Hot hotels: QT's a quirky stay on the Gold Coast

Photo of Gemma Nisbet

With art installations, a "high tea for gents" and a retro beach club vibe, this luxurious but playful Surfers Paradise hotel stands out from the crowd. 

From a distance, the QT Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise doesn’t look too different from the other high-rise hotels and apartment blocks that have defined this stretch of coast since the late 1950s and 60s.

But then I spot a retro baby-blue Holden station wagon parked out front, with a longboard strapped to the roof rack. It’s a hint: they do things differently here.

This was QT Hotels and Resorts’ first property when it was launched in 2012 by Event Hospitality and Entertainment (then AHL), which also owns the Rydges hotels and the Thredbo ski resort.

And while each of the QT properties that has opened since — in Canberra, Falls Creek, Port Douglas, central Sydney, Bondi, Wellington and Melbourne — has its own feel, the 297-room QT Gold Coast is a good example of what the brand is all about: luxurious, with a playful, quirky touch.

The theme is “nostalgic surfer chic meets Miami catwalk cool”, with stylised nods to the 1950s and 60s combined with a modern spin.

Take the lobby: pops of vivid colour from mid-century modern-style furnishings, oversized pendant lights, and a display of retro clocks facing a digital installation by American artist Jennifer Steinkamp. One of the hotel’s vintage-style cruiser bikes, which are free for guests to use, is propped beside a retro-futuristic white chair. Staff are uniformed in tropical colours and big windows look out to the pool area.

The vintage-beach-club vibe continues upstairs on the 15th floor in my King Ocean View room. Along with a big, comfortable bed, there’s a bathroom equipped with posh toiletries by New York brand Malin + Goetz, a silky boxing-style bathrobe and possibly the most extensive mini-bar I’ve ever seen, with everything from sunscreen and playing cards to a waterproof camera and an “emergency bow tie” in a tin. There’s also a beach towel, plus thongs and colourful mesh beach bags to use during my stay. And, though the hotel’s a street back from the beachfront, I have a good view to the beach from my balcony, where I watch the sun rise over the ocean.

First, though, there’s plenty to keep me entertained elsewhere in the hotel. There’s the QSpa, where I enjoy one of the best massages I’ve ever had, and the QTea high tea, where we’re treated to champagne and T2 teas along with a selection ranging from traditional quiches and salmon roulades to novel fare such as savoury eclairs with caramelised onion, tomato and basil macarons, white-chocolate beach balls and what looks to be a delicate ham-and-cheese sandwich but is actually a sponge cake with jam. 

The hotel also offers a Man Tea, a “high tea for gents”, which it says is the only one of its kind in Australia. Despite the name, there’s no actual tea involved — instead, blokey food such as Wagyu beef sliders and savoury donuts is paired with beer, bourbon, whisky or rum.

That afternoon, we tour the hotel’s organic fruit and vegetable garden, where its chefs have transformed an underused terrace into a productive space growing everything from lemons, mint and parsley to dragon fruit and finger limes. 

Then there’s a cocktail-making class, where we learn how to make two of the hotel bar’s most popular drinks — including the passionfruit-flavoured Skinny Pash — before heading upstairs for dinner at Bazaar, an up-market buffet inspired by street markets. Somewhat unusually for a hotel restaurant, it’s apparently popular with locals too.

Certainly it’s buzzy and busy tonight, as is the glamorous lounge bar Stingray on the ground floor. 

But I head upstairs to the sanctuary of my room, where I open the sliding window and step out on to the balcony. Far below, mingling with the night-time sounds of the streets, I can hear the ocean. 

Fact File


Gemma Nisbet was a guest of QT Hotels and Airtrain.


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