Positioned on Wellington’s iconic waterfront, guests of the new QT Museum Wellington have the heart of New Zealand’s charming capital city at their fingertips. From my suite balcony I can see the harbour and the winding waterfront walk teeming with runners, tourists, and families. Quaint Wellington houses dot the roadside and the streets are buzzing with harbour side cafes, boutique shops and a few swimmers braving the sea winds for a late afternoon swim.
Walking distance to
Just across the road, in the position once occupied by the 300-tonne hotel (before it was moved 120 metres across the road on a makeshift railway in 1993), is Te Papa Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Maori treasures and the most visited museum in Oceania. It’s a fifteen-minute stroll to Cuba Street, a trendy district offering second hand bookshops, vintage stores and eateries, and even closer is the historic St James Theatre. For the night owls, Courtenay Place is just around the corner and has a high concentration of specialty cocktail bars like Vinyl Bar and CGR Merchant & Co along with a number of fine-dining restaurants.
Size and style
The 163- room hotel is rather unassuming from the outside, the brass hippopotamus perched on the roof the only indication of the quirks inside the walls. The property, previously owned by avid art collector Chris Parkin was relaunched by QT Hotels & Resorts at the start of 2017 and still houses his eclectic art collection. Along with the QT takeover has come a sleek interior outfit realised in a rich colour scheme, mood lighting and funky chandeliers. Amanda Love has curated Parkin’s collection of large oil paintings alongside a selection of eccentric sculptures by New Zealand artists such as Daniel Campion. The exhibition extends throughout the lobby and into a larger exhibition space which houses Pacific artist Michael Tuffery’s showpiece sculpture, O Le Povi Pusa Ma-ataua, a barbeque cow made of corned beef cans.
The suites and rooms are more in line with standard QT style which favours minimalist design, printed details and statement pendant lights and lamps.
QT Museum Wellington attracts locals and tourists of all demographics with the additional option for apartment-style accommodation also making it a popular choice for families. At night the hotel sees an influx of Wellingtonians headed for a special dinner at the award-winning Hippopotamus Restaurant and Bar on the third floor.
No, however the concierge will book you an Uber or taxi.
You need to know this
The high tea at Hippopotamus Restaurant was the winner of the Dilmah Global High Tea Challenge in 2015 and a stay at QT Museum Wellington isn’t complete without sampling it. My tip would be to splurge on the Luxury High Tea, a sweet assortment of petit fours and savoury options accompanied by a glass of Louis Roederer Champagne.
High Tea at Hippopotamus Bar and Restaurant
24 hour reception
24 hour room service
On-site dining and drinking facilities
Hippopotamus Bar and Restaurant:
This long-standing establishment serves up high-end French cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner in extravagantly theatrical surroundings. Taxidermy peacocks perch on antique side tables, the walls are adorned with gold framed mirrors and pieces from Parkin’s art collection, crystal chandeliers hang above the mirror-panelled bar and the seating options include mismatched sets of antique paisley armchairs.
If you’re after a pre-dinner cocktail, I recommend the Sage Elderflower Martini, which is a delicious mix of gin botanicals, elderflower liqueur, and fresh sage. For dinner the rich menu offerings are best for sharing. Don’t pass up the freshly shucked New Zealand Oysters or the hearty Le Roy, a prime cut of beef fillet with a side of Gratin Dauphinois.
The service at Hippopotamus is a throwback to traditional silver service. Theatre plays a big part in the presentation and some of the highlights were a smoking lemon and sea salt palate cleanser with a jasmine green tea espuma, and when our black-vested waiter set up a portable flame on which to everyone’s delight, he prepared Crepes Suzette for dessert.
Lobby Cafe and bar: The perfect place to grab a coffee and pastry for breakfast or sink into one of the plush couches and have an afternoon drink.
Yes, valet parking is available for NZD$30 (about a A$28) per day.
Indoor heated swimming pool, sauna and spa pool on the top floor.
Yes. Hotel-wide and free of charge.
The hotel is unable to release names but QT Muesum Wellington has been home for many Hollywood movie stars shooting on location in New Zealand.