Here's something I can tell you on the QT - Sydney's newest hotel is just what this city needs. A quirky, fun, interesting place to play … or stay.
You know it's not going to be the normal formal hotel experience when the staff greet you dressed in character, from tea-drinking, bowler hat-wearing toffs to stylish, flame-haired sirens.
Built in 1912 as the Gowings department store, the building became Sydney's first multi-level shopping centre, closing in 2006. QT owners snapped up the building for $69 million, then spent $69 million doing it up. While on a tour, my guide gave me a sneak peek into the men's loos, where heritage-listed urinals are incorporated with sleek modern lines. And that sums it up - the decor is modern eclectic but always with a nod to its past.
There's a wall installation art piece with objects found on the building site, including old pieces of luggage, State Theatre seating plans and drawers. Cocktail lounges and private dining rooms are furnished with mismatched chairs from different eras - they blink at you like characters who've turned up in the wrong play.
There are nooks and crannies everywhere. As I took it all in, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. I bumped into architect Nick Graham and asked him if it was hard to conceptualise the hotel in the beginning. ''Hard?'' he said with a laugh. ''It was like pooing an elephant!''
I popped down to the day spa, which has an old-fashioned barber's shave room - but as I walked through, the barber was shaving a woman's legs. My magical mystery tour continued to the hotel rooms, where I found performance artists to entertain and entice. One room contained a fake porn shoot complete with sleazy director. Another had a DJ and a modelling shoot. But my favourite was the penthouse, with its own rock band and groupies trashing the joint. It seems the hotel is promoting the idea that whatever happens behind closed doors stays on the QT.
Shelly Horton is editor-at-large and acting editor of S plus a regular on Channel Seven's Sunrise, The Morning Show and Weekend Sunrise.