A good hotel provides travelers with access to nearby attractions. A great hotel makes travelers want to skip the attractions altogether. When visitors check into these 20 hotels, which ran the gamut from luxurious to anarchic, they never want to leave. The reasons range from glorious views to glorious linens, but there are a few universals. Each of the hotels is a self-contained world entirely apart from reality defined by a set of unwritten laws that maids, bellboys, and, yes, guests, seem to innately understand. These hotels are someone else's fantasies, but they seem, on second glance, as though they might be your own.
QT Hotel, Sydney
The historic elevator in Sydney's plush QT Sydney Hotel rubs it in when you come back to your room alone by playing Bobby Vinton's classic falsetto ode to solitude, "Mr. Lonely." The fact that the hoteliers behind the QT invested time (and hardware) to make elevator music funny is indicative of their approach to the hospitality business: They sell fun and let the good times put heads in beds.
Known for hosting down under royals like 'Avatar' star Sam Worthington, the QT is as vibrant as its eccentric decor. In the foyer, canary yellow armchairs sit atop a royal purple rug and a panoply of television screens behind reception flash NSFW videos. In the rooms, slate gray walls and warm accents are complemented by quirky detailing: top hat table lamps, fluorescent hexagonal rugs, and plush beds draped with red sheepskin pelts.
The hotel is self-consciously eccentric, but the QT doesn't descend into kitsch because it is, at its core, a historical landmark. Located in Sydney's Central Business District, the hotel inhabits the Heritage-listed building that once contained Gowings Department Store, a retail icon of the late 19th century. Accents from the historic building, including Gothic gargoyles and a red Gowings sign on the exterior, have been carefully maintained and the iconic State Theatre, which forms part of the hotel, still hosts performances and screens films.
Upstairs at Gowings Bar & Grill, Italian chef Robert Marchetti prepares French brasserie-style cuisine while the waitstaff flits around in short black dresses. Massive yellowfin tuna line-caught off the coast of South Australia are showcased in a glass display not far from where Sydney's trendsetters clank cocktails in the Gilt Lounge. Attention is easily drawn away from this exhibit to experiential video installations in the lobby and Guilt cocktail lounge.
And yes, if you bring someone back to your room, the elevator cranks up "Let's Get it On."
More information: Rooms at the QT go for between $300 and $2,000 a night. As you might guess, the swankier rooms are massive adult funhouses.
Credit: Courtesy of QT Hotels & Resorts