Little National Hotel review, Canberra

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE PLACE

Little National Hotel, Canberra.

THE LOCATION

After the recent federal election brouhaha every pollie, is surely going to be in need a dose of Zen when next they visit the national capital. And do we have a hotel for them (with a room rate that won't wipe out that generous nightly pollie accommodation allowance).

Situated in a "super-prime" position in the suburb of Barton close to Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle, this minimalist, unorthodox 120-room hotel is pitched at the business and leisure market. It's located within a "campus" of hotels, including Hotel Realm and Burbury Hotel, developed by the enterprising Canberra-based Doma Group.

THE SPACE

With architecture and interior design by Sydney's Redgen Mathieson, Little National is based on the concept of "affordable luxury". It's built atop a well-disguised four-level car park "sheathed in dark metals", with "edge strips" in bright orange gold illuminated at night and referencing the Golden Sun Moth. It's a species of moth whose habitat happens to be in the adjacent York Park.

Among the most impressive features of the hotel is its so-called common areas with views of Parliament House, a sweeping, sculptural staircase linking two floors and two fireplaces.

Open around the clock, seven days a week, these attractive areas are designed as a space to work or simply relax with business associates, friends or even fellow guests. Free T2 tea and coffee are available, as well as a selection of magazines and newspapers.

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THE ROOM

Little National's rooms, located on levels four and five, are right "on-trend" as they reflect the hotel fashion for small, snug timber-floored spaces sacrificing square-metres for a sizeable bathrooms and keeping a lid on nightly rates.

However, a contentious aspect of the rooms is that the super-sized king beds with luxury linen are designed as a unit fully wedged at one end of the room with a wall-to-window alongside and a facing built-in TV.

This means that, should you be sharing your bed during your stay, the guest on the window side in would need to clamber over the guest on the other side when getting in and out (this could well prove to be fun for some but let's not pursue that thought here).

But when consider the rate and the extras you receive such as a Nespresso machine, fluffy robes, cable TV, free Wi-FI, free in-house movies and free local phone calls, the gymnastics of getting in and out of bed seem a trifle.

THE FOOD

A little inconveniently, and perhaps inconsiderately, there is no in-house dining at Little National with guests encouraged to talk a walk across the street to eat and drink at Maple + Clove, LiloTang and Chairman & Yip at Hotel Realm and Burbury Hotel & Apartments.

However, watch this space: a cafe is planned for the Little National with the hotel's lounge offering free beverages between 5 pm and 9 pm, Mondays to Fridays. And the top-notch capital restaurant precincts of Kingston, Kingston Foreshore and Manuka are just a short drive or taxi ride away.

STEPPING OUT

Home to the Department of the Prime Minister and the Department of Foreign Affairs, among other federal government entities, Barton isn't Canberra's most happening suburb. But The Little National is close to some of the capital's major attractions, such as the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament and new Parliament House itself. 

THE VERDICT

Little National is yet another welcome addition to Canberra's remarkable and disproportionate collection of sophisticated, stylish and interesting boutique and design hotels. Devoid of a restaurant but delivering on its "affordable luxury" hype, the innovative, attractive and exceedingly well-designed Little National just scrapes in with a score by this reviewer of four and a half out of five.

ESSENTIALS

Little National Hotel, 21 National Circuit, Barton. Doubles from $129 a night. 

Anthony Dennis was a guest of the Little National Hotel.

HIGHLIGHT

The striking, considered and minimalist interior design and the small though well-equipped rooms.

LOWLIGHT

There's no restaurant, the rooms are small and the location of the beds are in the either love 'em or hate 'em category.