Lift­ing the cur­tain on the in­te­ri­ors of luxe new ho­tel QT Queen­stown

In­te­rior de­signer Nic Gra­ham, of Syd­ney’s Nic Gra­ham & As­so­ciates, is the creative be­hind the fit-out of Aus­tralia’s seven QT ho­tels. Here he shares in­sights into the luxe new QT Queen­stown.

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Nic, you and your team de­signed the in­te­ri­ors of all the QT ho­tels, with the ex­cep­tion of QT Mu­seum Welling­ton. How do you want peo­ple to feel when they walk into QT Queen­stown? With all of the QTs, we want guests to feel a sense of in­trigue and a sense of place. Queen­stown is a year-round tourist town but has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a win­ter des­ti­na­tion, so my team and I took as­pects of a win­ter chalet and an all-ter­rain sports club and com­ple­mented them with be­spoke fur­ni­ture and a bright colour pal­ette to create a home away from home that can be en­joyed all year round.

A nar­ra­tive that emerged in our early sto­ry­boards was ‘free­dom’ – the free­dom to be sporty, to be part of na­ture, or to re­main in­doors in the com­fort of your QT suite yet still take in the grandeur of The Re­mark­ables and Lake Wakatipu. Dur­ing the day, the enor­mity of the views in the pub­lic spa­ces is un­able to be ig­nored, and the in­te­rior lay­out high­lights these views. In the evening, the loss of view is com­pen­sated for by the bold use of colour, seen in el­e­ments such as the fur­ni­ture and car­pet, and soft light­ing that cre­ates warmth.

We aim for our blend of in­ter­est­ing ob­jects and para­pher­na­lia to in­vite guests to be cu­ri­ous and ex­plore. As with the other QTs, which are known for their eclec­tic, quirky look, this ho­tel is a mix of vin­tage and mod­ern, with a strong use of colour and graph­ics, as in the large-scale, cus­tom-de­signed mu­ral in the lobby by Fabio On­garato De­sign, which de­picts a se­ries of moun­tain­scapes formed from hu­man bod­ies – an amal­ga­ma­tion of hips and breasts, with skiers su­per­im­posed. There’s al­ways a lit­tle bit of sass and sex­i­ness in­volved; QT isn’t a place in which you’d want to be up­tight!

What shades did you in­clude in your colour pal­ette? When I first ar­rived in Queen­stown, it was to white moun­tains, hill­sides cov­ered in yel­low flow­ers and a bright blue lake. In­spired by the strong blue of the wa­ter, the dusky blue of the hills when the sun sets, and the grandeur of the view, the colour pal­ette fea­tures laven­der, soft blues and char­coal grey, bal­anced by bold fur­nish­ings

and bright pops of colour, in­clud­ing yel­low. Cop­per is also used through­out the ho­tel as a high­light metal – a QT first.

So, tell us about the ho­tel’s pub­lic spa­ces. The lobby breaks the mould of other QTs, which all fea­ture gen­er­ously sized lounges, cof­fee shops and bars; QT Mu­seum Welling­ton even has an art gallery. Here, it’s more un­der­stated to al­low guests to fo­cus on the amaz­ing views. How­ever, the sus­pended fire­place in the lobby is the per­fect ex­am­ple of the har­mony be­tween vin­tage and con­tem­po­rary that’s preva­lent in all QT ho­tels and re­sorts. The sculp­tural, ca­st­iron de­sign dom­i­nates the space, adding a mid-cen­tury ap­peal.

The lobby and re­cep­tion ar­eas both fea­ture tim­ber-lined ceil­ings, tim­ber floor­ing and split-rock walls that bring an earthy el­e­ment and Queen­stown’s rep­u­ta­tion as an ad­ven­ture play­ground in­doors. The chevron-pat­tern tim­ber floor­ing con­tin­ues through to the food and bev­er­age spa­ces, guest cor­ri­dors and guest rooms to create a more res­i­den­tial feel. We cus­tom-de­signed the car­pet that runs



along the guest cor­ri­dor to be bold and graphic, a com­bi­na­tion of flora and fauna with digi­tised snowflake, leaf, flower and moun­tain shapes. Along­side it is an ex­ag­ger­ated painted dado that mim­ics the moun­tain­ous hori­zon.

We de­cided to bal­ance the cap­ti­vat­ing views in the food and bev­er­age spa­ces with play­ful, con­tem­po­rary dé­cor, to en­cour­age guests to feel as if they can let their hair down. Reds bar is filled with cus­tom-de­signed, vin­tage-in­spired fur­ni­ture and sits some­where be­tween a nice ski chalet and a con­tem­po­rary lounge. Mean­while, with her­ring­bone-pat­terned floor­ing, leather straps and sig­nage in the shape of a gon­dola, the restau­rant, Bazaar, is an ode to vin­tage sports gear and the new age of bold skate and ski­wear. The con­cept of QT’s Bazaar restau­rants is that they’re ‘in­ter­ac­tive mar­ket­places’, so the restau­rant flows off the kitchen and al­lows for key dis­plays and spa­ces where the chefs and guests can en­gage with each other. The cen­tral cook­top al­ways takes prece­dence; we bring the cus­tomers into the kitchen, invit­ing a con­nec­tion.

And what can trav­ellers ex­pect from the guest rooms? Be­cause this was a new build, by lo­cal ar­chi­tects War­ren and Ma­honey, we wanted to keep the guest rooms con­tem­po­rary and fresh. The at­ten­tion to de­tail of bou­tique ho­tel de­sign comes through here, in the knick-knacks, cush­ions and art­work. The guest rooms are more un­der­stated than the pub­lic spa­ces, but still have el­e­ments of that sig­na­ture QT quirk. Thanks to our range of be­spoke fur­ni­ture, there’s never just a bed and an off-the-shelf chair in a QT ho­tel room. With lux­u­ri­ously large bath­rooms with dou­ble basins, so­fas that trans­form into dou­ble beds and those big views, QT Queen­stown is de­signed to feel like home, but not as most of us know it!

ABOVE LEFT Vin­tage meets mod­ern through­out the ho­tel, cre­at­ing a so­phis­ti­cated yet homely aes­thetic ex­em­pli­fied by the blend of be­spoke fur­ni­ture in Reds bar. The fire­place by Aurora Sus­pended Fires seen here mir­rors the one in the lobby. ABOVE RIGHT Bazaar restau­rant’s el­e­gant an­gled win­dows give din­ers an un­in­ter­rupted out­look across the lake to the moun­tains be­yond. The lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents used in the open kitchen in­clude pro­duce grown in the ho­tel’s rooftop gar­den.

ABOVE In har­mony with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment out­side, the rel­a­tively sub­dued colour scheme of the ho­tel’s 69 guest rooms helps to create a rest­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. Among the spe­cial touches in these spa­ces are QT’s sig­na­ture gel beds, merino socks and so­phis­ti­cated mini-bar set-ups that in­clude con­fec­tionery made just down the road at the Re­mark­able Sweet Shop.

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