Hotels

Review: East Hotel embodies Canberra’s cultural resurgence

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Canberra has been enjoying a cultural resurgence over the past few years.

In fact, we think it’s fair to say our small-yet-mighty capital may even be having a moment.

During a recent weekend sojourn in the ACT, I was surprised to find buzzy city streets, eye-catching natural spaces, and an impressive foodie scene– a far cry from the boredom of childhood road trips that took place longer ago than I care to admit.

East Hotel embodies the renewed energy and style of Australia’s capital city, presenting an elegant yet quirky base for rediscovering iconic national attractions and emerging cultural institutions.

Since opening its doors in 2012, the hotel has been perched at the forefront of Canberra’s design and lifestyle accommodation offering, creating a space that feels comfortable, sophisticated and a little bit edgy.

Location

The hotel is situated between the suburban Manuka and Kingston neighbourhoods, about a five-minute walk from award-winning cafes, boutique shopping, a cinema and several highly rated dining venues.

The CBD and national attractions Canberra is known for are only a short drive away, or a leisurely cycle on the hotel’s free bikes for those feeling motivated.

First impression 

Having unveiled a revamp of its lobby around a year ago, East Hotel welcomes guests with a glamourous space filled with plush furnishings and moody lighting beneath an imposing central atrium.

East Hotel’s recently revamped lobby

From the imagination of owner Dion Bisa and executed by designer Kelly Ross, the hotel’s public spaces are an eccentric mix of texture and light that is appealing to behold and calming to the senses.

In Bisa’s own words; “Kelly is never standard and never on-trend – she creates trend.”

The room

The appropriately named Luxe One Bedroom Apartment is, for lack of a better word, luxe

My lodgings for the weekend was the appropriately named Luxe One Bedroom Apartment, featuring a separate bedroom, light-filled living area, balcony and bathroom complete with a spa bathtub, a fully functional kitchen and laundry facilities.

A continuation of the bold design of the hotel’s public spaces, the room was packed with luxurious touches like Appelles Apothecary amenities (including fragrant bath salts for the tub), a cosy king-sized bed, Nespresso pod-style espresso machine, loads of cooking utensils and TVs in both the living room and bedroom with pay-per-view movies.

The perfect sanctuary for a relaxing weekend away or a well-equipped base for a family getaway (rollaway beds are available on request), the apartment is, as the name suggests, ‘luxe’ to say the least.

Food and beverage options

Agostinis is an Italian family affair at heart

After mustering the initiative to leave my comfy quarters, I was pleasantly surprised to find East’s food offering includes an authentic Italian restaurant complete with fresh pasta made daily and homemade gelato.

A celebration of family at its heart, Agostinis is an homage to Dion’s mother and her love for simple Italian food, sharing the name of a bar owned by her family in northern Italy before they migrated to Australia.

With a seasonal menu crafted by Roman chef Francesco Balestrieri centring fresh produce, Agostinis is a favourite among locals as well as guests so we recommend booking ahead.

Agostinis’ delicioius panna cotta alla vaniglia, part of its autumn menu

For those who fancy a nightcap, Joe’s Bar is just across the lobby and offers an intimate setting to sip classic cocktails or choose from a specially curated wine list. Much like the rest of East Hotel, Joe’s boho-esque interior is well designed and packed with quirk.

For breakfast, (or –after a night on the negronis at Joe’s Bar– brunch) Muse is a contemporary cafe-meets-book store situation with a delightful atmosphere and delicious menu to boot.

Extras/good to know

There are loads of thoughtful facilities available, including free bike hire, a small gym and a dedicated guest experience team on hand to offer tips and advice for exploring your local surrounds.

As a family-owned and operated business, East also offers designated kids’ rooms with specially built cubbies, bunk beds, play tables, XBoxes and kids minibars.

Parking is also available at $10 a night.

Conclusion and rating

East Hotel is a well-curated boutique hotel separate from the bustle of Canberra’s CBD but close enough to still enjoy a day out or a night on the town without the stress of a long trip home.

With enviable public spaces, a food and beverage offering on par with the capital city’s uber-popular foodie scene, and comfortable, well equipt rooms we give it an easy nine out of 10.



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