While the Gold Coast has long drawn holidaymakers to its shores – beckoning in visitors with the gleam of its pristine beaches – the unveiling of a vibrant cultural precinct has seen the destination further entice both sightseers and locals to explore a shiny new side to this stretch of iconic Queensland coastline.
Discover the groundbreaking arts hub that’s putting the GC on the map for cultural travellers.
When entering HOTA (which stands for ‘Home of the Arts’, pronounced ‘hot-a’), the first thing that catches the gaze of first-time visitors is the vivid patchwork facade of its new, state-of-the-art gallery. And yet, what might not be apparent at first is that the well-established HOTA precinct spans 17 hectares of scenic parklands, tucked just behind the beaches of Surfers Paradise.
Here, the sun-soaked, laidback GC lifestyle converges with the world of art and entertainment – and the result is captivating.
This unique cultural precinct encompasses an award-winning outdoor stage, a world-class, AAA-rated gallery, two cinemas, various sized theatres, a selection of dining and drinking locales, and a place where guests can enjoy varied arts performances, including comedy shows and live music gigs. It’s the Gold Coast, but not as we know it.
Drawing people off the beach and into a gathering space where five galleries reside, the HOTA Gallery – which opened in May 2021 – includes a dedicated children’s gallery, alongside an expansive collection of permanent and revolving exhibition spaces. This newly formed community hub is the largest gallery outside of a capital city in Australia.
While there may be a range of arts spaces across the country that host cultural events, very few are home to sprawling parklands – and none boast a sand-fringed tidal lake flanked by palms trees where visitors can take a dip after visiting the gallery.
As well as the parklands being home to weekly HOTA Farmers & Artisan Markets, there are myriad performances and activities presented in the freedom of fresh air between the architecturally designed Outdoor Stage and Lawn Bar. From ballet under the stars to free live music performances and unexpected outdoor art installations, there’s a world of open-air experiences waiting to be discovered.
A day spent exploring HOTA is bound to build a robust appetite, and, as part of its lifestyle precinct, the site presents an enticing choice of bars and restaurants.
Aptly named The Exhibitionist Bar, a rooftop watering hole on Level 5 of HOTA Gallery serves up inimitable views of the coast, alongside elegant dishes that celebrate local produce (think elevated lobster rolls) and an inventive cocktail menu that pays homage to the artworks of the major exhibition below. Alongside the cocktails, the bar’s wine list honours minimal-intervention and small-batch winemakers, and its selection of beers showcases the Gold Coast’s growing brewery scene. Here, you can sip on an expertly concocted cocktail and watch a peach-hued sunset sink over the horizon. Better yet, the bar is open daily.
On the ground floor of HOTA Gallery lies the sophisticated, yet relaxed, Palette Restaurant. While the menu may epitomise fine dining (Palette is just one of four eateries on the Gold Coast to be awarded a prestigious two hats in by the Australian Good Food Guide) the pared-back fit-out, a welcoming team and sociable atmosphere encapsulate the easy-going nature of the GC.
Executive chef Dayan Hartill-Law is continually curating menus that are every bit as artful as the gallery’s prized pieces. The chef’s commitment to creating innovative, expertly executed dishes that taste as beautiful as they look is evident on every plate that is delivered to diner’s tables. Every detail has been considered at Palette. Here, tasting menus include a dedicated vegetarian menu, and desserts continue to play on the refined yet accessible air of the eatery.
When it comes to high teas, you might expect to revisit the usual suspects: cucumber sandwiches and scones. But, at Palette’s weekly Sunday high teas, rye bread is topped with top-grade wagyu pastrami and sauerkraut, and sweets include such culinary creations as smoked paperbark and wattle-seed compressed choux, and Hendrick’s G&T Marshmallows with white chocolate and lime.
For a casual bite, the resident HOTA Cafe ensures those perusing the gallery are well fed with its hearty fare. From its cheese and charcuterie boards for two, to its satisfying burgers, salads, generously topped bowls, and sweets from the counter, the cafe is an easy choice for a reviving meal between viewing the gallery’s collections. Little art admirers are also catered for with a kids’ menu.
One part gallery, one part entertainment venue, one part verdant parklands and one part dining precinct, HOTA is a surprise package where unexpected experiences await at every turn – and on every visit.