A vintage Holden car in the driveway, longboard strapped to its roof, is a nod to the surf-Mecca setting at QT Gold Coast hotel, which promises fun in the sun. This hedonistic high-rise aims to please, with dreamy dining, a cool pool, stylish spa and sea-view rooms. Design (care of architect Nic Graham and Melbourne's Spacecraft) is as vibrant and friendly as the staff; food at globe-spanning Bazaar restaurant is equally creative.
Get this when you book through us:
Use of the hammam at SpaQ, plus free late check-out until noon
11am for most, noon for Smith members; check-in, 3pm, both flexible subject to availability. Late check-outs cost AU$15 for each hour after noon until 4pm.
Double rooms from £131.33 (AU$247), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast (AU$39.50) and a 1.08 per cent credit card surcharge.
At the hotel
Spa, concierge, retro-style bikes for hire, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, radio, iPod dock, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, WiFi, Kevin Murphy bath products, DIY lemonade kits.
Our favourite rooms
Everything from the ceramic cockatoo side lamps to the replica Eames chairs and DIY lemonade kits make the rooms here kooky and cool, although some bathrooms and balconies are on the bijou side. We love the QT King Ocean View boudoirs for their sexy sea vistas, ideal for scoping surfers and beach action; lower-tier rooms offer river, mountain and hinterland views. For more space, bag a sea-view QT King Suite, which boasts a huge bathroom with Japanese soaking tub, a luxe separate lounge and bar.
Surrounded by tropical foliage, lounge chairs, sunloungers and handy side tables for your mojito, the QT pool is a tempting oasis. It's not huge, but it's a decent size, and should satisfy all your posing requirements.
SpaQ is your go-to spot for pampering treatments, and includes a wet zone with a unisex hammam and ice-fountain for steamy times (and cooling down afterwards!). Waxing, brow and lash grooming will ensure you look your best.
Tropical-print bikinis and surf shorts for hitting the pool or beach; your surfboard if you're serious about working those waves. Come evening, trade Havaianas for high heels for wining and dining.
Very welcome; baby cots can be supplied for free, and extra beds for older kids up to age 12 are AU$55 a child a night.
QT Gold Coast is a family-friendly getaway, ideal for beach-hopping.
All ages, but tweens over 12 and teens will best suit this fun-filled hotel.
King Suites are a spacious option for fitting in an extra bed for kids; you can also request Twin or interconnecting rooms.
The pool and nearby beach should keep the kids occupied, but the hotel also provides PG or 12-rated DVDs for rainy days, as well as arts and crafts materials. You can hire bikes and helmets at the QT, and staff can advise you on local bike tours, jet-boat rides, canal cruises, go-karting and day tours. Children will love Sea World, an aquatic theme park nearby on the Spit, with boasts seal shows, sea lions and penguins, as well as themed attractions. Inland, Tamborine National Park offers hiking and a butterfly farm. Older kids may fancy trying their luck at surf classes, although the waves at Surfers Paradise might prove challenging.
Kids are welcome in the main pool, although there are no lifeguards on duty, so you'll need to keep an eye on them.
Kids will enjoy Bazaar's quirky, informal marketplace, where they can help themselves to whatever they fancy. There's no specific children's menu, but the Willy Wonka-style ice-cream station is sure to please Perhaps steer the smalls past the whole pig on a spit! Children can also kick back at vibrant lobby café Fixx or order snacks from the Pool Bar.
Available with two days' notice, price on application.
No need to pack
Baby cots, baby bedlinen, high chairs, booster seats, crayons, paints and paper, bikes and helmets, outdoor toys.
Free baby cots are available for infants up to age three; extra beds for kids up to 12 can be added to rooms for AU$55 a child a night. Minors must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
QT Gold Coast uses local, seasonal and free-range food in its restaurants, and is committed to recycling. It also offers eco-friendly tours in the area, from bicycling to horse-riding and hiking in nature reserves.
Windowside at Bazaar for couples; the large communal tables for groups.
Just follow the hotel's style mantra: 'nostalgic surfer chic meets Miami catwalk cool'. No bare feet at Bazaar, or singlet or sleeveless tops for guys. Dress to impress at Stingray, which bans ripped jeans or visible tattoos.
With three restaurants to flirt with, you'll be spoiled for choice. For breakfast and dinner make for Bazaar restaurant, which was conceived as an 'interactive market place', a 21st-century twist on trad street stalls. Locals are already flocking to this buzzy contemporary buffet eaterie, where floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow you ogle a cool room of cheese, charcuterie and premium meats (now that's our kind of meat market!). Stir-fry wok stations, wood-fired pizza ovens, glistening seafood stands, pots of slow-cooked stews and stations of innovative organic salads encourage you to travel the culinary globe, using 'your plate as your passport'. Just serve yourself, with chefs on hand to cook dishes to order and waiters circling to deliver them. Mellow Fixx café in the lobby serves an organic menu of lighter bites, great coffee and cakes, backdropped by a gorgeous feature wall. Think paninis, wraps and house-made macaroons. Japanese restaurant Yamagen dishes out innovated izakaya fare, including kushiyaki, market fresh sushi and sashimi and cutting-edge cocktails.
Stingray bar is a glam gathering point for the cocktail crowd, with a snacking menu of Southern American-style street food from noon, running the gamut from soft-shell tacos to sliders (mini burgers). There's over 50 in-house tequilas for toasting those ocean views, and resident DJs keep the tunes coming from Thursday to Saturday nights. Interiors channel industrial chic with a splash of Pop art. Thirsty poolside? The seasonal Pool Bar is at your service, open seasonally from 11am until 3pm, and you can also quaff drinks at the Lawn, a sunken indoor lobby bar decked out in vibrant 'Acapulco' chairs and faux-grass flooring with pool views.
Bazaar serves breakfast from 6.30am to 10.30am, and dinner from 5.30pm to 10pm; Fixx dishes up café fare from 7.30am to 3.30pm; Yamagen is open from 5.30pm to 9.30pm (closed Sundays and Mondays). Stingray bar pours drinks from 4pm to midnight.
A full menu of room service treats can be ordered from 6.30am to midnight, with reduced offerings from midnight to 6.30am. Burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and salads are up for grabs, as well as child-friendly options, while minibars are tempting, too.
QT Gold Coast is at 7 Staghorn Avenue, a hop from Surfers Paradise beach, just north of Gold Coast city.
Fly into Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta; from there it's a 42-kilometre, or 35-minute drive north to the QT.
Nerang train station is 15 kilometres, or a 20-minute drive, away, handy for rail connections from Brisbane. If you've flown in to Brisbane, the Air Train (www.airtrain.com.au) from the airport stops at Nerang and three other Gold Coast stations. Alternatively, take the local Queensland Rail line to Nerang (www.translink.com.au).
If you're driving, QT offers on-site parking for AU$20 a day. Surfers Paradise is just a two-minute drive away.
Worth getting out of bed for
Although you could while away the day in bed or at QSpa (worth at least half a day’s whiling), the outdoorsy offerings of the Gold Coast shouldn’t be missed. This is prime surfing territory, so pull on your rashie, summon your balance and head to surf school with Surfing-Australia-accredited Go Ride a Wave (+61 (03) 5215 61880). Not quite ready to hang ten? Try kayak or stand up paddle board (SUP) lessons or hire instead, or take a kayaking tour (0412 940 135) to explore the coast. And you may not be the only mammals in the water - the “Humpback Highway” is just a few nautical miles off the shores of the Gold Coast. If you’re visiting during migration season (late May - early November), join a Whales in Paradise (+61 7 5538 2111) whale-watching tour.
Prefer to stay dry? A flying trapeze class (+61 (02) 6685 6566) is sure to get your adrenaline going, and (serious acrophobes look away) Skypoint Climb (+61 7 5680 7700) takes you even higher: up to 270m, to be exact. But fear not, you’ll be well-harnessed for Australia’s highest external building climb and rewarded with unrivaled views of the Gold Coast. For back-to-nature days out, head to Burleigh Head National Park, a wild, natural headland. Walk along the rocky foreshore or through rainforest; you’ll have the chance to spot sea-eagles along the coast and could catch a glimpse of whales just off shore.
Fresh oysters aren’t the only thing on the menu at seafood restaurant Shuck (+61 (07) 5528 4286) on bustling Tedder Avenue. We dare you to leave without trying the crab lasagna. The husband and wife team behind Can Tho Kitchen and Bar (+61 (07) 5529 0098) was inspired by traditional family meals; they want to keep the jovial sharing atmosphere going, and a full menu of Vietnamese sharing plates (and cocktail options aplenty) reflects that philosophy. Sharing plates and grown-up drinks are also on offer at beachside Elston Bar (+61 (07) 55 27 66 78). Go for the local wines and tasty tapas plates.
Start your morning in paradise with a five minute walk to Bumbles Cafe (+61 (07) 5538 6668) in Budds Beach; it’s a favourite with locals for morning coffee and it also serves a mean breakfast to fuel you up for a day of surfing. Paddock Bakery (20 Hibiscus Haven, Miami 4220) is also a good choice for breakfast. Paddock bakes artisan, wood-fired sourdough bread in the morning and continues the day by churning out fresh batches of muffins, doughnuts, cakes, artisan pastries and sausage rolls to constantly refill the cabinets. Go for the acai bowls; stay for the doughnuts.
The QT logo looms over the quieter end of Surfers Paradise as we exit the more densely built up quarter of Party Town and head towards Main Beach. Pulling up at the hotel, there’s plenty to make Mrs Smith and I happy; the retro panel van parked out front, pastel fixed-gear bikes, beautiful hardwood floors, digital art installations in the lobby and gleaming white Gold Coast smiles to welcome us. The fit-out feels like entering a funked-up beach house or a Palm Springs country club – an impressive achievement for the clever QT team given the building’s fairly nondescript shell.
Our swanky QT King Suite boasts incredible Surfers Paradise beach views framed by floaty, pale curtains. White rules the roost, from the walls to the enormous bed, dozens of soft towels and kitchen area (there’s a lot of white!), contrasted with fabulous bright colour swatches, screen-printed lampshades and the distinctive QT black-and-white striped bathroom. Not being super-slick at articulating design critiques, I label the look ‘fresh’. Mrs Smith is unimpressed by my interiors punditry, so I move on, admiring the ‘boxing-style’ bathrobe.
Sniffing out an early shopping opportunity like the pro that she is, Mrs Smith instinctively notices the price list for the in-room accessories in the nano-second I spend innocently perusing the nicely stocked minibar. There isn’t much that she doesn't want to take home (her Sauron-like eye fixing especially on the cockatoo bedside light), which has me worried when she also speedily locates the QTique gift shop.
‘That'll be $30,’ the concierge quips with a wink as I collect swimming towels from his hub in the heart of the lobby – a sense of fun that matches his uniform of Hawaiian-print Bermuda shorts paired with a pinstripe blazer and canvas shoes. His desk is surrounded by iPads loaded with up-to-the-minute QT Gold Coast apps to make all manner of things happen (first up for us is table reservations at Bazaar, the main hotel eatery). We definitely put the cheeky chap and his jumpsuited female colleague to work; car hire, directions, travel advice, activities and restaurant bookings all too easy for the ever-efficient QT concierge team. They get everything spot-on.
Speaking of Bazaar, it's a real gem. Doubling up to provide the QT's super-charged breakfast and dinner buffets, it's a sleek room with attentive and genuine service and a variety of inventive food stations. ‘Buffet’ seems like the wrong description when the standard and selection of food is this great. At breakfast think fresh and healthy 'daily juices', eggs galore, freshly made pancakes and mueslis, and that’s only the half of it. Dinner caters to in-the-know (and fairly glammed-up) locals as well as in-house guests and features quality, well-cooked produce with a twist of fun. The drinks list is good, and Mrs Smith benefits from a number of wines being offered by the carafe, glass or bottle, meaning I don’t have to railroad her into red when she really wants white.
Checking out the signature facials at SpaQ the next morning, Mrs Smith is in heaven. On the mezzanine level, the spa smells amazing and delivers pampering treatments with top products and professional staff. Mrs S also gives herself plenty of time to make use of the hammam (free to SpaQ customers), and returns to the room in a very relaxed state of mind – ready for a lazy lunch and a glass or two of rosé at the hotel’s Stingray bar.
Small but perfectly formed, the QT pool stars a swim-up bar that’s open in the warmer seasons and a shallow splash pool for the kids. Even in mid-winter, it isn’t too cool to keep me out. The hotel is only a block or so away from the slightly more chilled northern part of Surfers Paradise beach. Despite the highest tide of the year, the beach is in truly pristine condition, and the boardwalk makes for a fantastic stroll (or power-walk if that takes your fancy) into the town centre. If we were staying longer, we would take those ‘fixies’ out for a cruise.
Hire-car delivered, we cruise through Surfers Paradise in glorious sunshine with the windows down and Bruno Mars full volume on the stereo. After a local drive-about and a couple of laps (I’m blaming the new road layout) of the kilometres of white sand and tempting barrels, we head back to the QT to get ready for our departure. Parking the Corolla next to their pimped panel van, Mrs Smith reflects on our short stay: lots of fun in a stylish hotel that doesn’t take itself too seriously.