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Having seen just how stylish the staff at QT Sydney looked (not to mention the hotel itself), we couldn’t leave the Australian capital Canberra without popping into the brand new QT Canberra, which opened mere weeks before we walked in on a sparkly sunny Southern Hemisphere autumn-in-April day.
Taking the canvas of the former Rydges Lakeside hotel, QT went to town and transformed the 15-story building on Canberra’s London Circuit into something completely different; our local friends told us it was unrecognizable - and much improved - in its new incarnation. Canberra being the heart of the Australian government, and the hotel having seen its fair share of high-profile guests and hush-hush dealings, political references are plenty – from the live Twitter wall at reception to the politicians’ portraits and wallpaper on the ground floor. Check out the new look of the guestrooms, restaurant, terrace, and speakeasy-style bar below.
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Some like it hot. But more people like it free. We're talking about WiFi here.
In the wake of all of our WiFi news from last week, we've got some great news from the land Down Under, where getting free WiFi or even cheap WiFi is never easy. In fact, it's almost impossible. But not anymore.
Starting this week, Amalgamated Holdings Limited will be offering guests at all their hotels complimentary WiFi to browse the web, check email and Instagram the cool rooms (or so the hotel group hopes.)
Take it from us, WiFi doesn't come cheap at hotels in Oz. We've been offered up some connectivity if we forked over anywhere from $15 to $29.90 per day. Yes, we said per day! Now, you see why this is such a big deal for an entire portfolio of over 40 hotels to ante up some WiFi as part of the nightly rate.
Let this be a little message to other hotels, just do it already! Offering this service can't be that hard, can it?
We’ve come a long way from hotel staff wearing boxy, nondescript uniforms (hell, at some hotels you get to wear Lacroix Couture), but QT Sydney is taking things yet another step further: not only does staff have its stylish uniforms (by costume designer Janet Hine), an in-house stylist is on hand to get the look just so before starting work.
The result is – not surprisingly – some very well put together staff, like the blue-shirted Porters and red-wigged Directors of Chaos at the hotel’s entrance. Their job is getting you out of the hustle of Market Street, into the ornate downstairs gallery (the hotel combines the former Gowings Department Store and State Theatre), and up one floor to reception.
QT Hotels and their quirky properties are changing the hotel landscape Down Under. In case you haven't noticed, we have sort of a big crush on QT here at HotelChatter.
Not familiar with QT? The hotel brand aims to give guests an "anything but ordinary" experience, pairing style with luxury and putting a heavy emphasis on art and of course, the restaurant and bar scene. We also think QT Hotels are exceptionally well-designed and we appreciate their thoughtful amenities like free bike rentals and fully stocked mini-bars. Still need a better frame of reference for QT? This is the hotel brand that let Justin Bieber graffiti their walls the other month.
And now the Aussie capital of Canberra will get in on all of this delightful quirkiness when the QT Canberra opens next month on April 3.
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Here's how things went down, down under. The Biebs and his entourage were visiting the area while on tour and planned to call the 1960s kitsch hotel home for at least one night. For that one night, the singer and his friends went all-Banksy and spray-painted a few retaining walls around the property's tennis courts. Early morning exercisers were greeted to a few brightly colored graffiti-esque objects of art painted by the star himself. This is when things got questionable.
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The landscape of Aussie hotels will be changed for the better this month when the newest brand of hotels opens its doors. If you're planning a trip down under and don't want to smash your piggy bank doing so, then remember this name: Atura Hotels.
The newest option comes to us from a group called Amalgamated Holding Limited, but you might know them better by the work they've been doing with QT Hotels and Rydges Hotels. But instead of resting on their laurels with the cool edginess of QT and the family-resort of Rydges, they've gone a created a new concept that will be appealing to business travelers and those that don't want to miss out on cool hotel design to save a few bucks. (Which is like, everyone everywhere.)
Atura's first property is already checking in guests in Sydney's inner-suburb of Blacktown. Aside from cool design, guests will get free in-room movies, coffee machines and a business center completely outfitted with iMacs. But if you'd rather stay connected on the go, there is free WiFi throughout the hotel and in every guestroom. If you've ever been to Australia, you know this is a big deal since hotels charge a pretty penny for some connectivity.
Super trendy and hip Aussie hotelier, QT Hotels keep on keeping on with expansion news. We've told you about their Gold Coast property, their Sydney stunner, their ski lodge, and their Bondi Beach takeover. Now it's Melbourne's turn to get in on the fun.
The city that Aussies consider to be the cultural capital of Oz is set to get their very own hotel that pushes the limits of 'on trend' with their eclectic use of art, style and location.
Currently, the property is home to a well-known cinema but come April of next year, a demolition will make way for a 12-story hotel. The new building will sport 188 quirky guestrooms with 16 spaces reserved for the management group's new venture of high-end apartments, just like the QT Bondi property. Along with creative rooms and fun little details, the CBD/Chinatown hotel will feature a roof-top deck for wining and a restaurant for dining.
The giant beach-side hotel will get a funky facelift and a high-design room renovation to reflect the QT style that has put them on the map. Just like QT Sydney, (and its four other QT hotels around Oz), the Bondi property will showcase the designs of Nic Graham of g+a Interiors. Not sure if that new elevator gimmick will be in place.
The building will still cater to overnight guests looking for a resort getaway on the beach but it will also feature QT Residences. The residences will sport about 150 fully-contained, fully furnished apartments for quintessential beach living. From the sounds of it, the decor will be a mix of the Gold Coast (60s beach-chic) and Sydney (trendy and urban loft) properties.
We're bringing you a double-dose of QT Hotel news this week, because we couldn't resist the announcement of a new ski resort in Australia. Huh? Australian ski resort? Surely, we meant Austria? Nope! It's true, the sunburned land Down Under actually has some areas that get snow and with the new QT Falls Creek, now's the perfect time to head down to the slopes.
The mastermind hotel designers have taken over the perfect après–ski location situated in the mountainous Great Dividing Range in South Eastern Australia. Just over four hours drive from Melbourne, QT's newest outpost, which was previously Quay West Falls Creek, has 63 alpine one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments that'll have the quirky touch we've come to expect from the brand. Most of the apartments will have private balcony hot-tubs but all will have uninterrupted views of the snow-capped peaks surrounding the resort.
Who would have thought that faux fur and babies would actually go together like peanut butter and jelly? Well, the folks Down Under at the swanky QT Sydney have come up with the perfect package for those looking for the trendiest Babymoon.
Appealing to more parents like Brangelina or Posh and Becks, the QT has introduced the perfect package for fashion-forward parents looking to get get away from it all with, of course, the children. The creative offer features daily breakfast for the grown-ups and freshly made baby-food for the little ones and a spa treatment for both mom and dad. If the sexy digs aren't enough to relax, the room comes with a bottle of sparkling wine to calm the nerves of new (or old) parents.
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As summer nears, hotels are going to start up with the usual warm-weather offerings: rooftop bars, poolside cabanas, and those awkward tanning concierges. But as far as we're concerned, it all boils down to one question: where can we ride a bike for free?
Unless otherwise noted, all of the below hotels offer free bike rentals on a first-come, first-served basis (that means no reserving the night before!), and all bikes come with a helmet and a lock.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the public bikes at Public Chicago, and we recommend you do the same! Guests can grab a Trek Bicycle and take out for a spin down to Lake Shore and cruise along the beach's bike path—which are just three blocks from the hotel. Oh, and did we mention it's free?
In time for the first shoots of spring in London, £1-favorite Hoxton Hotel is now offering guests four custom UK-made Mango Bikes in the hotel’s colors to tool around town in. Both Sanderson and St. Martin’s Lane counter with equipment from the home of cycling, with Dutch bikes by Public J7.
Santa Barbara's El Encanto Resort has something special for adventuresome guests: electric bikes! The electric component can be turned on or off, so if you don't feel like cheating, you can pump all the way to the beach and back. But when it comes time to head back to the hotel (which sits in the Santa Barbara hills), that motor is going to come in pretty handy.
Sofitel So Bangkok offers three bikes for rent—a number suitable for the cast of Three's Company, but hey, free is free! Head across the road and pedal your heart out around Lumpini Park, the city's answer to Central Park, where you can ride along the Komodo Dragons basking in the sun on the banks of the lake.
For 12 more hotels (and hotel brands) with free bike rentals, read on!
Keeping with our series of bending the ear of our favorite barkeeps, we recently had the opportunity to find out what bartender, Nicholas James, from Stingray Lounge at QT Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise thinks about the industry's preferred poisons.
HotelChatter: How many years have you been in the industry and time at Stingray?
Nicholas James: 5 years in the industry, and coming up to nearly one year at Stingray.
HC: What type of formal training do you have?
NJ: I have studied and worked alongside some of Australia’s most recognized and award winning industry professionals in and around Sydney’s small bars, pubs and restaurants.
HC: With such an extensive list of creative cocktails, what is your least favorite to make; the one you go 'really? I have to make that?' but still do it with a smile?