Where to stay in Canberra
Best for: Political eavesdroppers
Barely 15 minutes’ walk to the door of Parliament House, Hotel Realm is classic and comfortable. Inside, you’ll find everything you need to get yourself ready for a visit to the halls of influence – coffee pods, plenty of hanging space and free Wi-Fi. Stay in a suite, penthouse or two-bedroom residence and you’ll also get a spa bath to warm up in after a long day. Realm is one of the rare Canberra properties to offer 24-hour room service, as well as playing host to onsite bistro and wine bar Buvette, and Canberra dining institution Chairman and Yip.
Best for: Families
Over in Kingston, East Hotel is an art-driven boutique abode that has a hip restaurant and bar, Ox, with more than 100 whiskies (the Sours are brilliant), plus bikes for riding around the capital. The rooms here are contemporary in design, are loaded up with the latest technology and offer loads of space. The real winner is the East two-bedroom apartment that interconnects to a room known as the ‘kids cubby’ and it comes complete with bunk beds, an Xbox 360, kids’ play table and dining table and bean bags.
Best for: Style enthusiasts
You may know the name of this designer hotel chain from their outposts in Melbourne and Wooloomooloo, but Ovolo Nishi has swiftly become a firm favourite for both locals and travellers alike. Taking over the bones of former arty establishment Hotel Hotel in 2018, Ovolo Nishi is a true guest-first hotel. There’s free breakfast, a 24-hour gym, a vino and pintxos hour for all guests, and maybe most importantly, a free in-room mini bar. There are 68 rooms in total, each creatively designed and comfortable featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, huge stone bathtubs and Aussie-made furnishings.
Best for: Animal lovers
If your Instagram feed has been looking a little lacklustre lately, we have a surefire cure: take a bubble bath in this five-star hotel next to a pair of three-year-old Bengal tiger brothers or a fully grown brown bear. Yes, we’re serious. This is a real, actual thing you can do at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, inside Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium. A stay at the Lodge will help support the Zoo’s conservation efforts and comes with all the behind-the-scenes perks you’d hope for from a sleepover at the zoo, including an afternoon tour, pre-dinner drinks, a three course dinner, full breakfast and the chance to wander through an eerily lit aquarium after-hours.
Best for: Party starters
QT Canberra is about making your own cocktails in your room, a barbershop, private rooftop members' lounge, hidden bar Lucky’s, and Capitol prime grill. At Lucky’s, over at the back of the barber shop at QT, it’s hard to go past the house barrel-aged Negroni, while next door at Capitol, the free-range Berkshire-cut pork chop is a must, or go the meatloaf. Upstairs, the rooms are spacious, there’s good water pressure in your shower, and look out for the ingredients to make your own Old Fashioned.
Best for: Groups
With all bases covered, Burbury Hotel and Apartments boasts a mixture of schmick, classic hotel rooms with king beds and movies on demand, fully equipped apartments, smaller studios for bigger groups, and also wheelchair-accessible rooms. Close enough to the action you can practically taste it, Burbury shares amenities with sister hotel across the street, the five-star Hotel Realm, including their health club, day spa, hair salon and restaurants. Bike hire is available, as is a round of high class high tea in Burbury’s rooftop restaurant, complete with delicate French cakes, tarts, traditional scones, tea and freshly brewed coffee.
Best for: Business travellers
From the outside, the Little National seems to be mostly a carpark, wearing a hotel as a jaunty cap. Inside though, they’ve managed to create an exceptionally comfortable hotel that is pitch perfect for business travel. The rooms aren’t huge, but their clever, Japanese-influenced design means you never feel cramped. Automated blackout curtains mean that your sleep is deep and undisturbed, in no small part thanks to the very soft mattress that feel like you’re sleeping on a bed of warm, rising dough. Plus, thoughtful details like luggage stands, decent Wi-Fi and gym facilities show that this truly is an experienced hotel group.
Best for: Couples
The Hyatt Hotel is the place to stay for a true five-star hotel experience. The Art Deco design, perfectly manicured gardens and attentive service make it all feel like you’re officially Canberran royalty. Rooms are spacious, private and exceedingly clean, which is exactly what you’d expect from a Hyatt property. The spacious marble bathrooms are a standout (especially the deep bathtubs). Don’t you dare skip breakfast, either. The Hyatt’s Promenade Café puts on an impressive buffet spread with all the fixings.
Best for: A girls’ weekend
Plan a Canberra adventure with some pals and set up camp inside the cool Avenue Hotel. Situated spitting distance from the hip suburb of Braddon, Avenue is as cosy as slipping into flannelette pyjamas, but with luxurious touches you wouldn’t expect. With 213 spacious rooms, you can take your pick from no-nonsense king rooms, one-bedroom apartments that boast floor-to-ceiling views of the CBD, two-bedroom apartments with private balconies, or a super-luxe spa suite, which comes complete with a two-person spa bath.
Best for: City explorers
Part of the urban village that is the NewActon Precinct, Peppers Gallery Hotel has set up shop in a renovated 1926 apartment block. The perfect base for exploring the city or a business stay, Peppers’ contemporary rooms range from standards to suites and deluxe rooms with deep, sunken baths, and feature plush bedding, rain showers, marble finishes and easy access to Lake Burley Griffin. The hotel also has a fully-equipped gymnasium, 24-hour room service and Italian trattoria Bicicletta right on site.