Little retreats: QT Auckland

4 March 2021

This design hotel chain from across the ditch has been making inroads in New Zealand since 2015 when it purchased the quirky, art-filled, Museum Hotel in Wellington and refurbished it with visual cues that range from the circus-like through to French cabaret.

Although this Auckland iteration is slightly more subdued than its flamboyant, Wellington cousin, it is significantly more colourful than its Queenstown counterpart and entirely more light-filled than the moody and theatrical Sydney locale. 

Wellington-based artist Max Patté’s Venus Rising is surrounded by Faye Toogood’s Roly Poly chairs and plenty of vibrant colour.

According to its chief designer, Nic Graham, “The QT DNA is design driven. The furniture is often a mix of custom-designed and quality purchased items from local and international sources. The brand is balanced with great art and found objects, thoughtfully curated with a vintage wink.”

Highlights from the art collection here include American video artist Jennifer Steinkamp’s large-scale LED screen, Max Patté’s Venus Rising — from his circular light series — and Louise McRae’s highly architectural Crassotrea/Kotuku.

Interior wise, the QT seeks to “embrace strong use of colour and pattern,” according to Nic. “We try to avoid seasonal fads or fashion, but create unique identity for each property using the locale as a driving tool to build the design narrative.”

Colours and shapes have been inspired by oysters and other marine life.

For this property that narrative was loosely pegged to Auckland’s fishing culture and many of its visual cues come from shellfish and oysters in particular. Carpets and flooring have graphic elements allusive of the shells of these types of molluscs. Colouration of various in-room touch-points, such as pillows, varies from iridescent and translucent — imitating the inner shell — through to the grey tones of its outer layer which, coincidentally, seem also to reference the grey rows of corporate office buildings just outside the hotel’s perimeter.

Light pendants have been crafted from green hand-blown glass, a verdant hue that seems to emulate seaweed. Even the closets and some of the headboards allude to the underwater as they are made from metal grids that could pass for lobster cages. 

Even if you are not spending the night here, the QT’s public spaces are well worth the visit. Its restaurant, Esther, is an open kitchen with a strong residential vibe and many textures and colours that reference the Mediterranean or Spain’s Andalucía. The rooftop bars offer ocean views and the promise of a well-hydrated and musically inclined lazy summer.

Words Federico Monsalve
Images Sam Hartnett

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