Canberra Cool At The QT

31 March 2015

Last year, a chapter in Canberra's political history came to an end. In its heyday, the Lakehouse Hotel was the hottest place to stay and play; a place where political parties debated and celebrated and leaders were made (and ousted).

QT Hotels took over the site, injecting 1 London Circuit with its unmistakable quirk, playfulness and whimsy, paying homage to its iconic predecessor in the capital's emerging cultural (read: hip) precinct, New Acton.

Where luxury chic and politics meet in the nation's capital, QT Canberra has all the hallmarks of the boutique hotel brand, but with its own 'Capital Territorean' personality.

 Pose with Tony and the gang in the lobby

The lobby is undeniably cool – a veritable blend of moody decor, avant-garde design and tongue-in-cheek political nods. Live Twitter feeds scroll by reception, Australian heads of state grin from ear to ear and neon pop-art portraits of political heavyweights from Kim Jong-un to K-Rudd and Fidel Castro to Julia Gillard line the walls.

The theme continues upstairs in the 205 guest rooms that range from the QT Twin to the QT State Suite. Like the lobby, nothing here is by any means generic.

Instead of the usual 'do not disturb' sign, it's a yes/no referendum card; instead of nondescript furnishings, it's a monochrome and yellow palette accented by burnished silver decor and a red wire wall sculpture.

 There's nothing basic about the QT Canberra rooms

The bed is springy and soft, in-room entertainment spans the latest release movies to cable TV (uh, hello Food Network) and views from my balcony extend over Lake Burley Griffin to Parliament House.

A cocktail station with all the accoutrements for an Old Fashioned and a working desk space peppered with postcards featuring infamous Prime Minister quotes add to the in-room charm.

 Cheeky winks to past pollies

The mini-bar will also put a smile on anyone's dial with its top-shelf liquors, Nespresso coffee machine, T2 teas and everything from an emergency bowtie to a spy kit.

Yes, spy kit. You know, for all those times you've gone on holidays and forgotten to pack your rear-vision specs and UV torch. But seriously – and you didn't hear it from me – actual spies have stayed here.

 Channel your inner Don Draper with an in-room Old Fashioned

Check out Canberra's sultry cousin, QT Sydney

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It's too late to catch the Canberra Balloon Spectacular in 2015 but here's some inspiration for next year


With an extensive room service menu, you may find yourself having a hard time leaving your abode, but the epicurean experience at steakhouse-slash-Italian eatery, Capitol Bar and Grill, hits all the right gastronomic notes.

From the great mind of QT's Creative Food Director, Robert Marchetti, wood-fired, dry-aged steaks aren't out of place next to freshly shucked St Helens oysters (best I've ever had), tuna tartare, fried chicken and pasta. And, as for dessert, I'm told the donuts with custard and jam filled syringes are worth coming back for.

 Capitol Bar & Grill: the place where culinary dreams are made

Adjacent to the restaurant is The Barbershop, a throwback to a bygone era where dapper gentlemen can step back in time for the 'short back and sides' or a cut-throat shave. The parlour also conceals the entrance to the sleek, sophisticated Prohibition-style Lucky's Speakeasy. Late-night libations never looked so good.

And if you're one of the lucky few movers and shakers, you'll also be able to access the exclusive 15th-floor QT Lounge complete with meeting rooms, cosy nooks and a central bar.

 Short back and sides please, good sir

Could it be? Is Canberra cool? Furthermore, is politics is cool? Judging by the fact that it's not uncommon to see the Obamas on late-night TV or our weekends commandeered by political dramas like Scandal and House of Cards, it certainly seems that way.

Politics is having its pop-culture renaissance and QT Canberra is leading the charge on home soil.

Vote 1: QT Canberra? The absolute majority says yes.

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QT Canberra Fast Facts

1 London Circuit, Canberra

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  • Rooms start from $155 per night
  • Wine and dine at Capitol Bar & Grill and Lucky's Speakeasy
  • Function spaces perfect for your next conference, event or wedding
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout
  • Just minutes from Canberra's city centre

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Visit your local Flight Centre or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Canberra.

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Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.