australian signature Jana and Rooftop bar and grill at QT. Jana’s features a locally-focused menu (almost everything is NSW-sourced), a dry-aged meat cabinet, an open kitchen, a huge moon hanging from the ceiling, and leather banquettes. Steak is king here with six different aged cuts ranging from a tri-tip to a scotch tenderloin wagyu. There are also hints of Speroni and chef Manuele Erriu’s Italian heritage in dishes like black truffle spaghettini. The trevally crudo with kombu dashi and natural yoghurt is remarkable.

The city’s tallest open rooftop bar with 170 moons hanging from the ceiling takes inspiration from the Land of the Rising Sun with an innovative izakaya and Newcastle’s largest Japanese whiskey library. Order a single malt whiskey and take in the 180 degree view of the harbor stretching out to Nobbys Lighthouse. Custom wallpaper is designed to make you feel like you are under the sea.

OUTSIDE + ABOUT

The QT Newcastle sits prominently in the western corner of the East End development (make no mistake: the hotel isn’t actually located in east Newcastle) opposite Hunter Street Shopping Centre. The working port, great cafes and restaurants including Mr Sister, Oh My Papa, Meet and Humbug are on its doorstep; Newcastle Beach is two stops on the light rail.

Take a stroll at Nobbys Breakwall or huff and puff the city’s own version of San Francisco’s hilly streets to the Newcastle Memorial Walk. A Newy Rides tour exploring the city’s thriving little bars and fabulous street art is great fun.

THE VERDICT

Yet another big step forward for Newcastle, QT is providing a much-needed injection of its quirky and fun designer flair to Australia’s second oldest city.

ESSENTIAL

185 Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW 2300. Rooms from $329. See qtnewcastle.com

UNDERLINE

Knowledgeable waiters deliver equal parts seductive banter and dish descriptions, then magically disappear at the right time.

LOW LIGHT

The ringing on the tablet in the room could scare off unsuspecting guests and it was difficult to determine what was really making such a racket.

OUR SCORE OUT OF FIVE

★★★★☆

Sheriden Rhodes visited as a guest of QT Hotels and Resorts.

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