Hotel Hotel, Canberra review: Weekend Away

Read our writer's views on this property below

Katarina Kroslakova finds there's a lot to love about a new Canberra hotel with a memorable name.

THE SETTING

The striking Nishi building that houses Hotel Hotel is the jewel in the NewActon crown. It has been a long time coming but the property is now buzzing with guests, locals, students and hipsters. It's not smack-bang in the middle of the CBD but that's not a bad thing as a little community has sprung up around the hotel, which means you need only walk a few steps to be fed, watered and entertained.

THE SPACE

The 68-room boutique hotel is a labour of love for the owners, the Molonglo Group, particularly directors Nectar and Johnathan Efkarpidis. There is a lot going on here, a lot to take in and process and understand. Every nook and cranny has something antique, handmade, unique, or specially commissioned. Local artisans have created plates, lights, tiles, glasses; there is an art collection, library, even a pop-up shop.

It is an environmentally friendly building, boasting Australia's highest six-star rating. There are some design aspects that won't appeal or make sense to everyone, but overall the feel is welcoming. It's clear this property is not following any hospitality rules.

THE KIT

There are two very different room types. Half the rooms face the street and are flooded with natural light. The other half are dark, moody and have views of the internal rainforest courtyard. The two types couldn't be more different in feel and effect, so be specific when you book.

I have stayed in both and would only stay in the lighter one again. I loved the bright, airy feel - it had an uplifting effect (and make-up application was a cinch).

The darker rooms appeal to those wanting pure escapism, a cosy cocoon of privacy and comfort; they are a stylish way to shut out the world.

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COMFORT FACTOR

Big comfy bed - tick. Great shower - tick. So the basics are well and truly covered. The bells and whistles include Aesop toiletries, a good mini-bar selection, a study area to separate work and play, and incredibly helpful and friendly staff to help with any requests. I missed having a newspaper delivered to my room, and the selection of TV channels was meagre.

FOOD

Still a work in progress as the main restaurant and kitchen opening has been delayed - estimated time of opening is in another six or so weeks. But the current offering is already pretty good, so the only way is up.

Chef Sean McConnell (brother of celebrated Melbourne chef Andrew McConnell) heads up the food creation here. Breakfast is fantastic, including a light, seasonal version of poached eggs with labna, dukkah, avocado and grain toast.

The atrium is open from 7am until 11pm - this is an appealing space for locals to sit and chat, work, eat or just think. Lunch and dinner includes delicious toasties, share plates, salads (some featuring seasonal produce from the on-site gardens), and you can order anything to your room.

The wine list features a good selection of local Canberra wines - the rose is particularly addictive.

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

If you want to have a lazy, self-indulgent, "on holiday while at home" kind of a weekend, then you really need not venture far.

Nearby is a cinema, wine bars, cafes, restaurants, hairdresser, gallery, and the hotel also provides bicycles for you to get around the area. But should you wish to explore, I'd suggest the Canberra vineyards region, about 20 minutes' drive away, for something a bit different from the usual gallery crawl.

THE VERDICT

If you have a curiosity and appetite for design and staying somewhere new and quirky, then book here.

HOW TO GET THERE

A comfortable three-hour drive from Sydney, seven hours from Melbourne, or fly into Canberra and the property can organise a transfer.

ESSENTIALS

There are three room sizes and rates. The Original rooms start at $285 a night, the Creative rooms start at $325 and the Meandering rooms at $405. Breakfast is not included. 25 Edinburgh Ave, NewActon, Canberra, phone 02 6287 6287, see hotel-hotel.com.au.

The writer stayed at her own expense.