What's a QT? It's the first new five-star hotel in Sydney, Australia, in a decade. It opened in late September in the heart of the city but boasts an architectural pedigree that extends back more than 80 years. The upper floors of two listed structures - the Gowings building and the State Theatre, both completed in 1929 - have been joined into one, but with the historical interior design flourishes of each preserved. Think inter-war classicism honed with a laser finish.
Is it hip? If it were any more so, it would have to come with a warning. Everything about the place says - nay, drawls - "too cool for school". Even the lifts are hip, playing different music according to the number of people in them. Solo travellers are likely to hear Elvis crooning Are You Lonesome Tonight.
What about the design? Hard to pigeonhole, although "eclectic theatrical vintage" might cover it. From the sexy reception area, cast in the ultramarine hue made famous by French painter Yves Klein in the 1950s, to the digital artworks, it's what you might expect from Nic Graham, the designer behind the W hotels in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Much of the furniture was custom designed by him, including the gorgeous metallic silver chaise and hounds-tooth armchairs in the lobby. A life-sized leather rhinoceros, sourced from a London antique store, is guaranteed to scare the kiddies. There's little doubt the QT sets a new benchmark for boutique accommodation in Sydney.
Are there nods to the past? Of course. Spanning two heritage buildings, many original elements have been retained, including the ornate ceilings, timber floors, industrial fire doors and gilded display cases from the State Theatre's shopping block. We love the 1930s urinals and marble partitions in the men's washrooms. Even the original barbershop space in Gowings, formerly a menswear store, has been reincarnated as a treatment room in the Spa Q.
So there's a spa then? A very good one, too. It has a kind of postmodern industrial aesthetic, with oversized light bulbs and wiring, chemistry lab oil burners and art deco wall tiles. The signature "caviar facial" isn't as fishy as it sounds. Blokes will appreciate the traditional barber shop and its clean cut-throat shave in an antique Koken chair. If you ask the barber nicely, he might even let you use the hydraulic lever to move the chair up and down. Fun.
Are the guest rooms comfortable? You'll feel like Rip Van Winkle. Stretch out on the QT gel mattress (it weighs a hefty 82kgs), and you're likely to wake up some time in 2032. The rooms are spacious and light-filled, with high ceilings and glamorous golden drapes. Fixtures and fittings are first class; think Kartell bedside lamps, Flos desk lights, Gessi taps and custom-made emu-skin bed-heads. There are 200 guest rooms and at least two-thirds have city views.
What if I'm hungry? You are in luck. The Gowings Bar and Grill serves Euro-bistro-style dishes such as wood-fired yellowfin tuna steak rubbed in fennel, coriander seeds and rosemary, with a chopped salad of grape tomatoes, fennel confit and young chicory. Follow that with a deconstructed apple crumble with salted caramel ice cream. The wine list focuses on small-batch boutique wineries. The Gilt Lounge cocktail bar is a hit with the city's movers and shakers.
What about the staff? They seem mostly to come from Europe and are achingly beautiful. And yes, very attentive, too. In keeping with the theatrical vibe, their uniforms were created by a theatre costume designer.
It sounds amazing, so what's the damage? Published rates start from about HK$3,400 a night.
QT Sydney is at 49 Market Street, Sydney, Australia, tel: 61 02 8262 0000; www.qtsydney.com.au