QT Canberra brings new meaning to the term ‘political party’.
If only the walls of QT Canberra could talk. The quirky reimagined QT Canberra has hosted everyone from celebrities to diplomats and political bigwigs over the past decade. And while there might not be as much cloak-and-dagger bed-hopping or backstabbing as per the political TV drama House of Cards, it’s still a see-and-be-seen kind of stay. Here’s what to expect when you check into QT Canberra.
The QT brand reimagined the Rydges Lakeside Hotel in Canberra in 2014. And in doing so, it applied its quirky QT formula of ‘crazy + sexy = cool’ to an extensive redevelopment of the 205-room hotel. The original hotel was built at One London Circuit in 1970 and it has great mid-century Brutalist bones.
Designed by Peddle, Thorp & Walker back in 1972, the building is one of the most iconic landmark buildings in the nation’s capital. And, now its achingly cool interiors have been finessed, it’s become one of Canberra’s many modernist buildings and a real eye-catcher.
Stay in the heart of the city at QT Canberra.
In its heyday, the hotel hosted several milestone political party catch-ups, clandestine meetings, glamorous gatherings, and conferences. But the $6 million makeover and design changes brought about by QT mean the storied hotel is now in step with the hip and happening NewActon precinct. And according to the QT Canberra website, it remains a place where culture and politics collide.
QT Canberra is in the arts and cultural precinct of NewActon in the so-called ‘capital of cool’. It’s also a short stroll from Lake Burley Griffin, boasting views from either side. Make the QT Canberra your starting point on a self-guided tour of Canberra’s most iconic architecture.
The designer accommodation looks elegant and spacious. (Image: VisitCanberra)
The style of the rooms
Our suite at QT Canberra is best described as minimalist chic, with the monochromatic theme brightened by pops of colour and quirk. Take the signature QT cocktail station. Or the cute pillow featuring a bespectacled dog.
Each room comes with modern decor.
Although the reimagined rooms remain compact, they are now both fun and functional with a king-sized custom QT Dream bed and balcony that you can open to breathe in the crisp Canberra air. The pocket-sized bathroom also ticks all the boxes: big mirror, large rain showerhead, good lighting, and quality toiletries from Kevin Murphy.
QT Canberra State Suite is a stylish two-bedroom penthouse apartment.
The small but perfectly formed rooms embrace the arty and edgy luxury that underpins the QT brand. Pull the curtains back in the rooms to reveal a long balcony that boasts views over Black Mountain, Australian National University and Lake Burley Griffin.
Settle in the QT Canberra Superior King Room.
Pops of yellow break up the neutral palette of blacks and whites and allow the natural light to butter the space. The room totally owns the 80s vibes. You will feel like you’re nailing it in your new life as a digital nomad when you book the QT Superior Room, which has fast internet, free wi-fi and an ergonomic desk.
Expect old-school charm and service fit for a prime minister and a front-row seat to any covert political power plays.
Drift off to sleep in a QT Canberra Twin bed.
The sprawling ground floor is QT’s crowning glory. It encompasses the reception, lobby and lounge areas, and the entrance to Lucky’s Speakeasy (available for private hire only) and the Capitol Bar & Grill.
Hire Lucky’s Speakeasy for private events.
Dominated by dark and moody tones and complemented by blond wood and monochromatic, patterned furnishings, it’s modern and sophisticated. It’s also full of playful, cheeky winks and nods to the site’s heavyweight political history.
Find a floor-to-ceiling wine fridge in the wine cellar. (Image: VisitCanberra)
Neon Twitter feeds scroll down mirrors next to the reception, and the wallpaper is a brilliant kaleidoscopic pattern of pollies. The central lobby area also features a few glass-domed cabinets filled with politically themed knick-knacks. If you’re here to hobnob with members of parliament, you’ll be right in position.
Although there are a lot of knowing nods to the hotel’s role in Australia’s political history, it’s worth taking a tour of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. It’s one of the best things to do in Canberra.
QT Canberra bar and lobby evoke an eclectic but chic ambience.
Restaurants and food available
Turn the corner and you come to a cool lounge area where neon and pop-art portraits of world leaders past and present – from Kim Jong-un to Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy – line the corridor. This leads us to the Capitol Bar & Grill, where we settle in for a drink by the slick gas fireplace before dinner in the buzzing restaurant, one of many highlights of our stay.
Settle in for a drink at Capitol Bar & Grill.
The menu designed by QT’s executive chef Michael Box is both simple and sophisticated. The pasture-fed 1.2 kg T-bone Bistecca Fiorentina from the dry-age cabinet coaxes out the inner carnivore and is charred to perfection.
Partake in an afternoon tea at QT Canberra Sky High Tea. (Image: QT Canberra)
We do as the waiter suggests and opt for the tiramisu with dense layers of creamy mascarpone spiked with a shot of The Little Marionette espresso, cocoa nibs and hazelnut. Choosing from the cheese trolley is quite the experience and includes some tableside theatrics. We finish with a few wedges of the finest local and imported cheeses and a glass of red.
Head to Capitol Bar after dinner to experience mixology at its finest, with seasonal cocktails carrying us through the night. It’s one of the best bars in Canberra for a tipple or two.
QT Hotel Canberra offers sleek designer rooms at the heart of the city. (Image: VisitCanberra)
The verdict: QT has shaken up Canberra’s hospitality scene with its signature blend of playful, chic décor. It also has serious culinary clout.
The score: 18/20; great
We rated: The dining experience is reason alone to visit Canberra.
We’d change: The ‘luxe’ factor could be dialled up a little in the rooms, but you’ll want for nothing.
Where: QT Canberra, 1 London Circuit, Canberra, ACT
Notes: We paid $229 for a QT Kingroom room (plus a $25 overnight parking fee)
Contact: 02 6247 6244
NB: All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.