Ben Taylor checks in at a cool New South Wales classic.
Getting there: From Sydney airport, it's a 30-minute taxi ride (ours cost A$64, NZ$68) to the hotel - pretty quick for rush hour. (Uber now allows pickups from Sydney Airport, so that's another option.)
Check-in experience: The entrance to the hotel is dominated by a collage wall mural from local artist Shaun Gladwell, depicting historical Bondi scenes scattered with bright trippy colours, like the jacket for a Hunter S. Thompson novel. QT's staff were all young, efficient, very attentive and dressed in a relaxed hotel uniform, no starched white shirts on this reception desk just metres from the beach. The beach aesthetic is present everywhere but with a chic style that does not wander into kitsch - like a cool cross between Havana and the Gold Coast.
Location: Pick up your beach towel from reception, turn left, walk outside, cross the road and you are on one of the world's most famous city beaches. Bondi Beach teems with activity, showcasing a culture all of its own with parts played by surfers, bikini babes, tourists, yoga gurus, tanned old-timers, fitness freaks and surf lifesavers.
The beach is a destination in its own right and many hours can be whiled away both observing and participating in all that goes on. Take a right at reception and you end up one block back from the beach in the heart of Bondi's cafes, shops and restaurants. Bondi itself is pretty close to downtown Sydney, so you can easily travel to the central city at any time, but we enjoyed ourselves so much we hardly left.
Room: The room was very generous and, being narrow and long, created a real sense of privacy, despite ending in a wall of glass. The Bondi-inspired design was clean, cool and consistent with a great deal of thought having gone into all the details. The room was really a mini apartment with large couch and living area, a very adequate kitchen and a laundry. Outside was a considerable balcony, complete with deck chairs, which had lovely afternoon sun. The luxury, design and generosity meant that we spent a lot longer at "home" than we usually do when away.
Price: A$229 a night for our QT King room, with larger rooms and suites ranging up to A$479 a night.
What's so good about this place? Beautiful design and fit-out that perfectly complements its location. It was a luxurious, relaxing place to stay.
And the bad? Hotel feels a little deserted due to its lack of amenities, other than the reception desk. Also had great difficulty getting a refund for an overcharged item - instead of refunding they charged me for it again! Being lost in the accounts department was the only sign of the place being owned by a large corporate hotel group.
Toiletries: The all-natural Malin & Goetz range from New York added to the feeling of luxury and smelled terrific.
Food and drink: None in the hotel itself, other than the minibar and the Woolworths supermarket downstairs, but they have cleverly partnered with local restaurants so you can eat in and have the bill charged back to your room - a great idea. Right after checking in we went to one, the Drake Eatery, only 100m from the hotel. The meal was a wonderful welcome to Bondi. Predominantly local ingredients were delivered in contrasting but well-balanced combinations and it all looked beautiful on the plate. I think one sign of an excellent restaurant is where you are surprised by the stars of a meal, here it was amazing charred brussels sprouts with haloumi, as well as a spiced grains and pomegranate salad - who would have thought? We were too full for dessert, but seeing them come out, we returned a couple of nights later so as not to miss out - well worth it.
The bed: Massive and very comfortable with thick high thread-count sheets (very important for restful night according to my other half).
A room with a view? Not of the beach unfortunately. We were up on the fourth floor and got a view across the tops of houses below and out to the hills that surround Bondi. The advantage of the lack of sea views was getting a superb sunset which went perfectly with our gin and tonics.
Bathroom: Absolutely beautiful design and fit-out in super-clean and crisp white and black. It was very stylish and chic. A large bath and very thick bathrobes gave a feeling of real indulgence.
Noise: Nothing from outside as the units face away from the madness of the beachfront and on to a back lane. Inside the only sounds were our tunes cranking from the hotel-supplied Bose bluetooth speaker or the hum of the hotel air conditioning.
Exercise facilities: None when we were visiting, other than taking the stairs, however I note they now have complimentary access to the new Golds Gym in the same building, complete with 25m pool and various classes. And there is always the beach...
Perfect for: a luxurious and relaxing long weekend in Sydney, where you can imbibe in the local sun, sand and beach culture then easily head into the big city if you feel like it.
QT Bondi Beach is at 6 Beach Road, Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia. Phone: 0061 2 8362 3900