As hotels go, the QT brand is out there – famed for its quirky decor and flashy focus on art and design. So, it’s interesting to see the latest local iteration at Auckland’s Viaduct is somewhat muted – more of a pearl inside an oyster shell, perhaps.
Due to covenants in the Viaduct precinct, where the hotel is located in the former Pernod Ricard building, the exterior is the same (dare we say) drab grey as other buildings in the area. Step inside, though, and all that changes. A woman dressed in Willy Wonka-esque attire (the Johnny Depp version) is poised to greet guests on arrival, and the concierge is sharply dressed in a teal velvet blazer.
The foyer is lavish, bejewelled with assorted art pieces including a Jennifer Steinkamp digital LED screen shipped in from Sydney, and funky glass sculptures by the hotel’s interior designer, Nic Graham, who has taken an oyster theme and run with it: there are oyster-shaped mirrors, shell shapes in the carpets and oyster-hued wallpaper. As a rule, the QT doesn’t do the beige and neutral tones of your standard five-star hotel, but the shellfish theme isn’t quite as audacious as the animal theme at QT Wellington or the crazy cacti of QT Perth.
A room of one’s own
BusinessDesk stayed in a junior suite, which continues with the grey and oyster colourway. The room is spacious enough that you could comfortably do yoga in front of the picture windows looking out on the Viaduct. Or you could just recline in one of the oyster-shaped Perspex chairs and admire the view.
As you would expect from a $600-a-night suite, the hairdryer is Dyson, the jug is Bodum, the sound speaker Bose and the coffee machine a Nespresso. Even the analogue alarm clock on the bedside is a Braun. There is a generous double shower, a vast, deep bath, and the toilet roll holder even has a shelf for your phone. The hand-blown glasses on the bathroom vanity that are the same material as the sculpture in the foyer are a nice touch.
Dining and drinking
The rooftop at QT Auckland is a happening spot for a pre-dinner tipple and an even better spot to watch the America’s Cup yachts leaving for their races. Do visit the bathrooms while you’re there – the walls are plastered with an interesting mélange of money, bling and poodles.
Downstairs, chef Sean Connolly of The Grill and Gusto fame has done an excellent job with the Mediterranean-style restaurant Esther. This has a relaxed atmosphere, and an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared.
Our menu picks are the lamb tomahawks, which were a highlight, and the excellent bouillabaisse. Simple dishes such as flatbread, duck-fat potatoes and, of course, oysters are executed well.
If you’re in the mood for an after-dinner bar hop, or whatever it is that young people do these days, the QT Auckland is possibly the best address in town, right on the doorstep of the Viaduct precinct, Commercial Bay and downtown Auckland.
There are plenty of unconventional aspects to QT Auckland’s interiors but the powers-that-be have not messed with the fundamentals of a good-quality hotel – great food, a spacious room, a comfortable bed, crisp white sheets and soft pillows. No quirks here, just the basics done well.
4 Viaduct Harbour Ave, Westhaven