Instagram is a funny thing. Scroll through your feed at any given time and find post after post of envy-inducing holiday photos, each one more idyllic than the next.
Then us too, posting our own versions of paradise, waiting in anticipation for other like-minded envious followers to also validate our holiday pics with a ‘like’. This post-for-post cycle of holiday photos continues to fill our feed as we hunt for our next location for a break from our regular lives. It could be looking down from a clifftop on the Amalfi Coast, a cruise along the Mekong River, or, for those holidaying within the confines of our own country, a lakeside scene with the snow capped Remarkables standing tall in the background.
The picture-perfect hometown of the grand Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown, is ‘Insta-famous’ in New Zealand. It seems nearly weekly there is another post of a bikini-wearing back half submerged in the iconic Onsen hot pools as they look out over the winding Shotover River canyon. The surrounds of the town are so picturesque that is near impossible to not get a breathtaking photo featuring the snowy mountain range or Lake Wakatipu. Even the surrounds of the airport is heartstopping and is one of the few places I don’t mind forgoing the skybridge for a walk along the tarmac after exiting the plane.
While for many hotels in the Queenstown region the view and surrounds are their main pull, our recent stay at QT Queenstown offered us a visual pleasure both inside the hotel and out.
QT Hotels and Resorts are known for being out of the ordinary. With 10 boutique hotels across New Zealand and Australia, they are beginning to make a name for themselves for their art and design-focused aesthetic and their cheeky (quite literally) touches throughout the hotels; the artwork in the elevator of QT Queenstown, for example, features underwear-clad skiers and the curve of a woman’s derriere.
The staff are much more unpretentious than you would expect at any other upmarket hotel; a welcome that felt a lot more genuine was what greeted us into the lobby. The design of the hotel takes influence from its alpine surrounds, with designer Nic Graham mixing contemporary style with vintage touches. Bold colour and graphics contrasted with wooden floors and textured stone walls give the hotel an eclectic feel.
After being given our key and a run down of the facilities and amenities (complimentary wifi, always a bonus), we were directed to our room. Upon opening the door to our Lake King room, the view of Lake Wakitipu and the Southern Alps was immediately visible through the floor-to-ceiling window on the other side of the room. So apparent and in-your-face was their beauty that we spent a good fives minutes standing on our own private juliette balcony in awe, wondering what took us so long to visit.
Apres-ski chic design is apparent throughout the room; timber flooring with sheepskin and copper accents make the room feel luxurious yet homely. A side table next to the sofa featured the instructions and ingredients to make a Gin Martini, a fitting cocktail for a room of this grandeur. We felt as if we were melting into the mattress of the signature QT Gel Beds and were an absolute dream to sleep in. The bathroom was a generous size and featured a giant standalone tub, perfect for bathing in after a day of tasting Otago’s infamous Pinot Noirs. Artwork from various artists was displayed throughout the room, as well a huge Samsung TV, a Nespresso machine and a mini bar with a few quirky offerings.
Aside from the design of the hotel, QT Queenstown also shakes up the hotel scene in the town with their restaurant and bar. Reds Bar treated us to the best seat in the house to watch the sunset over the Southern Alps. With windows facing the infamous landmarks of Queenstown, it was hard to take your eyes off it. After taking a seat at the square bar – facing the window of course – we were distracted by the shelving above us. Claiming to be the biggest selection of spirits in the South Island, Reds Bar’s range was immense. Rows upon rows of bottles containing spirits from all over the globe were displayed on the shelving that ran across all four corners of the bar, sure to please even the most particular of connoisseurs.
After examining their extensive drinks menu and being tempted by their expert range of negroni offerings, we opted for a custom made creation from their well-versed bartenders. We were asked to fill out a card and mark where we sat on a scale of how tart we like our drinks, if we prefer a classic or something more unusual, whether we want a something with a bit of bite, or if we were looking for a thirst quenching drink or something more indulgent. The results were uncanningly spot on and I wonder if the bartender knew me better than I know myself. After finishing the custom-made cocktail (probably a little too quickly) and opting to try their perfectly bitter Barrel Aged Negroni, we decided to balance the booziness out with a bite to eat.
Upon entering Bazaar Interactive Marketplace for dinner, we were again greeted with the stunning lake and mountains views we were becoming so acquainted with in our room. With huge windows running along both sides of the restaurant, it was hard to find a seat that didn’t offer a sight of the grand mountain ranges and lake.
The name of the restaurant became obvious once we checked out the selection of food. A plethora of salads, stir fries, dumplings, seafood, roasts, among others, was available. But don’t dare call this a buffet. What made this different to other hotel restaurants was the encouragement to interact with the chefs, who were cooking away in the kitchen just behind where the food was being displayed. If we wanted carrot in our salad, the chef will whip up our own personalised one. If we wanted a medium rare steak, no problem. It seemed no request was too much and the chefs welcomed any customisations.
The breakfast was no different. With an offering of smoothies, fresh fruit, waffles and all the usual breakfast suspects, the option to have your meal customised was always on the table.
During our final breakfast at the QT, we made sure to try nearly everything out, not quite ready for the experience to end. Having our final look at out that breathtaking view, it wasn’t hard to see why the QT had made it the focal point of the hotel. The short but sweet stay had drawn to a close and while there were no classic photos of us by lake or at the hot pools, the view from the hotel was better than any Instagram post I’d seen in a while.
Though the luxury wasn’t over quite yet – we were driven back to the airport in the QT Range Rover – it seems our real lives won’t quite match the social media post it had come to feel like in the past few days.