QT takes its brand of design-led sass to the capital of chic.


133 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 8636 8800 or


Story: Christopher Holder

It’s a homegrown success story. Saying that, QT Hotels (a division of Rydges) doesn’t shout its domestic credentials from the reception desk. QT is funky, sassy, savvy and could just as easily be a native of Brooklyn or Berlin.

Starting life on the Gold Coast, QT really broadcast its manifesto when it moved into the old Gowings department store building in Sydney. It was the perfect digs for a boutique hotel: quirky, oozing personality, and right in amongst the downtown bustle but blocks from Sydney CBD sterility.

QT Melbourne had big shoes to fill. Harsh critics of Sydney would suggest a washed up bottle of Reschs on Bondi Beach is seen as Sin City ‘design’, while Melbourne is quick to distinguish art from artifice — in Melbourne, the emperor is most definitely wondering around in his birthday suit.

Nic Graham is QT’s unofficial ‘Designer in Chief’. He’s been the interior architect on the Gold Coast and Sydney properties, and was called up for QT Melbourne. Shelley Indyk took care of the room designs while Nic and his team was responsible for all the other common areas, such as the lobby, the restaurant and bar, the rooftop bar, the laneway noodle bar Hot Sauce, and the knife shop (more on that later).

“We didn’t want it to look like an Armani suit,” reflected Nic Graham. “If it was an Armani suit it’d be with a graffiti t-shirt and a pair of Nike runners.”

Okay, as design statements go, that’s intriguing if a little abstruse. What’s an Armani suit hotel then?

“For me,” he continued, “the ‘Armani suit’ is an attractive hotel that obviously has been built with a good budget, and has been filled with items from Space Furniture. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s not what we wanted to do. We have used some expensive finishes but we’ve also done things quite raw and pared back.”


Speaking of furniture, Nic estimates that 90% of what you see pictured here was custom designed by him and his team. Nic Graham again:

“Was it fun? It was the best part! It was also quite taxing. We would design then prototype the item… or when we ran out of time, not prototype and play a game of roulette to see what showed up on site!

“I developed a number of pieces I had manufactured by Stella Works, which is represented by Living Edge in Australia. They started the QT Collection with the first chair designs we did in Sydney, so it was a nice opportunity to expand the range. We had some fun with other signature pieces. The restaurant chairs, for example, are a bit more ‘1930s gentlemen’s club’ and we definitely like to share a nod and a wink with the vintage mid-century look: studs and brass and combination brass and timber legs etc.”


The $80m build was done by Built. and based on a from-the-ground-up 12-level structure. (It occupies the site of the old Greater Union Cinemas, for those familiar with that part of Melbourne.) Two levels are dedicated to private apartments. Alongside a ground level cafe and spa, the building incorporates a restaurant, two bars and a number of meeting rooms. Perched on top is a rooftop bar that has been doing amazing business in the summer months.

Having the restaurant and bar on the first level proved a challenge,” noted Nic Graham. “You have to provide guests with a transition from the ground floor, which is why we have the broad staircase. The level itself was difficult because it’s so broad and open. I prefer more enclosed spaces. On a good night it works beautifully but on the inevitable quiet night it feels a little abandoned. It’s very different to the Gowings building where we inherited the enclosed spaces — there was a more gradual and deliberate reveal from the front door to the back.”


Nic Graham & Associates: (02) 8305 3288 or


QT Hotels takes its music very seriously with its playlists reflecting the spirit and style of the brand. QT wanted to take the audio performance of its F&B spaces up a notch and called on its long-time AV collaborator, Kayder, to look into how it might make that step forward in performance. 

Kayder director, David Edgar, in turn, phoned Technical Audio Group’s Technical Director Anthony Russo to discuss how it might use Martin Audio’s CCD range of high performance install speakers in the rooftop bar and QSC’s in-ceiling speakers and networked amplifiers.

“This is a flagship property for QT and it wanted the public spaces to have the best possible audio. The Rooftop Bar really pumps on the weekend and we needed a loudspeaker system that could respond, but also sound great at low volumes during more relaxed periods. The coaxial CCD range from Martin Audio is a superior-sounding loudspeaker. The frequency response is incredibly even, and the eight-inch models in the Rooftop Bar can handle anything the DJs throw at them.”

Kayder: (02) 9523 7516 or

Technical Audio Group (QSC, Martin Audio):
(02) 9519 0900 or