There are flashier hotels in Canberra — and definitely hipper ones — but few can match the low-key Hyatt for glamour. Here are five reasons to make it your base in the national capital.
If you thought all the dastardly plots in Australia’s political history were hatched at Parliament House (or nearby Chinese restaurants), you weren’t in the lobby of the ‘Hotel Canberra’ in its heyday. Amid an almost permanent fug of cigar smoke, deals were done, affairs were begun and political downfalls plotted. Labour Prime Minister James Scullin and his wife moved into the hotel in 1929 to ride out The Great Depression—saving the expense of living in The Lodge.
Built near the banks of Lake Burley Griffin in the prairie style made famous by seminal American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, 90 years after it opened its doors the hotel still has the understated look and feel of a country estate. The hallways are vast and light, the rooms unfashionably roomy and the outlook relentlessly green. Throw open those French doors and breathe!
High Tea in the lobby
In an era of plaid shirts and single-origin coffee, it’s odd – and oddly refreshing – to see frocked up locals (and a smattering of hotel guests) sipping tea under oblong chandeliers and queuing for a buffet groaning with macaroons, fruit tarts and cucumber sandwiches. Weekend high tea at the Hyatt is a Canberra institution. The tinkling grand piano only adds to the magic.
Walk to New Acton
Lace up your runners, turn left outside the hotel, and crossing the bridge over Lake Burley Griffin, make your way to New Acton, home to an exciting array of cafes and restaurants, outdoor art and the quirky Hotel Hotel. On the 2.5km walk, scratch your head at the ramshackle jumble of blue and yellow shipping containers and cyclone fencing that looks like the aftermath of a Bon Jovi concert, but is, in fact, the new Westside Acton village, home to arts and crafts markets, sporting events, concerts, food vans and bars (and the odd bewildered tourist).
The best hotel gym in Canberra
Leave the hotel through the back entrance, cross the road and discover one of the largest hotel gyms in the country. Hotels guests can work out for free or join group classes that include yoga, boxing and Pilates — and water aerobics in the gym’s 16-metre swimming pool. The gym is also open to the public, which, in Canberra invariably means politicians and their staffers. Sweat is the new cigar smoke.