QT Museum 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 Museum 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. 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.

Is a motorbike a work of art?

Art is everywhere, even on the outside walls

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 many 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.

Art at QT Museum Wellington

Ceramic artworks near reception

You will find this bull next to the ceramics

QT Museum Wellington is fresh from a $12 million facelift thanks to its new owners with plush furnishings, rich colours and touches of gilt giving the hotel an opulent look. We received an impressively friendly welcome, even at the ungodly hour of 2am when our (very) early morning flight from Australia arrived. We stayed in a two bedroom self-contained executive apartment 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.

QT Museum Wellington lobby

Executive apartment bedroom

Executive suite dining area

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 Museum 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 Museum Wellington.

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.

Hippopotamus Bar at QT Museum Wellington

Amuse bouche at Hippopotamus

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