NewActon's latest accommodation offering isn't really a hotel in the traditional sense of the word – forget generic landscapes on the walls and bored businessmen at the breakfast buffet – it's a vessel for delivering arts and culture, and a place for adventurous people who are looking to explore somewhere different.
Housed within the Nishi building, a relatively new but already iconic addition to the Canberra landscape, Hotel Hotel has 68 unique rooms that come in three different sizes – original, creative and meandering.
"The hotel reflects our love for domesticity, the curious, the well-made and the comfortable," co-founder Nectar Efkarpidis says.
"Some highlights include bespoke furniture commissions, restored furniture, and carefully chosen artworks and objects. The emphasis is on art, makers, and making the everyday interesting."
Efkarpidis, who founded the hotel with his brother Johnathan, explains that the hotel was founded on three main principles, the first being that the hotel should reflect our nation with a uniquely Australian aesthetic.
"We've thought about it from an Australian perspective and created a local typology rather than borrowing an American or European vernacular," he says.
The rooms are inspired by the look and feel of a traditional Australian bush shack, with predominantly raw and natural fibres including salvaged oak beds and textured clay walls reminiscent of corrugated iron.
Hotel Hotel's second principle is working with artists – the entire place was created as a collaboration between 56 artists, makers and designers.
Efkarpidis worked closely with the hotel's aesthetic curator, filmmaker Don Cameron, to commission artists and makers to create a range of objects, both decorative and functional, for all the rooms and public spaces in Hotel Hotel.
"We're different from the standard boutique art hotel," Hotel Hotel general manager Tracy Atherton says.
"We don't just display artworks in the rooms and public places. We have worked with artists, makers and designers to actually make this place.
"From the crockery to the water jugs to the robes and even the bins in the bathrooms – they have all been made using local skill rather than being mass-produced items bought off the shelf in factory volumes."
The water glasses and jugs are some of the most eye-catching functional pieces used throughout the hotel, made by artists Amos Enders and Wade Briggs from recycled beer and wine bottles.
Enders' and Brigg's artistic philosophy of reuse fits in perfectly with that of Hotel Hotel, which has incorporated a number of design elements to reduce its environmental impact. All the rooms contain large bottles of Aesop bath products rather than small, disposable ones, all cleaning is done without chemicals and there are sensor lights installed in the rooms to save energy.
The third principle of Hotel Hotel is what Efkarpidis describes as "the philosophy of public occupation".
"We've designed the hotel in such a way that isn't just for guests and for commercial users – it's for everyone to come and enjoy," he says.
Entering via the grand staircase in the Nishi foyer, visitors to the hotel are immediately met with a visual feast – a huge stack of vintage suitcases, a light installation floating above geometric tables, and the hotel's functional art collection inspired by Canberra's original designers Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin.
"In the foyer, the bar and lounge at the moment are becoming a bit of a gathering place for creative types, but we have university students, business people, people that work in the neighbouring offices, and of course art and design lovers," Atherton says.
"We think of the bar and lounge as a public space for everyone, like a public fountain where you can just sit about or meet up with friends."
Hotel Hotel's bar Deadset is up and running, serving breakfast from 7am and offering an extensive range of cocktails and an all-day menu of light snacks with a focus on ingredients from local farmers. There is a quaint outdoor garden, a library stocked with art and design books, and commercial spaces that include a pop-up shop housing vintage clothing sellers and local designers preparing for Fashfest.
In winter patrons will be able to gather around a huge indoor fireplace, and the hotel's kitchen will be fully functional in March, so foodies can expect an even more elaborate and delicious menu to come.
A: 25 Edinburgh Avenue, NewActon
P: 6287 6287
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