Canberrans should stay home and spend money locally before heading down the coast when NSW restrictions ease, Chief Minister Andrew Barr says.
So what does a staycation in the capital look like? Here's what some of the hotels are offering for Canberrans looking to holiday at home.
I could tell my six-year-old son was excited about the staycation when he started doing the floss in the hotel lobby. We don't get out much.
Well, we hadn't been anywhere for nearly a year, the bushfires cancelling a holiday to the coast and then COVID-19 confining everyone to their homes.
We were to stay a night at the QT Canberra, as guests of the hotel, and you may as well have told us we were spending a week at Disneyland. We really don't get out much.
The QT was formerly known as Rydges Lakeside, and that's probably the last time I was there, maybe 15 years ago covering year 10 and year 12 formals, as the kids rocked up in their finest, to make the biggest entrance possible, whether in a Mr Whippy van or escorted by a pack of motorcyclists. Those were the days.
The sweeping staircase is still inside but everything else has changed. The QT underwent a $6 million renovation and it shows, everything sleek and funky, the emphasis on the political in the decoration, from the wallpaper to the stationery to the "Wall of Power" where you can pose with a cutout of the latest US president.The glorious dagginess of Bobby McGee's is just a memory.
The development of New Acton across the road has also been good for the QT, offering a fun and interesting neighbourhood to wander through.
And that's what I loved best - we could ditch the car and walk around the city for a change, including straight across a pedestrian bridge to Lake Burley Griffin. We also borrowed a bike from the hotel (they are a bit big for little kids) but you can also try the many Airbikes around the city. My two children and my daughter's friend loved the funkiness of the rooms, being spoilt with room service including Ben and Jerry's with an in-house movie, flying paper planes off our balcony on the 13th floor (we were given a paper-plane-making kit in a welcome pack) and enjoying the spectacular Canberra view, including a hot air balloon floating across the lake in the morning. We really did feel like we'd been away for a week.
An overnight staycation at the QT starts at $152. If you're sick of working from home, you can also indulge and work in luxury for a day, the rooms available from 7am to 7pm, including high-speed Wi-Fi, desk, mini-bar and tea and coffee. See more at qthotels.com
The Kurrajong Hotel
A stay at the Hotel Kurrajong is a stay seeped in the capital's history. Opening in 1926, the hotel was originally home to members of parliament and staff at Old Parliament House. And it's that history which is reflected in its art deco decor.
However, despite its long history, the hotels' staycation package is a new offering.
"We talked to a lot of people who live in an apartment or live somewhere that doesn't have an outdoor area, they are climbing the walls during this isolation period," Hotel Kurrajong general manager Emma Hynes says.
"We figured that we have some beautiful heritage rooms that overlook our garden, so we figured that we'd put something together and it's been really popular."
The package includes a bottle of champagne and chocolate on arrival, as well as an early 12pm check-in and late 2pm check out. Room service breakfast is also included, and there are in house films and popcorn for those who are keen on a movie night.
As for dinner, room service is available from Chifley's Bar and Grill, but guests also have the option to order food delivery from the nearby restaurants.
"While a lot of the world is shut right now, and restrictions put in place, Canberra has got so much to offer - we all know that," Hynes says.
"Through the isolation period, we've had cafes and restaurants doing takeaways, so if we can get people out of their homes doing staycations, they can support those other local businesses and it gets people out and about and feeling like it's not all bad."
See more at hotelkurrajong.com.au.
Wellness is a key part of the Doma Hotel business model, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that it is also a feature in a Hotel Realm staycation.
Before coronavirus restrictions came into place, Doma Hotels - the owner of Realm - was already working on its wellness app.
Utilising the space and trainers at its Hale Gym and Spa to film workouts that guests at the Barton hotel can access during their stay.
"Wellness is one of the central pillars of our hotel business and it just coincided that as we were getting to the tail end of having this developed there was an immediate need for it," Doma director of hotels Patrick Lonergan says.
The app is available to anyone who stays at Hotel Realm, including when it's with one of the staycation packages. The most popular of which has been the Date Night package, which includes a three-course dinner for two, served in the hotel room.
Hotel Realm has also taken the popular high teas from it Burbury Terrace and brought it to the hotel room. What started off as a special Mothers Day, is set to continue for at least the next month.
It's no secret that some people are struggling with the working from home situation that social distancing restrictions have placed on many workplaces.
But a change is as good as a holiday, so they say, and Hotel Realm is offering hotel rooms for hire between 8am and 6pm.
"It was from some feedback that I had from friends who had been working from home and had younger kids and they were struggling a bit to get a proper days work in. This was just to break it up - it wasn't to replace their office five days a week," Lonergan says.
See more at hotelrealm.com.au.
The East Hotel
East Hotel is on a mission to help Canberrans stay sane during the coronavirus restrictions. The Kingston hotel has packages for both couples and families to help unwind during these trying times.
For its Stay Sane couples package, Canberrans can spend the night in one of the 63 square-metre apartments, complete with a pizza voucher for the hotel's restaurant Agostinis. For the family Stay Sane package, there's plenty of room for everyone in a two-bedroom apartment and a voucher for two of Agostinis' pizzas. And to keep everyone entertained there are three TVs in the apartment, and books and games available if needed.
"I think it's a great experience to be able to stay somewhere else in your city and see things a little bit differently and explore a local area of Canberra that you might not be that familiar with," East Hotel director of relationships Destina Cramer says.
"You feel like you've had a holiday without going anywhere. If you are short on time, it's a great way to reset for a couple of days without having to have the additional expenses of travel."
Like a lot of Canberra hotels, staycation packages weren't on East Hotel's radar until travel restrictions came into play.
"We didn't really do that as a package prior to coronavirus but given the current market, we were obviously trying to get creative and look at who would actually looking to use our accommodation, seeing as everyone else wasn't travelling and it was really just left out with our local market," Cramer says.
"We've been lucky in that we've been really supported in the local market and that's been amazing, definitely within the hotel and at Agostinis. The amount of takeaway that we have done has been phenomenal. That's a lot of pizza."
See more at easthotel.com.au.
There's something kind of dark and sexy about Midnight Hotel. Even the name conjures up a stay that is luxurious, perhaps a little mysterious. From the stylish lobby to the variety of suites available, you'll soon forget you're actually in the middle of Braddon, at a stop on the light rail.
"A myriad of hand-picked and highly curated partnerships enhance the overall guest experience," says Kristy Hodder, from Iconic Hotels, who manage Midnight.
"There is a range of local collaborations Canberrans will appreciate, such as local industrial designer, René Linssen's creation of the polished brass bottle openers, which are located in guests' rooms for use during their stay."
Indeed, design is at the forefront, with acute attention to detail, bespoke art in each suite and rotating collections throughout the hotel.
Midnight is currently offering a staycation package loaded with luxury, featuring one night's accommodation in a spacious Midnight junior suite, complete with a large ensuite boasting a walk-in rain shower and bath. A bottle of complimentary sparkling on arrival will set the mood for the evening; yet the bubbles don't stop there, with Australian skincare specialists, Hunter Lab, providing all natural, no nasties bubbles for the tub.
All suites include a complimentary mini-bar, complete with local wine from Nick O'Leary and Long Rail Gully, boutique beer from neighbouring micro-brewery, BentSpoke Brewing Co., non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. Further enhancing the local escape experience is the inclusion of unlimited Staycast streaming, late check out, complimentary parking, and freshly baked croissants with jam for in-room breakfast. Guests also have the option to add dinner to their stay, with an exceptional in-room dining menu available to choose from, prepared and delivered to guests' doors by the team at Braddon Merchant.
The hotel will also be launching a range of new packages including a winter themed one for couples and a family focused offering. See more at midnighthotel.com.au.
The fire is crackling as we enter our room at Ovolo Nishi, as guests of the hotel. It's a video of a fire burning on the TV but it creates a very cosy, romantic atmosphere.
"This is yours for the night," says our host, Marcellus. "Look around and get settled."
The Ovolo Nishi was quick to pivot its business to fit within the coronavirus restrictions, offering an intimate dining experience in its rooms.
We take our coats off and get settled. We've dressed up for the occasion. It's a huge novelty to be eating a meal not in trackies while sitting on the couch. We sync a phone to the speakers and press play on a mellow dinner playlist.
The harsh, clean lines of the concrete walls are offset by bright and fuzzy 1970s-inspired furniture. The bed is cleverly tucked away in a wardrobe for the night. A table for two is set up on the balcony. It's enclosed and cosy, with Black Mountain in full view as the sun sets.
With a glass of bubbles under our belt, the first course arrives. Each plate is a celebration of produce at its best, with a touch of theatre at the table. Our first course, beetroot carpaccio, is dusted with goats cheese snow by our host. The following dishes are equally vibrant in flavour and presentation - sesame tuna tataki, fish of the day and wagyu short rib. Marcellus heats ganache on the stove in the room before pouring it over the decadent chocolate pecan pudding for dessert.
It's different dining with just two people. It's wonderfully intimate but also more relaxed. We sit on the sofa between meals and share a slow dance or two. We finish the night with a cheese plate on the couch - not that it's needed after a plentiful menu.
For a couple, the Restaurant in Room experience will set you back $219 for three courses or $289 for five courses. Add an overnight stay or matching drinks for an extra fee. Since restrictions were lifted Monster is taking bookings for four to 10 people for dinner only.
It's a decadent treat, but after all we've been through this year, don't we deserve it?
See more at ovolohotels.com.