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In the 1960s and ‘70s, Queensland’s Gold Coast was a sophisticated playground where everyone who was anyone came to kick up their heels. Gents wearing tight, fitted shirts and even tighter flares were keen to catch the eye of sexy girls dubbed “sizzlers”. Dancing the night away at a disco, dining at a classy restaurant, and sipping mosel at a wine bar were considered a must do. With its retro-inspired design details, colourful décor and upmarket dining options, QT Gold Coast at Surfers Paradise channels the luxe playfulness of the Gold Coast’s golden age while simultaneously remaining thoroughly modern.

QT Gold Coast is a short stroll away from the frenetic pace of Cavill Avenue but close enough to sample everything Surfers Paradise has to offer. However, my husband and I discovered there is much to be said for simply enjoying the hotel which is looking better than ever after a recent renovation. Apart from a romantic afternoon stroll on the beach, we spent our time relaxing in our refurbished room, soaking up the view, swimming in the pool and dining on some of the Gold Coast’s best Japanese cuisine at Yamagen on the ground floor of the hotel.

View from our suite at QT Gold Coast
View from our room at QT Gold Coast

QT Gold Coast has long been one of our favourite hotels on the GC and we love it even more now there’s a stylish poolside precinct. The original pool area missed out on a major renovation when Event Hotels & Resorts purchased the Gold Coast’s very first five star hotel and transformed it into QT Gold Coast. This space previously looked quite dated compared to the rest of the funky hotel. However, the new pool’s cool Miami vibe is spot on and adds yet another reason to stay here. The crisp black and white décor is complemented by tropical greenery and there are luxe cabanas that can be booked for lounging poolside in style. There’s also a new accommodation precinct, qtQT Gold Coast, with six cute wooden ‘beach houses’ that are comfy, cosy and perfect for sharing with someone special.

QT Gold Coast pool area
Pool at QT Gold Coat

After we checked into our room and relaxed for a while, we had a glass of wine, ordered lunch and enjoyed the swish surrounds which included a bar and lawn club area with additional seating. Our burgers were delicious and well-priced and we loved the ambience at this outdoor area. The staff were really friendly too, something we noticed again and again throughout our stay in all areas of the hotel. This is yet another thing that sets this hotel apart from many of the others on the coast.

Burger at QT Gold Coast
Poolside burger at QT Gold Coast

We loved the décor in our newly renovated room which was ‘modern beach shack meets pop art’ with bright Missoni inspired art inside the wardrobe, clean lines and wicker furniture topped with colourful cushions. The palette has been toned down slightly compared to the hotels’ original fitout but it still pops with playful bursts of colour. We especially loved our the semi-circular window seat in the bedroom for lounging and enjoying the view and the spacious lounge area. After a swim in the (heated) pool, a stroll along the beach and a shower to freshen up it was time to head downstairs to QT Gold Coast’s Japanese restaurant, Yamagen, which has been operating at the same location since 1987.

QT Gold Coast King Suite bedroom
QT Gold Coast King Suite bedroom
QT Gold Coast living room
Lounge room in our suite at QT Gold Coast

When Japan was one of the Gold Coast’s biggest tourist markets in the 1980s, it was rare to see locals dining at the city’s many Japanese restaurants. However, this slowly began to change as Australians developed a taste for Japan’s national cuisine. When tourist numbers started falling in the 1990s, many of the Gold Coast’s Japanese dining spots had already developed a loyal local clientele. Yamagen introduced the flavours, precision and artfulness of Japanese cooking to an increasingly sophisticated local audience who enthusiastically pulled up a seat at the tables which had previously held travellers from overseas. As we discovered when we dropped in for dinner, this celebrated restaurant is still going strong and specialises in Japanese cuisine with a twist like these spicy popcorn prawns which were so delicious we ordered them the following night as well!

Spicy popcorn prawns at Yamagen
Spicy popcorn prawns at Yamagen
Yamagen at QT Gold Coast
Yamagen at QT Gold Coast

The next morning we had breakfast at Bazaar which has one of the best buffet breakfasts we’ve had anywhere (and that’s including $1200+ per night 5 star hotels). With all of the pastries made in-house (it’s worth coming here for the almond croissants alone) and gourmet breakfast delights cooked to order with all the trimmings imaginable to add to your plate, from smashed avocado to mushrooms sauteed in a flavoursome cream sauce, the breakfast here is superb and well worth the extra spend as it carries you through until dinner. With its seemingly endless strip of sand and crystal clear, rolling waves, Surfers Paradise beach tempted us to venture downstairs and stroll on the sand but we couldn’t resist heading back to our room to soak up the view from our balcony.

Disclosure: The writers stayed and dined at their own expense and highly recommend this hotel.

Looking for some things to do on the Gold Coast? Some of our favourite Gold Coast activities include hot air ballooning, whale watching, jet boating, visiting Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or David Fleay Wildlife Park, indoor skydiving with iFly, bushwalking in the Gold Coast’s national parks, SkyPoint Climb, exploring the Gold Coast’s markets, checking out the local cafe scene, and enjoying the Gold Coast for free. There’s also plenty of fun to be had if you visit the Gold Coast in winter or have some wet weather.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.