QT Hotel Lands in Canberra

by The Editor


Certainly there was a lot of hype and speculation leading up to the official launch of QT Canberra. Could the old, modernist structure standing sentinel over Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin really receive a mega make-over in keeping with Australia’s most edgy hotel brand?

Walking into the old Rydges Lakeside, the verdict is clear. Gone is the dowdy and heavy corporate-feel of the old hotel. In its place is something much more fresh, much more naughty, much more… well, dangerous.

Why dangerous? Put simply, this is a hotel that takes on some sacred cows and runs a very fine line against why Canberrans are proud of their city, and what they know outsiders think of their ‘town’.

We’re talking about politics.


Dare we say The Canberran’s readers are highly engaged on the intricacies of their city? We know you love Canberra as the home of Federal politics; the House on the Hill supplies endless fodder for our curious minds to sit around and debate.

At QT, this material is the fabric from which much of the fitout is weaved. From those first moments passing of through reception into Capitol Bar and Grill’s restaurant space, the theme becomes evident. Politics is everywhere – through the tweets of political pundits auto-displayed as per a news scrawl, or the portraits of world leaders that line a wall as hypercolour icons. Here, the bravery of the fitout is most evident.


As a hotel catering to international visitors, would travelling Americans look so gleefully upon an image of Hillary Rodham Clinton (likely next President of the United States) with clown-like graffiti plastered over her visage? Her placement next to Kim Jong Un and Ayatollah Khomeini creates a fascinating contrast, but one that leans more towards a consideration of décor than deconstruction of the day’s political polemic.

Still, we come from a proud tradition of sacrificing sacred cows. Here, the strategy is unapologetic and refreshing. It’s completely in keeping with those egalitarian traits of which we are so proud.


Elsewhere, the political motifs are implied, and this has the wonderful result of sneaking up at you. One only has to gaze over at particular detail (while enjoying another rather spectacular ‘Millionaire’ cocktail) to barely notice the ‘Magic Eye’-style collage is in fact a collection of political imagery arranged into fine detail. It’s a subtle effect… and we loved it.

A barber’s store cuts between the dining area and Lucky’s… a smaller, more intimate space designed for the more premium boozer. Up here, an island bar sits in a dark room highlighted with inset cabinets of antique bric-a-brac. It comes across as the place to come alive later in the evening – on opening night it was the residence of the DJ.


Certainly, QT Canberra is another welcome addition to the Western end of the city, and helps link NewActon to the rest of the city. With a focus on ‘experiences’, QT certainly sets itself apart form the competition and, while intended to look after visitors to the Nation’s Capital, we think a lot of Canberrans will be very impressed with what they see.