So good they named it twice
Canberra has not been renowned for its village life but things sure are changing. NewActon is a tiny enclave, but it has a cosy, quirky vibe and much that could keep you happy for a sustained stay, right at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin and just 1km from Canberra CBD.
At the heart of NewActon is the Nishi Building, which was awarded International Project of the Year at London’s 2015 Building Awards, judged on design, sustainability and arts involvement. At the heart of the Nishi Building is Hotel Hotel, where all is spacious, sexy and comfortable. As you ascend the building’s vast stairway, the hotel opens like a magic flower in water. Hotel Hotel has street-level access at the opposite corner of its spreading ground floor, but “The Grand Stairway” is a stunner. The wide steps, ceiling and walls are layered with salvaged and restored timber in warm tones, like giant splinters, admitting filtered light as if in a rainforest. Below the stairs, at street level on this side of the building, are other Nishi elements, including a cinema complex and Max Brenner cafe.
The hotel’s ground floor, nearly matching the building’s footprint, is intimate but welcoming, with areas for cosying up. Flickering open gas fires are surrounded by deep lounges, there’s a bar area, a small “library”, and the excellent Monster Kitchen and Bar with its own internal spaces. Reception and concierge are tucked away and lift lobbies occupy side corners.
Natural materials — concrete, timber, cork, rendered clay and natural-fibre wallpapers — define public spaces and guestrooms. There are patchwork walls of ceramic tiles, fabric wall hangings, original art, restored vintage furniture, evocative found objects and an atrium lush with tree ferns.
Sixty-eight guestrooms (from 18sq m to 65sq m) move upwards in categories from Cosy or Original to Creative or Meandering, with a small range within each style. All have complimentary Wi-Fi, airconditioning, doubleglazed opening windows, automatic blockout blinds, stylish furnishings, Aesop toiletries and views over lake,
In the Nishi complex: eight-screen Palace Electric Cinema (with prosecco and coffee bars); Max Brenner cafe; other good cafes and A Baker nearby. In the hotel: gym (24-hour access with room pass), twice-weekly yoga sessions (free for guests), bi-monthly life-drawing classes. Step out for a stroll to Questacon, National Library, National Gallery, Portrait Gallery. A few minutes’ drive to Italian & Sons (Braddon).
No slippers provided (but linen bathrobes are lightweight and lovely). With everything accessible on bedside touch screens, the less technically adept might appreciate explanatory paperwork.
You need never leave the building. And Wilson Parking is in the complex, with overnights from $25.