Justine Tyerman is incredulous as the general manager at QT Bondi describes the hotel's rather impressive facilities.

"Our hotel has 28 restaurants," Cian tells me with a straight face.

"And dozens of bars, boutiques, beauty spas, hair salons, yoga studios, gyms and pools."
I've just arrived at the QT Bondi in Sydney and I'm immediately impressed with the funky, modern lobby, the super-friendly team on the front desk and my spacious, light, airy 4th floor room

But I'm bemused at the grandiose claims from the tall Irishman who heads up the establishment.


There just did not seem to be enough room for all these amazing facilities in the compact four-storey hotel half a block from the golden sands of one of the world's most famous beaches.

"OK, so where are you hiding them all Cian?" I ask the affable fellow.

"Out there," he gestures expansively with a sweep of his arm. "On our doorstep in Bondi."
The penny drops and I begin to understand his line of reasoning.

"QT Bondi turns other hotels on their heads – we have 69 rooms, a lobby, reception, 12 staff, and that's it. Simple, streamlined, personal - a hotel without a whole lot of complicated working parts," says Cian beaming at me.

"The whole of Bondi is our playground – we're here to propel guests out the door to explore what Bondi has to offer," he says.

"The concept takes some guests by surprise but when they get their heads around it, they like the choices and variety. In fact, we often get compliments from guests about the fact we don't have a restaurant or bar. They say it encourages them to go out, be adventurous and experience a whole range of different places."

The colourful, funky lobby with its Shaun Gladwell art installation. Photo / Supplied
The colourful, funky lobby with its Shaun Gladwell art installation. Photo / Supplied

The décor, designed by Nic Graham who is responsible for the vibrant, quirky, arty interiors of a number of Australia's nine QT Hotels, is radically different and out-there too.

The lobby sets the tone for the whole establishment – giant screens playing surfing and beachy videos; bright, collage-covered walls; tropical plants; neon lights; a QTique which showcases local artworks and products; and reception staff bubbling with joie de vivre and ready to advise on any Bondi-related topic.

"We're not trying to be the Hyatt here, we're not a corporate hotel and we don't do calm and tranquil – we're a neon explosion, a stylish, up-market, boutique hotel where guests come for leisure and pleasure," says Cian.

The not-afraid-of-colour vibe flows throughout the hotel. My top floor QT Deluxe King room is a breath of fresh air after the muted, neutral décor of so many hotels I've experienced in my recent travels. It looks like someone has splashed paint around the place: yellow chairs, a green rocker, multi-coloured cushions, and a yellow, green, blue, orange spotted carpet. No boring beige, taupe or grey in sight.

With its roomy living space; well-equipped kitchenette and laundry; side-on view of the beach from the balcony; large, tiled bathroom; delicious rainforest showerhead; and luxurious Malin+Goetz toiletries, I could live here quite happily for a couple of weeks. The place is immaculate and the bed and pillows are super-comfy.

"New gel mattresses," Cian tells me proudly. "They're guaranteed to give you a good night's sleep."

All the rooms are generously-proportioned compared with most hotels. Even the standard rooms, an ample 40 sq metres, are equipped with kitchenette and laundry facilities.

"So what's the history of the place?" I ask Cian, vaguely remembering a grand old hotel on the site years ago.

"The five-star QT Bondi was born three years ago where the iconic Swiss Grand once stood. It's in a prime location, right in the heart of Bondi, a stone's throw from the beach."
Cian loves the intimacy and lively atmosphere of the hotel.

"Other QTs are much bigger and more serious, boasting conference centres, bars, restaurants, a large staff and many different departments. We are like a family here – a team of 12 runs the entire property, doing everything from checking you in at reception, taking your bags to your room, parking your vehicle, delivering room service and advising you on where to eat, drink, shop, surf, swim, do yoga or have a massage."

I can vouch for that. The delightful Gabbie, who checked us in, also delivered our bags, parked our car and appeared at the door with ice in shiny black plastic pouch when we phoned for room service. The faces become familiar, just like an extended family.

"Our staff are generalists, not specialists. I call them 'QT people' and they are expected to do everything on a daily basis. Most of the staff have been at QT Bondi for two years or more and they enjoy working here.

"An indication of this is that no one calls in sick unless they absolutely have to – we're such a tight-knit family, we don't want another staff member to have to fill in for us."

Cian is a hands-on GM, taking his turn at front desk and car-parking duties - he even does painting and maintenance jobs.

And the trendy, über-cool beachside suburb of Bondi, just 10km from Sydney CBD, is literally on the doorstep, offering everything in abundance, as I discover after downloading the hotel's handy app with every local attraction, product and service you can think of. I also glean valuable insider tips and local knowledge from the "QT people".

"That's another big plus here," says Cian.

"When a staff member recommends a place, it's his or her genuine opinion, not what they've been instructed to say."

In the days that follow, we make good use of the "cool, free stuff" available for guests to use – surfboards, bikes, yoga mats, access to the Speedo Fitness Centre gym and pool downstairs and a few of the 100 latest movies on the huge flat-screen TV in our room.
We slip into the "Bondi bubble" with ease - dining, wining, shopping, relaxing, swimming, surfing, beach-strolling, day-dreaming. We even see a couple of migratory whales heading south for the summer - a huge thrill.

The hotel is always handy so it's no effort to pop back for a change of clothes, a snooze or a snack. With the kitchenette and laundry, it's a convenient little home away from home. We could have stayed for weeks.

So how successful is the concept? I ask Cian as I check out a few days later, feeling rested and revitalised.

"The occupancy here is around 83 per cent so we're busy most of the year but in summer the whole place goes bananas.

"Our main target market is young couples who come here for a good time. And we make sure they do. It's definitely a successful formula," he says.

"People come to QT Bondi for the experience. It's pure leisure and pleasure here. We don't do boring."