Hotel Review: QT Auckland New Zealand. Rooftop Bar, cracking steaks and Marina location

I don’t know about you, but after everyone rushed to spend up a storm in Europe last winter (or at least got as far as Bali…!), it seems like most people are opting for a more low-key, affordable holiday closer to home this year. We have reviewed many QT Hotels and their experiences in Australia so this is our first review in ‘land of the long white cloud’ – New Zealand

Arrival, Reception and Location

If you have never been to Auckland before, be aware that there is a REALLLLY long walk from the airport to the taxi and rideshare area. I suggest taking luggage with wheels and not wearing heels! Having travelled via foot and taxi for what seems to be almost as long as the actual flight, I arrive to the QT Hotel in the Viaduct area of Auckland around 7.30pm.

QT Hotel is on the edge of the action of the marina packed with restaurants, gelataria, ferries and plenty of people watching. It’s a lengthy but easily doable walk to the popular Britomart and the main CBD shopping area.

I walk through the entrance and can see their flagship restaurant, Esther, to the right of the reception. It is not quite as strong a welcome or as dramatic an entrance as the QT hotels in Australia, but is on theme for the brand. Once I have my key card, it is back around to the lifts up to Level 5, which is decorated with a backlit floral arrangement design.

Hotel Room 525 – QT King

QT King room

Stepping out at Level 5 is a bit of a maze and after wandering around with some other confused guests, I end up finding my room just to the right of the lifts. The King is QT’s basic entry level room which is quite compact but has the same signature aesthetic that the brand is known for, with it’s moody industrial design, muted lighting and quality amenities. The bar is set up with luxe, well sized drinks to choose from, especially for whiskey-lovers (there’s nothing mini about this bar!) along with plenty of local snacks showcasing NZ treats. The bathroom has our fave Dyson and Kevin Murphy hair and body products and a nice hot rainfall shower.

The King-sized bed is covered with plenty of fluffy pillows and cushions to relax on, adjacent to the low table and lightweight chairs backed by the metal wardrobe. Inside, there are the usual QT shrunken style hotel robes, although Auckland does have slippers! Albeit, one pair that are QT branded and wrapped in plastic and one pair unbranded and unwrapped – I am not sure if it is the QT quirkiness factor or an accident? Either way, I settle on the branded pair to pad around in. I enjoy flipping through their wonderfully whimsical picture book called QT Curious Currencies which is almost like a time capsule of everyone’s favourite things – a blast from the past!

Flicking on the TV above the double wine rack, which whilst it unfortunately doesn’t have any entertainment, does have all the info you need for your stay regarding pricing, ordering room service – and even has QT yoga videos. Whilst there’s not much space for yoga, it does sound like the perfect idea after a long day’s travelling to iron out some kinks, so I quickly check the wardrobe – sadly there is no yoga mat. Well, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Sleep Quality – Unfortunately, the room is right next to the lifts, there is a lot of noise with loud talking from hotel guests along with seemingly lost visitors from the rooftop bar late into the night. As the rooftop bar is on the floor above, I can hear the tables and chairs scraping throughout the evening. However, the bed itself is very comfortable and the dark blinds are effective, so I am sure it would be a restful sleep mid-week when the hotel and bar is less busy.

Dinner – Esther Restaurant

Like all QT restaurants, whilst attached to the hotel, they are worth visiting in their own right, unlike most hotel restaurants. Esther is no exception. It is a relaxing blonde Scandi style design that belies it’s Mediterranean-focused cuisine and is quite the contrast to the industrial vibe throughout the rest of the hotel. There is a nice mix of open, airy spaces for larger groups and some special nooks and crannies for solo diners and romantic catchups.

I am looked after by the friendly, knowledgeable and thoughtful John who quickly serves up a dry gin martini with a very lemony twist. Whilst they don’t have the Gilded Chaos gin, which is a QT collab with Four Pillars in Australia, it is a bright start to the evening.

Refreshing martini to start the evening

My char-grilled Tasmanian Octopus with smeared cannellini beans, romesco sauce and a medley of crushed green and Kalamata olives appears.

Delightful charred Octopus

Following this, is one of the most fantastic steaks I have had in a long time. It is a medium-rare eye fillet from Speckle Park, which is tender and comes with a gentle peppercorn jus with a half garlic slow roasted in it’s skins. It’s buttery flavour is divine when smeared with the sauce and meat. This goes well with a glossy green serve of cooked down cavolo nero with anchovy, chilli, garlic and lemon – one of my favourite zippy combos. I pair this with an ideally matched Hawke’s Bay Syrah (what we call Shiraz in Australia).

One of THE truly best steaks with a zippy side of cavolo nero

Sadly, there is no room for dessert or cheese this time, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back for fantastic food and sensational service. I can see why it’s a local favourite for non-guests!

Breakfast – Esther Restaurant

Despite the 2 hour time difference and the lack of sleep, I am up early for breakfast to join a half day tour of Auckland, which you can read all about here

I start with the Beetroot raw energy juice which is a much needed perky pick me up at this early hour. I try the fluffy baked tortilla with Manchego cheese, potato and egg with some cold prosciutto on the side. It is simple but tasty rustic-style fare – a good start for a busy day ahead!

The Sunday morning, not having an early start, I head down to breakfast later in the day and it is very busy. The Immunity juice is nice but doesn’t have quite the pep I expected from the orange and ginger.

I order the One Pan breakfast which takes a while time to come out –the busy staff are trying to keep up the pace. Sadly when it arrives, most of it is very overdone as the bacon is burnt and the eggs are rock hard however, the chorizo sausage and Spanish tomatoes were tasty.

For the final morning, I have a very early checkout to catch the 11.5 hour long train ride from Auckland down to Wellington (which I highly recommend doing btw) so I am in the restaurant shortly after it opens at 6.45am – needless to say it is just me and the staff, so whilst slightly cautious, I decide to chance the One Pan breakfast again and it fully redeems itself. Perfect, slightly runny eggs, lightly cooked bacon and tomatoes with lightly toasted sourdough – and of course, that yummy chorizo. Consider my faith restored!

Rooftop Bar

I head up to QT’s Rooftop Bar on level 6, which offers expansive views across the Auckland CBD to the right and the water and islands on the left. I perch at a corner table, hoping to catch a glimpse of a glimmering NZ sunset followed by some amazing lights of the Aurora Borealis which is happening that weekend. Alas, it turns out Auckland doesn’t really have sunsets and is too far north for the Aurora Borealis. The rooftop quickly fills up about 4.30pm as the sunny afternoon turns to dusk and then the twinkly lights in the darkness of the night. Backed by some low key drum and bass, QT is serving chilled, laidback Café Del Mar vibes for this Sunday evening.

The friendly bar staff are knowledgeable about the cocktails and happy to engage with customers. I try the Eden’s Elixir cocktail which has a nice kick, and it’s not as fruity as I expected given the apple (which suits me). Very moreish! I follow this with the Burnt-Butter Old Fashioned with Woodford Reserve Rye, pineapple syrup and sherry which tastes like the Christmas version of an Old Fashioned – buttery smooth and is quite sweet, much like a butterscotch lolly topped with a scorched sage twist.

Auckland by night

The Verdict

What we were addicted to?: The incredible meal and service at Esther for dinner was definitely the highlight for the stay, along with (on balance, 2 out of 3) their breakfasts and the Rooftop view. And I am always happy to indulge in luxuries like Kevin Murphy haircare offered in the strikingly designed QT rooms.

What we need to be more addicted? It would be great to have tried one of their quieter rooms and get a good night’s sleep. (But we didn’t ask to be moved) The customer experience varied across QT Hotel, Rooftop and Esther from friendly, fantastic and focused to indifferent. Plus it would great to have yoga mats to go with their videos, at least for the more spacious rooms or suites.

QT Auckland 4 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland, New Zealan

About the author

Having wined, dined and socialised her way around the world, Kelly now calls Sydney home and loves to share her discoveries – lucky us! Most often found with a glass of champagne in her hand, something delicious to eat in front of her and telling a tall tale.


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