>  Destinations   >  New Zealand   >  QT Wellington review

QT Wellington is not your average hotel. On first impressions, it may seem like just another CBD building but once inside you begin tripping down Alice’s rabbit hole. This art hotel is a Wellington icon that has always pushed the limits in terms of design, hospitality and dining. Originally owned by local identity Chris Parkin and known as Museum Hotel, QT Wellington is one of the most engaging art hotels we have stayed in. One of its many charms is that the term ‘art’ is somewhat open to interpretation.

QT Wellington art
Is a motorbike a work of art?
QT Wellington art
Art is everywhere, even on the outside walls

The original owner had a passion for limited editions –of Italian racing bikes, that is – and you will find several among the other paintings and sculptures. While the concept of a motorbike as art may be debatable, there is no denying this hotel is a work of art. Located directly across the road from New Zealand’s premier museum, guests can view stunning works at Te Papa or wander the hotel to experience everything from surrealism to sculpture. Paintings with titles such as ‘The Attack of the 60ft Vermeer Inspired Women and Despondent Chicken’, surprise and delight from the moment you walk in.

Parkin had been a passionate art collector for years and the works formed part of the deal when QT Hotels & Resorts purchased the hotel. Some pieces are visually challenging or have a story to tell. For example, ‘Bucket Man’, a painting of local homeless identity Robert Jones, was purchased from the artist Duncan Smith who felt Jones forced society to look at itself. In an interesting twist it was discovered the itinerant was in fact a millionaire when he died. This well known local story adds interest to the work which has a haunting quality that sets it apart.

QT Welllington art
Art at QT Wellington
QT Welllington art
Ceramic artworks near reception
QT Welllington art
You will find this bull next to the ceramics
QT Welllington lobby
QT Wellington lobby

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QT Welllington room
Executive apartment bedroom
QT Welllington apartment
Executive suite dining area

We received an impressively friendly welcome, even at the ungodly hour of 2am when our (very) early morning flight from Australia arrived. Our two bedroom self-contained executive apartment was located right at the end of the hotel on level three which was the perfect size for our family of three. It is hard to beat the hotel’s location which is central to many of Wellington’s top attractions. After staying in an apartment at this hotel not long after the new self-contained wing opened, we were impressed to see everything was still in excellent condition more than five years later. Our modern apartment had two comfortable queen size beds along with amenities such as a big TV screen, fridge, minibar, tea making facilities and a Nespresso coffee machine. There was also a living and dining area and well-appointed kitchen with microwave, stove top and oven for self catering. Conveniently, there is a large Coles New World supermarket next to the hotel which comes in handy, even if you are staying in a regular hotel room in the original wing.

While there are plenty of reasons to stay at QT Wellington, there is one reason you shouldn’t. While our apartment was stunning, it was also on a low floor right near a busy intersection. If you are a light sleeper you don’t want to stay in the same room we did. However, don’t let that put you off. We had a blissfully quiet sleep when we stayed here previously; this time we were simply unlucky with our room allocation. Ask for an apartment closer to the middle of the hotel and you should love every minute of your stay at QT Wellington.

QT Welllington bar
Lobby Lounge at QT Museum Wellington

Dining is available in three locations within the hotel, the first being the Lobby Lounge which serves coffee, afternoon tea and substantial café fare for those who don’t want to dine at one of the two restaurants. There is also an impressive cocktail and wine list which makes this luxe lounge the perfect spot for a sophisticated pre-dinner drink. If you are after something a little more hip, head next door to the funky new bar and restaurant Hot Sauce which serves Asian fusion cuisine. However, the jewel in the crown of QT Museum Wellington is the multi-award winning restaurant Hippopotamus. Don’t miss this stellar fine diner, it is worth the splurge. If you don’t have time for dinner, get breakfast included in your room rate and enjoy the stylish ambiance in the morning.

QT Welllington Hippopotamus Bar
Hippopotamus Bar at QT Wellington
QT Welllington dining
Amuse bouche at Hippopotamus

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of QT Wellington and dined at Hippopotamus at her own expense.

While we were in Wellington we also stayed at the Grand Mercure Wellington, went on a Seal Safari, and spent the night at the nearby wine region of Martinborough.

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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.