It's been a while since Melbourne's CBD has scored a new boutique hotel, so some of the anticipation building around QT Melbourne's opening on Monday might be the novelty of a new kid on the block. More likely, though, it's because QT Hotels' first property built from the ground up is a genuinely exciting hotel.
Designed by Sydney-based architect Angelo Candalepas, with public spaces and rooms by QT's favourite designers, Nic Graham and architect Shelley Indyk respectively, QT Melbourne is an 11-storey concrete and stone modernist building on the site of the old Greater Union cinema. It has 188 rooms and a floor dedicated to Pascale, the hotel's signature bar and grill, with an open kitchen, glassed-in wine rooms and expansive, luxuriously upholstered lounges. There's a ground-floor café and aperitivo bar called The Cake Shop, a rooftop bar, a Japanese-Korean laneway bar called Hot Sauce and, beside it, a shop that sells handcrafted Japanese knives.
QT Hotels always do good first impressions, and their Melbourne property is no exception. A double-height lobby houses an aged-brass reception counter etched with scenes from Collins Street's Paris End. The Cake Shop serves pastries made in an in-house "pastry cube" by a Robuchon-trained pâtissier. Original artwork includes an intriguing installation by Clare Healy and Sean Cordeiro titled Double Horizon, comprising thousands of trashy paperbacks meticulously stacked to towering heights.
Double Horizon sits to one side of the lobby's central, international Klein blue-carpeted stairs leading to Pascale on the first floor. Pascale's menus are designed by QT creative food director Robert Marchetti and realised by executive chef Paul Easson, formerly of Melbourne's Rockpool Bar & Grill. The theme is modern Euro bistro - think terrines, grilled meat and fish, freshly shucked oysters - with much of the heavy lifting done by a Josper oven and a bespoke charcoal grill.
QT Melbourne's rooms have an industrial look with spacious bathrooms screened by sliding doors of rippled glass and black metal, oak floors, leather furniture and large baths in the Executive King rooms, where they are located prominently in the main room. Less exuberantly quirky than other QT properties, QT Melbourne's guestrooms have a calm elegance. The group's fabled minibar offering still surprises: children's books and games alongside quality booze and snacks. Also surprising are the interactive lifts, with accented female voices (Eastern European, French, English) calling out to guests as they exit.
There's plenty of natural light and city views, with large windows at the ends of corridors, in public spaces and in rooms.
QT Melbourne displays the group's trademark quirkiness, but it's toned down to a suitably Melbourne volume. It's emerged feeling just about right.
QT Melbourne opens on Monday 5 September. Pascale begins all-day service from breakfast on Tuesday 6 September, and Hot Sauce will open Wednesday 14 September. Rooms from $350. 133 Russell St, Melbourne, (03) 8636 8800, qtmelbourne.com.au