Fuck, quirky is a frustrating word. Used to describe anything that sits beyond an accepted kilter – like the stoner chick you liked at uni, the one who eagerly danced to a soundtrack that quickly skipped from Buffalo Tom to Tom Waits – as an adjective, it’s too often inadequate, disposable. It’s lazy. And damn if many haven’t overused it to describe QT Hotels since they landed on the Gold Coast some years ago. In this context it’s seemingly a word that’s come to frame the hotel chain’s overuse of aqua and burnt orange furnishings, as well as the personalised ‘elevator music’.
Or, the obscure bellhops’ ‘costumes’ and the fact staff are referred to as ‘Directors of Chaos’ – please. Thankfully, the latest piece in the rapidly expanding property group’s puzzle cuts back on the quirk. And while that will make things arduous for some travel writers, it’s very much welcome – especially given such stage-managed eccentricity wouldn’t have worked in Melbourne. Because Melbourne’s long known what it likes in a hotel – best keep it simple, stylish, muted in tone and fantastic on food.
The QT Melbourne sits on the former Greater Union cinemas site on Russell Street: it’s that end of town and for that we’re already fans. It means the action – that is, drinking, dining and dispensing of one’s measly income in designer boutiques – is all nearby. Rooms – ours a QT Executive King – are light and spacious, with city views, a lavish bed and freestanding bath, with welcome freebies in the form of Nespresso coffee pods and machines, as well as in-house movies and wi-fi (seriously, when will the rest of this country catch on?). As for the food, it’s here the property will do what few others have achieved in the Victorian capital – to make hotel dining a destination. Pascale Bar & Grill is a Euro-style bistro that sets a broad menu.
Standouts include the pretzel-crumbed whiting, the shared wagyu beef tomahawk and the ‘Napoleon Blanky’ raspberry mille-feuille, the appearance of which prompted some weird Germanic rubber fetish. (Just us?) Being Melbourne, there’s also a laneway eatery – of course there is – the breezy Jap-Kor (that’s a thing) Hot Sauce, where adventurous street eats include the Steam and Stuff Me Baos, Taiwanese Hot Dog and a Big Ass Bowl of Asia.
As we wander into summer, however, it’s the Rooftop that’s set to act as a rather large lure. There aren’t too many rootop bars in Melbourne, and this airy space is arguably the best. Drinks served with far-reaching city views include the signature Rooftop at QT G&T (it’s all about the elderflower). In fact, from here, it’s all a little Sydney. Though that’s far from a bad thing – at least it’s not quirky.