Hotel Hotel, Canberra review: When bland takes a holiday

Read our writer's views on this property below

Cold climate luxury is given a creative twist in this hotel with a difference, writes Sally Paterson.

"Fluffy white robes", "crisp linens" and "impressive amenities". They're all part of the standard description of today's large luxury hotel. It's a place where travellers pass the expensive lobby artworks and each other like ships in the night. Interior schemes might be safe and on-trend, the lobby bar a waiting room.

Of course, for a more personalised touch and independent feel, boutique hotels have long been the go-to homes-away-from-home, and are an increasingly popular choice. Just how popular is hard to say, since the term "boutique" is somewhat loose, overused and overlaps with "lifestyle" and "art hotel" genres. But by all accounts, boutique hotels are booming.

Ironically, just about every large hotel chain is cashing in on the trend: Accor has The Como and Hotel Lindrum in Melbourne and Harbour Rocks in Sydney, while the QT brand and a series of Melbourne Art Hotels are owned by the Rydges group.

And then there's Hotel Hotel, among the newest accommodation options on the Canberra scene. It's part indie-boutique, part luxury eco-living, part community hub. What brothers and co-founders Nectar and Johnathan Efkarpidis and 56 artisans, designers and crafty folk have created is unexpected, but not haughty. The vibe is laid-back, not luxe. The high-glossed and polished have been eschewed for the raw and weathered. The staff are as unpretentious as their uniforms. Anonymity is out, communion with the environment, the arts and each other, is in.

From where I sit, it is what hand-stitched is to mass-produced. Each detail is authentic and carefully considered. Its creation, not surprisingly, took three years.

With biodegradable hotel key in hand, I head to my room (No. 230), which looks like it has been curated, rather than designed. It is large at 60 square metres and modelled, as all the rooms are, on the Australian Shack. I run my hands along the textured walls, angled in a way that creates different zones: a comfortable king bed with a head of ancient oak salvaged from the Loire Valley, a narrow desk and a lounge area, fitted out with restored 1950s furniture.

The double-glazed windows open (yes, open) onto an internal atrium, filled with ferns rescued from a now-cleared Tasmanian forest; it is gritty and earthy, yet comfortable and elegant. Even the minibar is fascinating, packed with tasty, locally sourced goods.

Downstairs, in the hotel lobby bar and kitchen, communal tables strewn with books encourage conversation. Corporate travellers sip coffees and do deals as they share a table with ANU students Facebooking with the free Wi-Fi. It's a somehow comforting space, even when dining solo.

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The writer travelled as a guest of Hotel Hotel.

TRIP NOTES

WHERE

Hotel Hotel NewActon Nishi 25 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra

HOW MUCH

Rooms from $285.

GETTING THERE

Canberra is a 3.5-hour drive from Sydney via the M5, Hume Highway and Federal Highway. Parking available under the hotel, which is a 10-minute taxi ride from the airport. Ski gear can be stored at the undercover car park overnight for an extra $5 to room rate.

TOP MARKS

The iPhone and Android app is handy before and during your stay, and the in-room iPad replaces newspapers, hotel guides and the alarm clock.

BLACK MARKS

The in-room lighting in interior rooms is too dark during the day.

DON'T MISS

Special winter wine-tastings - five wines for two people at the bar.

MORE INFORMATION

Hotel-hotel.com.au.