In 1928 a grand two-storey Commonwealth Bank complete with four fluted columns opened in Albury and was later the home of a Bond's jocks and socks store. The striking art deco building is now a sophisticated spa hotel with two suites, five chic treatment rooms, a retail area and Indigenous art gallery. There's eclectic art and installations, including Indonesian lighting artist Ong Cen Kuang's large Ferousified Chrysanthemum that's made from crocheted wire and suspended above the parquetry floored entrance – it's a showstopper.
It's slap bang in the middle of the city's tree-lined main street towards what's become known as the Paris end of Albury. The extensive nine-month renovation of the Albury property is the third location of Ririn and Kevin Yaxley's CIRCA group of hotels and day spas, joining CIRCA 1936 in Corowa and CIRCA 1929 in Wagga Wagga. It's a short walk to the beautiful Botanic Gardens and a stride to cafes, shops and MAMA Art Museum.
The spacious Dean Suite overlooks the main street and features a Pro Hart theme – he was born the same year as the bank opened. There's a Pro Hart signed print and his metal ant sculptures creep across the wall. It's hard to leave the king-sized bed but a soak in the hand-beaten copper bath below a stunning stained-glass window is enticing. The grey and black toned bathroom is also home to the original bank managers' personal vault. The Stanley suite showcases Andy Warhol, also born in 1928, with an eclectic portrait and "lips" adorning the ceiling. The second level suites are accessed by lift or staircase.
We enjoy a grazing plate with local treats and wine, then select an affogato nightcap that's delivered to our room before bedtime. Continental breakfast includes fresh fruit, warm pastries, cold meats and cheeses and arrives on an art deco tea trolley. We dine on a 20-million-year-old petrified wood table and can't resist checking out what's happening in the street below.
Albury's newest gallery, Art Partners Australia, opened by Jacinta Mirams at 488 David Street (artpartners.com.au) features the unique sculptural work of Lorraine Connelly-Northey and local artists including Kim Passalaqua, Mary Jane Griggs and Catherine Stewart. The Riverdeck (riverdeckcafe.com.au) at picturesque Noreuil park alongside the Murray River and European-style eatery Bistro Selle (bistroselle.com) offer excellent dining, showcasing the best of local produce and innovative menus.
Albury's only five-star bolthole is a head turner offering great service and fabulous Li'tya spa indulgences as well as the traditional "ratus" treatment for women only that's certainly sparked curiosity.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
four and a half stars ****.5
Circa 1928, 588-590 Dean Street, Albury, NSW 2640. Rooms from $500 a night. See circahotels.com
Sue Wallace was a guest of Circa 1928 and Destination NSW.