Quirky, designer hotel QT has opened its first regional hotel in Newcastle and it’s worth the two-hour drive from Sydney.
The five-star hotel is the new star attraction for Newcastle and another notch on the city’s burgeoning travel and dining scene. The modern 104 guest rooms and suites hotel is housed in the iconic 113-year-old David Jones building. Blending old with new, the city’s coal mining and steelworks heritage is recognised via design elements nods in industrial finishes. The hotel’s colour palette is inspired by the elements (earth, water, moon and light), with rich reds, reflecting the coal and mining era, and artwork reminding viewers of the local coastline and Merryweather Beach.
The boutique hotel group is known for its eclectic mix of design. Working with long-time QT collaborator Nic Graham, the Newcastle hotel design narrative is centred around the moon and theme of regeneration and renewal. The moon is featured throughout the hotel through cosmetic artworks by Australian designers, most noticeable the large, illuminated moon viewed upon entering the lobby space.
Regular QT stayers will be pleased to know the cloud-like Dream Bed beds are present. However as comfortable as the beds are (and they are snug!), it’s the bathroom you’ll want to spend time in. The luxurious bathrooms are designed with sea foam green and aquamarine subway tiles, chosen to evoke the feeling of the quintessential Australian Summer. The spacious shower has a rain showerhead and the oversized bathtub beckons for an indulgent dip. Guests are also provided with a Dyson hairdryer, amenities from Kevin Murphy and cosy plush bathrobes.
As is QT style, little touches for guest considerations continue with the in-room mini-bar which comes with a cocktail shaker and pre-made cocktails (negroni, old fashion and coffee house – for espresso martini), along with other premium spirits. But as tempting as the in-room experience may be, you will want to check out QT’s signature restaurant Jana.
Hotel restaurants can be an unreliable dining choice when it comes to quality cuisine; the same cannot be said for Jana. Named after the Roman goddess of the moon, Jana is an exceptional dining experience. Led by Michelin star chef Massimo Speroni (from Brisbane’s multi-award-winning Bacchus and Café le Paillotes in Pescara, Italy), the food is incredible. With a focus on premium produce-led menu, sourced via local provenance, the modern Australian bar and grill offers top cuts steak and an extensive menu of seafood. Whilst the menu will change seasonally, Speroni promises: “we’ll always have a selection of rock and Pacific oyster, scampi roe and Italian caviar.”
Following our oyster indulgence, my companion and I elected for our mains and sides to be guided by our highly informed waitress Kat. One of the most popular dishes on the menu is the grass and olive fed Pukara Estate backstrap Lamb ($55) served with roasted parsnip, potato foam, grounded wattle seeds and black garlic jus. Delicious! The lamb was succulent and the wattle seed added a nutty flavour to the wintery dish.
We also had to try the grilled WA Octopus ($32) with saffron potato and jelly (the jelly is made with the water that the octopus release during the cooking). Highly recommend ordering this unique dish of tender octopus with a touch of earthy floral from the saffron.
In line with the designer hotel, each dish was artfully presented. Speroni’s Italian heritage influences the dishes, especially seen in the gnocchetti – a taste of the sea, house-made pasta with squid ink, cuttlefish, mussels in sweet crustacean bisque with dill ($52).
Each dish exceeded the other, so it’s difficult to pick a stand out but make sure you save room for dessert because you won’t want to miss out on Jana’s Torta ($22). Baked cake with amaretti that you rip apart and dip into a marsala zabaione.
Looking for a nightcap or late-night snack? Rooftop at QT will look after all your beverage needs whilst providing uninterrupted views across the harbour. The sky-high bar also has an izakaya-style menu and Newcastle’s largest selection of Japanese whisky.
A visual treat for the eye and delectable dining experience, Newcastle’s seaside QT Hotel is well worth the Sydney drive.