With its apothecary-style installation in the window, spaQ doesn’t look like your typical spa. But then the QT Sydney is not your typical hotel.
Tucked away on the mezzanine of the old Gowings department store, spaQ has the look of a 1920s shop but the feel of a high-end spa.
The treatments at spaQ are as unique as the decor and I was particularly interested to try out the ‘freshly picked’ experience – the treatment is decided on the day depending on your needs. During the time allocated before each treatment the therapist will sit down with you to work out what treatment suits you best. Having spent the morning hunched over my desk and then lugging a large handbag around the city I confessed to the pain in my neck and shoulders. The therapist recommended a thermal massage and invited me into the treatment area so she could get to work.
Before the treatment room is a darkened relaxation area where you can get into the right mind-set for your treatment. Seats covered in fluffy, black throws are provided next to reading material (hello, Collective Hub) and herbal tea. I took a few moments to relax before being invited to start my treatment.
The treatment rooms are a little unusual. With tiled walls and cracked mirrors they resemble an old barber shop (like the actual Barber Shop which is found next door). But the décor is of no concern as the treatment has begun.
Once I was comfy under the thick blankets the therapist returned to begin her magic. She sprayed the room with a fragrant mist, instructing me to inhale deeply and relax as she dimmed the lights for the treatment to begin.
Using a lightly scented oil by Kerstian Florian she worked her way from my feet up to the knots in my back, then worked into them using a thermal oil that tingled gently. Legs, arms, neck and (my favourite) head – all were worked into a tension-free putty.
At the end of my treatment the therapist made some recommendations for future care. She had noticed the tension in my shoulders and gave me a list of oils she said would help soothe them. She also advised I make time to use their in-house hammam, but I sadly had to get back to my desk.
(spaQ treatments include complimentary use of the Hammam-inspired steam and ice room. They suggest you factor in an additional 45 minutes to your treatment time. Used by both sexes, swimwear is a must!)
I did take a snoop around the hotel lobby before leaving though. I’d loved the mix of art and humour when I stayed at the QT Gold Coast but I think I like the QT Sydney even better. With installations reflecting the building’s retail and theatrical roots (the building straddles the old Gowings department store and art deco State Theatre next door), I ended up literally drooling over the vintage luggage, mannequins and old movie posters.
It’s not all retro though – the lift features the LED artwork of Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd and even tailors the music it plays according to the number of people inside. (“Just the two of us” for couples, for example.)
spaQ is situated on the mezzanine floor at QT Sydney, the courteous and immaculately groomed staff (they have their make up done in the spa) will be able to show you the way.
Massage therapy starts from $150 for a 60 minute treatment. For more information visit the spaQ website.
Read next: 6 best boutique hotels in Sydney