Design Travel explores the interplay between design and travel. It might be a new hotel for business travellers, an airline collaborating with a world-renowned architect or a product designed specifically to enhance the travel experience. Our brief is to make you want to be there and inspire you to seek out incredible design examples when you travel, or in your own city. 

Stephanie Williams, is an interior designer,  writer and travel communicator. Stephanie was the first editor of Qantas epiQure and her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, television and online.  She also has a love of fashion design, borne while working for Comme des Garcons

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NEW OPENING: Hobart's MACq 01 Australia's First Storytelling Hotel

NEW OPENING: Hobart's MACq 01 Australia's First Storytelling Hotel

Tasmania is a curious place. One of those "if these walls could talk" destinations, with a history so rich and diverse, sometimes bordering on absurd. I travel there a lot, and when I do, I find myself drinking the Koolaid a bit - to me, Tasmania is one of the best places in Australia, if not the world, and Hobart is a city that knows who it is. Not a big city, not trying hard, but just presenting its best self - incredible food, pristine wilderness, open and friendly people and a climate that's best described as varied. 

With all that in mind, Federal Group (the people behind Henry Jones Art Hotel and Saffire) developed MACq 01, Australia's first storytelling hotel. What makes it a 'storytelling hotel' you ask? Each of the 114 rooms features a unique Tasmanian, their stories borne from five distinct character traits - Colourful and Quirky, Hearty and Resilient, Curious and Creative, Grounded, Yet Exceptional and Fighting Believer. The stories are laced throughout the hotel - in the interior, the people, the reading material, hell, even the mini bar! 

The design concepts for MACq 01 Hotel have been developed by interior designers Pike Withers, whose design objective was to create a curiosity and intrigue for what the story might be in each space, rather than a literal interpretation of it. We recently recorded a podcast with Amanda Pike, the principal of Pie Withers and you can listen here. 

The complex in which MACq 01 is situated has been developed by Tasmanian building firm, Vos Construction.  The complex, which includes a few other tenancies, has cost approximately $36 million to build. 

When I checked in, I was introduced by Sam, my butler, to Martin Cash, who's room I'd be spending the night in. Martin was a notorious convict bushranger known for escaping twice from Port Arthur, and I'd be lying if I didn't feel his presence in the room (strange for a green fields project!!). My room was a Premium Waterfront Suite, which was super spacious, with a large bathroom and rooftop balcony with views of Mt Wellington/kunyani. The bathroom is dark (a little challenge for my bespectacled eyes) and has two stone sinks and a matching stone bath. The dressing area is timber lined and is a lovely nook to get dressed.

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Each room houses the work of Tasmanian artists and makers. Duncan Meerding, for example has created incredible timber lights and is legally blind. 

Or perhaps that of Troy Ruffels who has created the beautiful bedheads that are works of art in themselves. 

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The public areas of MACq 01 are inviting - the lobby area is anchored with a circular fireplace and dynamic ceiling installation representing the local indigenous story. The Wharf Restaurant and Story Bar, offer food and wine all day long.  

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Room amenities are playful and relevant. The mini bar is stocked full of Tasmanian liquor, wine, beer, water, sweet treats and snacks. The robes are noteworthy - made from thick cotton jersey, they feel like a cross between a hoodie and a hug, complete with an historic map of the waterfront adorning the inside of the hood. 

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I checked in a little later in the day, so I missed the daily hotel tour with one of the four full time storytellers, but I'm lucky enough to convince one of the storytellers to take me on a quick guided tour anyway. Wandering through the hallways, we stop at various doors over the course of an hour, where I head about Ma O'Dwyer, a local madam who may have rigged up a bell system to hear if her girls were working hard enough, or Sue Becker who was a pioneer in the TV aerobics game. But my favourite story was Alec Campbell, the was the last remaining Anzac. My storyteller was clearly captivated and well versed in his tale. 

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MACq 01 is open for business and rooms start at $288 (it's an opening special). You can book here

The writer travelled as a guest of MACq 01. 

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