HOW TO DO CANBERRA IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS XX
As you may have read on my meal prep post we recently headed down to Melbourne on a road trip. On the way back we decided to cut the 9 hour journey and stay in Canberra overnight…..this was a great excuse to see how much the city has changed since the last time I was there (around seven years ago!). In the last couple of years there has been so much hype regarding Canberra as an emerging City with trendy ‘art hotels’, organic cafe’s, amazing exhibitions and a steady influx of creative and foodie types.
If I’m honest, we hardly spent 24 hours in the nations capital so I had to let a few things go such as my yearning to go to the National Portrait Gallery, dinner at Eighty Six and a nice serene bike ride around lake Burley griffin (which is next to the Hotel)! We will however be going back and all I can say is at least we’ve got the hotel covered!
Staying at Hotel Hotel was a no-brainer for me….I LOVE the Art scene so the opportunity to stay in an art hotel and be dazzled by the beautiful architecture and quirky aesthetic had got me rather excited. Hotel Hotel is situated in the New Acton precinct which has been defined as Canberra’s new ‘cultural hub’ and is primarily owned by the Molonglo Group who own and built the hotel as well as the surrounding ventures.
The hotel exudes their core principles of ‘sustainability, community, diversity and lifestyle’ and you can’t help but feel pleasantly at home with the exposed beams, humble art collections, beautiful textured cushions and fabrics to sit on and retro furniture that is somewhat intentionally mis-matched.
The hotel consists of 68 rooms and 28 apartments…we were a bit last minute with our booking so all the ‘rooms’ in the hotel were booked out but we managed to bag a one bedroom ‘nishi’ apartment. The hotel is housed within the ‘nishi’ building hence the name. I had read countless reviews saying the rooms were too dark….I think this depends on whether you are facing the internal courtyard or the lake. Our apartment was facing the lake and we had an enormous amount of light. The room was equipped with a fully functioning kitchen and laundry, beautiful Aesop products, a good library of ‘alternative’ books and sustainable heating and cooling. Upon booking we were informed that the apartments are ECO friendly and don’t have air-conditioning, this was somewhat alarming on the 30 degree day that we checked in but the cross flow ventilation worked perfectly and made the room cool enough for comfortable sleeping and general ‘hanging out’.
We had checked in fairly late and luckily we had booked dinner at Monster the hotel restaurant as it was heaving on a Saturday night. True to form the restaurant continues the theme of: seasonal, local and organic and sets itself apart with its humble sharing plates and unique flavour combinations (steamed daintree Barramundi, cabbage, miso, pickled Daikon, candied nori, chichi togarashi……..need I say more? Unbelievable!) and the menu was reasonably priced considering the quality and uniqueness of the dishes (I will be going back!)
I think the biggest surprise for me was that I had envisaged us staying at a ’boutique’ hotel with minimal options in the surrounding area….how wrong I was! The Nishi building has so many things on offer that you barely have to leave the hotel, the things that caught my eye were: the free yoga on a Saturday and Wednesday; the free bicycle hire to cycle around the lovely lake and area; the Palace Electric Cinema and the courtyard Cinema; the Soma Day Spa, La Bimbi Hair Salon and Roji Hair Salon.
That is not even mentioning the culinary delights which we barely touched the surface of! After we checked out we went to A. Baker which is a bakery, but really sells itself as an edgy bistro/restaurant serving up local ingredients (of course!): bread made from organic, milled wheat and utilising vegetables grown on the owners own land. It was definitely worth a visit and looking at the menu also serves up a delicious breakfast and a different menu for night time nibbles. Just steps away all in the Nishi precinct you can satisfy your hungry tummy at Bicicletta, Mocan and Green Grout, Parlour Wine Room and Twenty One Cafe and Groceries….clearly all offering local, seasonal produce and moulding themselves under the ‘organic’ umbrella (tick!).
Overall, as I said earlier I feel like we only touched the surface of Canberra’s new ‘hipster’ delights and I’m looking forward to our return. I would definitely recommend Monster restaurant even if you are not staying at the hotel and if you are staying at the hotel try and give yourself at least 2 nights to really explore the New Acton precinct.