australia

QT, SYDNEY

It's a Saturday night in the bustling hub of Sydney. Shows are playing, restaurants are fully booked and the harbour is glowing. Strolling through the city, gothic buildings lining the street, I found myself at the iconic State Theatre on Market Street where my hotel is supposed to be.

"QT?" a lady in a red wig asks. "Yes" I reply, assuming she was an actress from a nearby show. She wasn't. She escorted me through a narrow foyer to the elevators where a few floors up is the lobby of QT Sydney.

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Bursting with colour and velvet, I checked in quickly and started to get my QT vibe on. Sexy, quirky and over the top.

My room, an Executive King, overlooked George Street on the 9th floor, with large heritage windows. Polished floorboards, bright rugs and eclectic furniture draw on the past mixing it up with edgy design.

The mini bar was stocked with Patron, salami, nibbles and a beard kit; perfectly curated for the modern hipster. The room seemed to encourage the guest to pour themselves a drink, or two, with martini glasses dotted around the room.

No luxury is overlooked in the bathroom with fitted, velvety, hooded black robes. Slinking around feeling quite the Marilyn Monroe, I discover MALIN and GOETZ amenities in the cabinet. A big New York tick.

Gowings, the hotel restaurant, takes on a more sophisticated style with an ultra-hip ambiance. Serving up modern food, the breakfast shies away from the usual offerings and satisfied my weekend munchies. Watermelon salad with pomegranate and vanilla ricotta was balanced and refreshing, followed by Mexican eggs with avocado and beans. Served promptly, by staff who were a little too cool, it was a good spot to nut out the day's business.

Where the hotel really wins me over is at it's spa and grooming boutique. Stepping in to a luxe laboratory, the changing rooms are fitted out with vintage style lockers and mosaic tiles. I booked myself in for a Turkish Salt Scrub and was guided through historic hallways to my treatment room. Original stained glass ceilings and semi-exposed brick walls housed my therapy bed, which was one of the softest I've had. After a full body loofah, I was massaged with their "satin lotion". I don't know exactly what satin lotion is but I couldn't stop touching my glowing skin for the rest of the afternoon.

Despite it's central CBD location, the room was peacefully quiet. Waking up feeling hazy after my night on the town, the soft dim lighting was a relief on my heavy eyes. A long stretch and I dozed back to sleep. QT, you're not my forever home but you are what I needed right then and quite frankly your sass has me smitten.

CHECKING-OUT DEBRIEF
FEEL: Take the missus out and get lucky. Pack red lippy.
ROOM PICK: Corner suite for the views.
WIFI: Yes, complimentary.
RATES: Starting from $380 AUD. Breakfast packages available.
CHILDREN: Get a babysitter, its adult time.
MINI BAR: Spirits galore, cocktail kit, beard kit, salumi, nibbles. Treat yo'self. Coffee machine provided.
GETTING THERE: Valet parking is available, simply pull up the front, put your hazard's on and QT will sort out the rest.

I stayed as a guest of QT Sydney.
https://www.qtsydney.com.au/

 

MINERAL SPRINGS HOTEL, HEPBURN SPRINGS

Checking in at the Mineral Springs Hotel, you feel refreshed, even before hitting the spa. The lemon lampshades, high ceilings and windows bathe you in light as you waltz to the reception lounge.

Breakfast (included) is served at The Conservatory, with both cooked to order items and a buffet featuring fresh produce picked from their farm. It's not a rushed affair either. Hanging lamps and cane furniture give you an air of relaxation, despite the stately surroundings.

The multi-award winning spa is the draw card for the hotel. Start with their extensive organic tea selection, and relax in the lounge (there's an open fire in winter). The outdoor deck is the perfect spot to sip on your tea before heading in to the mineral water baths, overlooking the gardens of Villa Parma.

Twilight bathing on Friday and Saturday nights is a must. Soak yourself in steaming therapeutic waters as the sun goes down - one of their signature treatments.

The springs terrace room gives you an intimate space for a couples getaway. Relaxing on a king bed, you're facing your own terrace and a bay-window bathtub. A separate bathroom behind the bedroom, and a space for writing and lounging gives you a retreat for a chocolate and wine weekend.

The in-house restaurant, The Argus Dining Room, recently awarded a Chef's Hat by the Age for 2015, serves modern Australian cuisine referencing local produce from the region. So whether you're looking for a Victorian getaway, fine dining or relaxation therapy, Mineral Springs Hotel really is the best of what Spa Country has to offer.

CHECKING-OUT DEBRIEF
FEEL: Modern grandeur.
ROOM PICK: Springs Terrace Room.
WIFI: Yes, included in the rate.
CHECKING: 2PM check-in | 11AM check-out.
BREAKFAST: Included.
RATES: Terrace Room – From $415 per couple 1 night midweek / $1055 per couple 2 night weekend. Springs Deluxe Spa Room – From $340 per couple 1 night midweek / $950 per couple 2 night weekend
CHILDREN: OK - but not recommended (no additional bedding can be provided besides a cot). Minimum spa age is 16.
IN-ROOM: TV, bathtub (in some rooms), writing space, terrace (in some rooms).
MINI BAR: Yes, limited.

VILLA PARMA, HEPBURN SPRINGS

Unassumingly on the road through Hepburn Springs stands Villa Parma. Nestled in its lush gardens, next door to its Peppers Group owner, The Mineral Springs Hotel, the front door greets you like a portal to middle France.

Four bedrooms, all with their own bathrooms and tubs, the villa sleeps up to eight people and is rented out exclusively – perfect for a couples getaway or girls weekend.

Upon entry, the rustic dining room sits, awaiting your kitchen skills -mediterranean cuisine perhaps? The adjoining modern kitchen allows you to be inspired. Bread salad with local tomatoes, artichokes with fresh pasta and a bottle of wine from the nearby Pyrenees Wine Region will transport you to the European holiday you always dreamed of. Well, perhaps the one I dreamed of - where I get lost in the French countryside, stumble upon a villa for sale, irrationally purchase it (with my imaginary funds), and learn to speak a foreign language. Voila!

Breakfast is served in The Conservatory at the Mineral Springs Hotel next door keeping you in touch with service by the establishment that runs the villa. Direct access to their spa also gives you the best of what Hepburn Springs has to offer.

The landscaped gardens are expansive and you could easily lose yourself. Grape vines adorn the driveway leading to expertly manicured hedging and pathways. Each ending in a private little corner, you will find yourself sitting with a book for the afternoon.

With the Villa Parma as your background, the gardens give you the setting for a girly tea party or an intimate outdoor wedding. A regular use for the villa. So, grab your pals and book it for a weekend, because you’re on the doorstep to incredible wine and the infamous Daylesford spa territory.

CHECKING-OUT DEBRIEF
FEEL: Rustic French.
ROOM PICK: Top floor for the garden views.
WIFI: Yes, included in the rate.
CHECKING: 2PM check-in | 11AM check-out.
BREAKFAST: Provided in the adjoining hotel.
RATES: $2600 for full house 2 night stay (4 bedrooms – up to eight guests) including breakfast.
CHILDREN: OK - stairs in the villa.
IN-ROOM: TV, bathtub, full kitchen.
MINI BAR: None.
 

www.spacountry.com.au

THE PULLMAN, MELBOURNE

There's nothing like being in the city, but not feeling it at the same time. The Pullman in Albert Park is one of those spots where you can be on time to your meetings but sleep right through the night.

This hotel really is selling to businesses. And while I'm a fly in fly out kind of guest, I couldn't pick a better spot for the low fuss Melbourne visitor (avoid during Grand Prix). Trams on your doorstep will take you straight to the CBD, South Yarra and St Kilda, so you're not short of dining and boutiques. The Lake on one side, Botanic Gardens on the other, gives you two 3.5-5 kilometre running tracks (or walking in my case).

But what really brings me back to this spot for an overnight option is the rain shower. Newly renovated rooms give what would normally be a cookie cutter hotel some personality. The walk-in rain shower gives you that on-holiday feeling when the immense power of the water starts. There's something so spa and retreat about it.

In built charging connectivity for USB.

In built charging connectivity for USB.

Walk in rainshower. Unexpected luxury.

Walk in rainshower. Unexpected luxury.

Deep basins and Bigelow amenities provided.

Deep basins and Bigelow amenities provided.

King beds are split - to be expected.

King beds are split - to be expected.

The funky interior, with mirrored lamps and red accents can be a sign of design a bit lost, but they get a plus from me for Bigelow Apothecary amenities in the room and a useable work station. Stay here if you're on business, but don't overlook it for a no fuss vacation base either.

Rooms start at $135 via Wotif or Last Minute, depending on season.

http://www.pullmanalbertpark.com.au/