Canberra is cool. The New York Times has acknowledged it, so it must be true, right? Well, pockets of Canberra are cool. NewActon, Hotel Hotel’s home, is a case in point: a hip precinct that’s quickly filling with restaurants, bars and galleries.
Hotel Hotel is spread over three floors of NewActon’s Nishi building, an environmentally sustainable apartment and retail block with a Japanese-inspired design, which has become a bit of a local landmark since its completion early last year. Arrival at the 68-room hotel can be underwhelming (there’s no private parking or concierge to take your bags; guests must park in the public Nishi car park and lug their bags up to their rooms), but don’t let that put you off.
The atrium-style lobby-cum-restaurant, with its large open fireplace, wall of vintage suitcases and open library stacked with art and design books makes you understand immediately why this hotel has been creating the buzz it has. Rooms are elegantly designed, with Danish furniture, raw concrete and fabric-papered walls, leather banquette seating, iPads and Aesop products. Request a lake view room; those on the inner layer of the first floor, which look out onto a verdant but dark courtyard, feel a tad war-bunkerish.
Hotel Hotel has 10 slick Goodspeed pushbikes for free hire. Take one for a spin to Telstra Tower for a city view, to the Botanic Gardens to commune with rosellas, cockatoos and roos, or to the National Arboretum for a picnic beneath the cedar trees. If you’re feeling lazy, catch an arthouse flick on the Nishi building’s ground-floor Palace Electric Cinema, or sup on delectable share-plates and wine at Hotel Hotel’s Monster kitchen and bar. You’d be equally as well served heading across the road to A. Baker, an industrial-styled restaurant, pumping speakeasy and elegant wine room in one.
Lonsdale Street Traders in Braddon, the hipster heart of town. A former tyre warehouse, the space now hosts an array of independent shops, including Frith Street for vintage clothing, Moxom & Whitney florist (they sell gorgeous terrariums), and vegan bakery Sweet Bones.
Hotel Hotel, Canberra
Cost: From $275 a night.
Distance: 3 hours’ drive (287km) south-west of Sydney.
25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra, ACT
PHONE: (02) 6287 6287