It’s the type of day that makes me fall in love with Tasmania all over again – blindingly blue winter skies, a brisk ocean breeze that carries the aroma of wood fires and the pop of champagne corks. The latter is to welcome guests to Hobart’s newest hotel, MACq 01, a timber-and-glass pavilion hugging the city’s waterfront. It’s only steps from its sister property, the Henry Jones Art Hotel, although is vastly different in style.
Occupying a finger of reclaimed land that was once a dock for shermen and whalers, the hotel’s building has seen a number of incarnations over the years. You don’t need to use your imagination to picture what it was like – guest rooms and suites come equipped with a View finder so you can glimpse historic photographs of the neighbourhood. But MACq01 doesn’t just show the story of Tasmania, it also tells it through the people that have, and still do, call the island home.
Each of the hotel’s 114 rooms is named after a local “character”, whether it’s a member of the indigenous community, a free settler, a convict or trader. That means you can check in to the Woretemoeteryenner room, dedicated to a native girl who was taken from her Manalagena tribe by British sailors around 1810. The next two decades of her life are a tale of hardship and deprivation: she bore five children, was sold to fur seal traders and was ferried from Sydney to Mauritius, with stops in between. A bronze plaque on guestroom doors offers a brief introduction to the character, with a coffee table book elaborating on your room’s namesake.
Step into the elevator and you’ll think you’re hearing things – but it’s just the chatter of the hotel’s “residents” setting the scene for the journey to your bed for the night. It’s all explained on a tour by one of the hotel’s four “storytellers”, who take you on an hour stroll around the hotel or to explore nearby Sullivans Cove. Each of the hotel’s characters is also given a personality type – hearty and resilient, colourful and quirky, curious and creative, grounded yet exceptional, and fighting believers – which then defines the room’s key design elements. The main distinguishing feature is the striking floor-to-ceiling bedhead, custom crafted by local artist Troy Raffles. In some rooms, the artwork is playful and vibrant, in others, it nods to Tasmania’s oft –stormy skies. Lights and lamps, meanwhile, are made from repurposed wood off cuts by designer Duncan Meerding – legally blind, Meerding uses ltered impressions of light to in uence his in-room creations.
It comes as no surprise that the story continues in public areas. The entrance is adorned with Matthew Flinders’ chart of Tasmania, while tabloid tales are the focus in the Story Bar, which displays reproductions of some of the most infamous front pages in the island’s history. There’s a stellar collection of local whiskeys and gins on offer. The restaurant, meanwhile, has installations of Hobart’s early industries – mining, farming, boat building and whaling – with artworks crafted by the indigenous community. On the plate, chef Simon Pockran is all about local produce, whether it’s Derwent Valley lamb, Spring Bay mussels or Cape Grim Beef.
The property is the brainchild of the Federal Group, whose other notable Tasmanian hotel is stunning Saffire Freycinet overlooking the granites, a 2.5-hour drive north of the capital. And despite just having cut the ribbon on MACq 01, they’re already planning another luxury resort on the grounds of Port Arthur World Heritage Site. Needless to say, there will be a few more stories to tell when that opens. macq01.com.au