QT, 1 London Circuit, Canberra City

QT Hotels are known for the quirky and colourful and their Canberra HQ is no exception. Steeped in Australian political history, QT Canberra celebrates its capital location through bold design by Nic Graham, quirky nuances, bespoke furniture and political-inspired art.

It sits on the edge of cultural precinct NewActon, giving you restaurants, bars, cinemas, beauty and wellness destinations, galleries and cultural institutions on your doorstep. That’s if you can be enticed beyond the hotel walls…

The rooms are playful, with views to die for (and then there’s the bonus ‘QT Old Fashioned’ cocktail making kit that comes with each guest room!). Downstairs is Capitol Bar & Grill, created by acclaimed Australian restauranteur Robert Marchetti, a ‘power diner’ with a formidable wine list and a menu of bistro classics with an Italian twist.

After dinner, make your way through The Barber Shop (yep, the guys can also get groomed onsite) to Lucky’s Speakeasy - a prohibition-style speakeasy offering a modern twist on classic cocktails and bar snacks and the perfect place to get sauced in secret.

Inside one of the QT Canberra rooms
The QT Canberra rooms are playful, with views to die for

HOTEL HOTEL, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, NewActon

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Canberra anymore." With apologies to The Wizard of Oz, from the moment you climb the Nishi Grand Stair, meticulously constructed from reclaimed timber, you step inside a new, strangely captivating place.

Hotel Hotel’s NewActon foyer doubles as award-winning restaurant Monster kitchen + bar, an eclectic and welcoming space that invites visitors and locals alike to pull up a comfy chair or table and while away the hours. The sprawling space is packed with eye candy - a fireplace made from stacked slabs of concrete, mosaic tiles from Turkey, a collection of vintage suitcases, 70s-style skylights that gaze up into the atrium above.

Its 68 rooms continue the intriguing aesthetic and each one is unique, dressed with carefully chosen artworks, objects and restored furniture. If you can drag yourself from your room, there’s plenty to explore without leaving the building: treat yourself to Aveda products and a tea at ROJI hair salon; catch a new release or art-house film at Palace Electric Cinema, stopping for a cheeky bubbles at The Prosecco Bar; get bendy at one of the complimentary yoga classes; or pull up a seat in the Hotel Hotel Library, stocked with art, architecture and design books.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, grab one of the locally-made Goodspeed bikes available for you to see Canberra at your own pace; or get cultural at Nishi Gallery, a beautiful little gallery that encourages local, interstate and international art exhibitions, and it’s just a minute’s walk from the hotel doors.

A woman in the Hotel Hotel Library, stocked with art, architecture and design books
Pull up a seat in the Hotel Hotel Library, stocked with art, architecture and design books

EAST HOTEL, 69 Canberra Ave, Kingston

This family-owned hotel in Kingston in Canberra’s trendy inner south really is a home away from home, albeit one with real designer cool.

The attitude at EAST is all about ‘surprise and delight’: free iMacs, magazines, lollies and flavoured water in the lobby; complimentary bicycles to cruise Canberra’s network of bike paths (the cultural institutions are just a 10-minute ride away); midday checkout; a guest laundry; and in winter, hot mulled wine at check-in. Hey, it’s always wine o’clock somewhere in the world!

The rooms are contemporary and welcoming, and the specially appointed kid studios are a particular favourite for those travelling with younger ones in tow.

Downstairs you’ll find two excellent places to eat and drink: Joe’s Bar, a chic and intimate Italian wine bar with fantastic drops and a modern Italian menu; and Muse, a restaurant, wine bar and bookstore (which also doubles as the hotel’s breakfast spot). Grab a glass of sensitively curated Australian wine, pull up a bench seat, grab a book and settle in — if you’re lucky, owner Paul might delight with a tickle on the ivories of Muse’s baby grand.

EAST Hotel in Canberra’s trendy inner south really is a home away from home
EAST Hotel in Canberra’s trendy inner south really is a home away from home

REALM PRECINCT, Burbury Close, Barton

It may be deep in the Parliamentary Triangle, but if you’re thinking grey and impersonal about Realm Precinct’s Barton location, you couldn’t be more wrong. In recent years, the precinct - which incorporates three accommodation options: Hotel Realm, Burbury Hotel & Apartments and Little National Hotel - has become a buzzing ‘village’.

While the rooms themselves in all three venues are gorgeous and well appointed, it’s the ‘fruit’ that’s the real attraction. The Chairman & Yip offers elegant contemporary Cantonese; Lilotang boasts refined Japanese fare from a chef with a Nobu pedigree, and a sake bar; Buvette is an elegant French bistro and wine bar; Ostani is a more casual place to unwind (and the wood-fired pizzas are to die for); and Maple + Clove is a clean-eating dream come true.

For keen runners, a friendly group meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:15am at Buvette. Catering to all running levels, the friendly group does a scenic circuit of around 5–6kms through the Parliamentary Triangle and Lake Burley Griffin, before gathering for coffee and a nutritious breakfast afterwards. There are few better ways to get to know the city than on foot and guided by locals.

Add a hair salon, health club, day spa and bike hire into the mix and you have all the ingredients for the perfect stay.

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