Australian Hotels Association awards honour Canberra's best restaurants, bars and hotels

Australian Hotels Association awards honour Canberra's best restaurants, bars and hotels

Canberra's hospitality industry appears to be thriving more than ever, as it celebrated a record number of entries to the ACT Australian Hotels Association awards on Monday night.

Brian Smith was honoured three times at the annual awards, taking away the John Press award for his two venues Hopscotch in Braddon and Young & Frisky in Gungahlin, while Hopscotch also co-won the best pub bistro with The Meating Room in Weston Creek..

Award winning: Hopscotch Bar co-owners Brian Smith and Nick Parkinson.

Award winning: Hopscotch Bar co-owners Brian Smith and Nick Parkinson.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Mr Smith said he was shocked to win the John Press award, given to the most outstanding industry leader, but put it down to great service, adaptability and confidence.

"You have to evolve and chance with the industry or things become stale," he said.

Hopscotch Bar owners Brian Smith, and Nick Parkinson.

Hopscotch Bar owners Brian Smith, and Nick Parkinson.Credit:Jamila Toderas

"I think we were just a little bit different to other places, we really want to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable."

East Hotel on Canberra Avenue was another standout winner, taking away four of the 30 awards.

East Hotel general manager Todd Handy said he was honoured the hotel had been considered the best marketed hotel and best suite/apartment hotel, while Joe's Bar inside the hotel won best new/redeveloped venue and its chef Barsha Rai was awarded best apprentice chef.

"To win these awards is fantastic and a recognition of people who do all of the day-to-day work," Mr Handy said.

"The industry here is run by clever and forward-thinking groups and I think sometimes they sell themselves short in their potential of bringing people to Canberra."

Hotel Hotel in NewActon also did well, winning the best deluxe (5-star) hotel with Jamala Wildlife Lodge and best hotel restaurant along with Monster Kitchen and Bar in Civic.

London Circuit venues Bar Rochford and Molly won the best cocktail bar, Pomegranate in Kingston was awarded the best restaurant while the best sporting venue went to neighbouring pub, The Dock.

Canberra's hospitality industry was facing an increasingly tough business environment in 2014, when then AHA ACT general manager Brad Watts said it had been a difficult year.

But the current manager, Jo Broad, said the impressive range of innovative newcomers and well-established venues changed things.

"It was definitely the most entries we've ever had to the awards, which is a testament to the industry," she said.

"It really is exciting times and I think the growth that we've seen in the past couple of years will continue."

2016 AHA ACT Hospitality Award winners:

John Press Award

Brian Smith, Hopscotch and Young & Frisky

Member of the Year

Tarn Morrow, QT Canberra

Best Restaurant Service Employee (Accom)

Dharmesh Panvelkar, Crowne Plaza Canberra

Best Restaurant Service Employee (Gen)

Dexter Nathis, Black Fire Restaurant

Best Restaurant Cookery Employee

Nikhi Jain, National Convention Centre

Best Apprentice Chef

Barsha Rai, Joe's Bar East Hotel

Best Front of House Employee

Indigo Collins, Crowne Plaza Canberra

Madison Groom, Doma Hotels

Best Hotel Restaurant

Monster Kitchen & Bar, Hotel Hotel

Best Cocktail Bar

Bar Rochford


Best Wine List


Best Café Restaurant

The District

Best Restaurant


Best Bar Presentation and Service


Best Meetings and Events Hotel (Accomm)

Hyatt Hotel Canberra

Best Meetings and Events Venue (Gen)

National Convention Centre

Best New/Redeveloped Venue (Accomm)

Little National Hotel

Best New/Redeveloped Venue (Gen)

Joe's Bar

Best Marketed Hotel

East Hotel

Best Environmental Practice

Crowne Plaza Canberra

Best Late Night Entertainment Venue


Best Live Entertainment Venue

Transit Bar

Best Sporting Entertainment Venue

The Dock

Best TAB Licensed Venue

Ducks Nuts Bar & Grill

Best Local

The George Harcourt Inn

Best Pub Bistro


Meating Room

Outstanding Community Service & Achievement

Crowne Plaza Canberra

Best Suite/Apartment Hotel

East Hotel

Best Mid-Range Accommodation (3-3.5 Star)

The Brassey Hotel

Best First Class Accommodation (4 Star)

Little National Hotel

Best Superior Accommodation (4.5 Star)

QT Canberra

Best Deluxe Accommodation (5 Star)


Hotel Hotel

Jamala Wildlife Lodge

Clare Sibthorpe is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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