So good they named it twice

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - JU­DITH ELEN

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.

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