The journal you’re about to read was scratched and scribbled down on the road to…
Spoiler alert: It was…different.
It’s 9 pm on a Saturday night and I’m staring up at my hotel room ceiling trying to mentally Google something.
You know that sweet, sweet feeling when you’re struggling to remember an actor’s name then you Google it and go “That’s it—he was the dad in Home Alone!”
That’s the feeling I’m searching for. Unfortunately, it’s not going so well. It’s exactly the sort of thing I’d love to Google, except that my phone is a metre away—oh, and locked in a wooden box.
I’m two hours into Power Down—QT Canberra’s new Digital Detox package—and I’m starting to feel it.
It’s not that I’m even that addicted to my phone (ahem). Out of work hours, I try my best to stay away from emails and Facebook. I barely allow any notifications for social media.
But I am a sucker for collapsing on my bed at the end of a long day and opening up Instagram for a quick scroll only to emerge an hour later, bleary-eyed and hungry. I’m also guilty of that modern-day affliction I’ll call Disrespectful Date Distraction—the act of checking social media during date night.
My Screen Time app tells me that my daily average screen time is 5 hours and 20 minutes—if I sleep for seven hours a night, that means that 30.5% of my remaining time is spent on my phone.
Last week, I spent 21 hours in total on my phone, six of them on Instagram. On average I receive 63 notifications a day—and that’s with Instagram and email notifications turned off.
It’s these hours that QT wants people to claw back—to experience a night free of distraction.
The Power Down package encourages guests to “put themselves into flight mode and get grounded” with devices handed over for a “self-imposed minimum 12-hour break from screen time and a little self-care”.
As QT puts it, “sometimes, the most important function on your phone is the off switch”.
Many would disagree, but not me.
“I’m not even that attached to it,” I say with a metaphorical flip of my hair as bubbly QT receptionist Jade lowers my phone into a black wooden ‘digital device vault’ upon check-in at 7 pm.
I ignore the chuckle of disagreement from my significant other who will be joining me to ‘Power Down’ as Jade scrambles the combination lock. She gently reminds me that, if I really need it, one call to reception will give me the code but I assure her that won’t be happening.
Upon stepping into the lift, however, I reach into my bag almost unconsciously, my composure compromised by a desire to snap its mirrored interior.
“Will you survive?” asks my SO, giving me a sideways look (he decided to go hardcore and leave his device in the car).
“It’ll be fine,” I sniff. “I just want to collapse and watch a movie.”
“Hmm,” says my SO, already guessing at what’s to come.
We walk into our room to the smell of a candle and low lights. Luxe mid-century furnishing with pops of colour greet us—as does a large black canvas cover on the TV screen printed with the slogan ‘Switch Off. Turn On.’
I make a sound a bit like a kicked cat.
As if conjured by my ensuing panic, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Jade, holding two glasses of sparkling. She says she thought we might appreciate a little pick me up. She’s not wrong. It’s not just the lack of TV making me feel on edge.
We had emerged from dinner earlier that evening to find smoke blanketing the city from the Tallagandra bushfires, the streets eerie and still. I almost didn’t want to hand over my phone—so strong was my desire to stay up to the minute on the bushfires. But I know that we—unlike so many others—are lucky to be in no danger tonight. So, I drink my sparkling and unpack.
Half an hour later and I’m wrapped in a bathrobe, eating cheese and feeling a whole lot better. Maybe there is something to this no-phone thing. I have no idea what time it is (there’s a clock, but why check it?) and I’m wholly focused on the here and now. Or rather, the brie.
Included in the Power Down package is a bath soak or mud mask pamper pack, fresh Lululemon yoga mat, bliss balls, cucumber water and wellness-related goodies like Glow Powder from The Beauty Chef to help you switch off in style.
You can also order from a curated menu of room service items, such as the Sea and Omega Bowl, Essential Clean Tummy Bowl and the Fermented Nourish Bowl.
If you’re after a slightly more romantic meal for two, you can opt for a cocktail and an antipasti platter or, as we chose, a bottle of local red and a cheese platter.
I find that I don’t want to constantly check my news apps because, well, I can’t. Instead, we close the curtains on our smoky city and laugh about the fact that the face mask turns us into Shrek and Fiona.
There are definitely moments where I walk unconsciously to the bedside table or desk, my absent phone like a phantom limb. But aside from wishing I could Google things, my FOMO is at an all-time low. It feels…peaceful. Like I’m on holiday with roaming switched off.
It’s surely an immense privilege to be able to ‘turn off’ from life—the 24-news cycle included. But I suspect many people would find it more nourishing than a luxe spa treatment. In a time where many of us feel trapped by the omnipresent, existential dread of climate change, our news apps serving up one curveball after another, the simplicity of a digital detox seems to do wonders for my headspace.
In the morning I’m awoken by the gentle beep of a delightfully analogue alarm clock. After breakfast and some leisurely paper reading, we head back to Reception with my little black box.
After check out, the city is still smoky and my phone is pinging. I slip it into my bag.
For more information about QT’s Power Down package click here.
The author stayed courtesy of QT Canberra however their opinions remain their own.