What is a storytelling hotel? And what’s it like to be the first to sleep in one of its beds? I stayed at the brand new MACq01 in Hobart, Tasmania on its opening night and shaped a story of my own to share.

Some hotels are designed with a consistent brand (and sometimes bland) experience in mind; others take in their local surrounds and personality to influence their look and feel.

But what if a hotel took extraordinary, real human stories old and new from an entire state’s history to theme each room?


The hotel entrance stairway

That’s exactly what the creators of the $36m MACq01; Hobart’s hottest new hotel did to bring this richly textured place to life in the most respectful of ways to the history of its indigenous ancestors, early European settlement and convict extradition.

Created by the clever folk that brought you the stunning Saffire Freycinet and The Henry Jones Art Hotel just across the road, the story goes that this ‘curious team of listeners’ toured the local pubs of Tasmania far and wide over 18 months to unearth an eventual 114 individual stories to match each one of the 114 rooms.


You can only begin to imagine some of the outrageously wild nights they must have experienced on the road to source the stories. That’s my kind of mission and probably a book or a movie in its own right.

Spirited stories of heroes, villains, trailblazers and out-and-out eccentric characters whom became (and in some cases still are living) legend in Tasmania. Stories of love and loss, hope and despair, hilarity, wonder and in some instances, depravity.

Room 313. Taffy the Bee man

Room 313. Taffy the Bee Man

The outcome of the research was that five character qualities were identified as key Tasmanian traits including; Colourful & Quirky, Hearty & Resilient, Curious & Creative, Grounded, Yet Exceptional & Fighting Believer.

Each of these character traits is represented throughout MACq01 Hotel, most notably in the design and fit out of the rooms and suites. For example, rooms, which reflect the Hearty & Resilient character trait, may exhibit quality timbers and leather furniture; whereas those reflecting the Colourful & Quirky character trait are more likely to exhibit vibrant artworks and creative décor.


Waterfront Room


Luxury Waterfront Suite

A crucial part of the process was also to partner early on with the traditional caretakers of the land, the Mouheneenner people to bring their stories to the fore and ensure a platform was created via the hotel to form a better understanding of Tasmania’s Aboriginal past for all.

It’s an inspiring and much-needed unity that will no doubt only continue to strengthen for the benefit of all Australians, from wherever they come from.

The result is a truly remarkable and meaningful concept that acts as a powerful educator and influencer on just where Tassie has come from and where it’s headed.


Welcome to the world’s first storytelling hotel


Striking design everywhere

Stretching proudly along the famous Old Wharf and looking out across the Derwent Estuary, back to Hobart and high above to Mount Wellington, the iconic MACq01 is well placed to create plenty of stories of its own.

The contemporary design of the place is gorgeous and a design lovers paradise. Every element has been carefully considered with local details weaved into its fabric and the changing light of the day and local colour factored into all of its aspects.

The 114 character storybook

The 114 doors storybook

Each of the 114 rooms and suites tells the story of a separate character, with a unique illustration on every door and artefacts relating to that character inside. If you want to explore all of the 114 characters even more you can get comfy and read the gorgeously produced book in every room.

“We are a bit strange here, a bit different,” says Tom Wootton, MACq01’s marketing manager. “So we decided to create a hotel that focuses on the stories of the Tasmanians.”

All of the rooms and suites were designed based on feedback from guests and are created to be the kind of relaxed, informal spaces that feel like ‘a home from home’. All are generously oversized with the massive suites featuring huge astro turfed balconies that gaze out to the Derwent Estuary and back to the old town of Hobart.

My room (313) was inspired by legendary bee keeper ‘Taffy The Bee Man’, who as the story goes could be found in Tasmania by simply writing his name on an envelope with no address necessary. A bee and nature loving, passive man, he was tragically found murdered in his hut by an unknown assailant. What happened that day to poor old Taffy I wonder?


My Luxury Waterfront Suite

Suite bathroom

Suite bathroom

Play a game of quoits out on your terrace if you’re up for it (I couldn’t hit a single shot), or gaze out into the blue yonder sipping a glass of Tassie Pinot Noir, or perhaps a stronger drop of Hobart Distillery’s Lark Whiskey (Voted Best Australian Single Cask Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards in 2016).


Cocktail anyone?

Crank up the Nespresso coffee machine and discover local-made treats including leatherwood honey drops, grass-fed beef jerky with mountain pepperberry as well as local bevvies and even cool bottled cocktails such as the Vesper Martini, Negroni or Sidecar by Hobart gin-maker Sud Polaire.

The immersive storytelling continues everywhere you go with a roaring indoor ‘fire pit’ where tales are told by charismatic hotel Master Storyteller Justin Johnstone or the aptly named ‘Story bar’, which features old Tasmanian newspaper clippings hanging above the bar and local Antiquities from days gone long by. You can even make your own gin there. Yes really.


MACq01 Master Storyteller Justin Johnstone

Even the lifts tell random, different stories as you ride them. Did I hear something I think to myself or was that the whiskey talking?

The Old Wharf Restaurant is led by Saffire Freycinet’s former Head Chef Simon Pockran and serves contemporary cuisine with locally sourced produce, in particular, the freshest seafood that perfectly complements the backdrop of passing Cray boats.


The Old Wharf Restaurant

The service overall is as you might imagine, exceptional with a passionate team who have taken the stories to their own hearts and are already owning them with pride. I honestly can’t fault MACq01 on any level and was blown away by the enormous level of design detail, care and consideration that has gone into making this concept a reality.

Sleeping in the heavenly bed and waking up to a stunning sunrise over the estuary was very special indeed and my only disappointment was having to leave after just one night.

Tasmania is internationally famous for it’s unspoilt, natural beauty, freshest produce and culinary scene and increasingly its creative and arts industry including MONA and festivals such as Dark Mofo. But it’s the quirky Tasmanian’s themselves and their unique spirit who seem to stand out the most as a constant reason for visitors to return.


The ‘fire pit’ where stories are told and shared

MACq01 has brought that spirit together and created a place of beauty to tell incredible character stories past and present.

Such stories simply must be shared.

Rooms at MACq01 start at $305 per night for the Hunter Room to $1200 per night for the Luxury Waterfront Suite. For more information, visit MACq01

Sound like your kind of hotel? Share your thoughts below.

Matt stayed in a Waterfront Suite (313) at MACq01 as a guest of the hotel and Tourism Tasmania.