Don’t expect your average CBD accommodation experience, East Hotel is outside the box.
East Hotel is a family-owned boutique hotel that is one of the best places to stay in the nation’s capital. As soon as you walk in the door you’re engulfed by its ‘edgy’ feel, and the location is perfect for those who want the best of the city (almost) on their doorstep. Here’s our East Hotel Canberra review, so you know what to expect.
The first thing you notice when you enter the soaring central atrium in the lobby of the family-run East Hotel is the warmth and ambience.
This is not just a place to go to have a good meal and rest your head. By stepping into the lobby of East Hotel you’re being welcomed into the embrace of your long-lost, somewhat eccentric Italian family with a big theatrical kiss on both cheeks.
The receptionist will welcome you with a warm smile.
Kelly Ross of Kelly Ross Designs recently reimagined some of the places and spaces within the East Hotel and in doing so further realised the vision of owners Dan and Dion Bisa. The boutique hotel feels like somewhat of a passion project for Kelly, who has been working alongside the Bisa’s from the beginning.
A stunning chandelier hangs from the ceiling of the hotel lobby.
While the lobby has always had a lot of warmth to it, Kelly has taken Dan and Dion’s design cues to the next level. The rejuvenated reception and soaring lobby space is all warm tones, moody lighting, modern furnishings, sumptuous textures and colour. It’s a place for guests to mingle and relax. A place to have fun in, as the obligatory lolly jar and Mac desktop at reception suggest.
The room has a spacious and cosy interior.
The lobby has evolved in line with the award-winning designer’s brief to create a space that is now a venue more intertwined with the hotel’s existing places and spaces.
Spend your idle time reading books at the Muse library. (Image: Visit Canberra)
It spills into the neighbouring cafe bookshop, Muse, and there’s a small library of magazines inviting people to stop and relax while lingering in the lobby. There’s also an open fire where visitors and guests can kick back before or after dinner.
Pop by the restaurant at Muse for dinner. (Image: Visit Canberra)
It’s a thoughtful touch to provide guests with a handy guide at check-in that details the surrounding area (the lively ‘inner-South’, aka suburban Manuka and Kingston) and the best local eats and activities. Bikes for hire and maps are also available from reception.
The hotel evokes a contemporary feel.
The style of the room
I could not have been happier with my luxe one-bedroom apartment during my last stay in Canberra. There is something enormously luxurious about an apartment that is flooded with light and sunshine. The apartment is also pleasantly spacious, with its own fully equipped open-plan kitchen and living area, separate bedroom, and bathroom.
East Hotel Canberra comes with an open-plan living room.
The plush carpet and occasional pop of colour in a throw rug or cushion made the self-contained room feel warm, homely, and inviting. It’s like visiting your cool cousin’s crash pad in Milan. Here, every fixture and fitting has been carefully thought out. The room feels like an extension from the lobby; it’s textured and layered and elegant. The large balcony looks out over parks and mountains, and we step outside to the constant sound of cockatoos, screeching in regular crescendos.
Rest easy on the comfy bed.
My Friday night started with a long soak in a large, oversized Jacuzzi bathtub ahead of a fairly hectic schedule of work over the weekend. It’s a ritual that continues over the next few days after I discover the Appelles Ginger Lily Bath Salts are replenished daily.
Add Appelles Ginger Lily Bath Salts to your warm bath.
Equally exciting was discovering the full-size washing machine and dryer (a long working week will do that to you), complete with washing powder. The kitchen was so well equipped – from the large Smeg oven to the steak knives – that my friend and I almost (but not quite) considered cooking up a storm the next morning rather than head out for breakfast.
Freshen up before going to bed.
Restaurants and food available
Canberra is spoilt for choice when it comes to great breakfast and brunch spots. Muse, located on the ground floor, is one of them and it’s the perfect example of how cool, cosmopolitan and sophisticated the nation’s capital has become. It’s also one of the most popular places to breakfast and brunch in Canberra.
Get your brunch fix at Muse. (Image: Visit Canberra)
It was nearly impossible to leave the apartment with its comfortable couch, bathrobes and a bottle of red. But we managed to gather the energy required to roll downstairs for some pasta at the Italian restaurant Agostinis, which is perennially packed to the rafters.
Nab a spot for some pasta at Agostinis.
Although there are plenty of too-cool-for-school places in Canberra, Agostinis is not one of them. In fact, the Italian restaurant is always crammed with a happy mix of families, couples and groups celebrating special occasions. Kelly Ross Designs has also gifted the community with Il Camino (which translates to the chimney’), which is like a sidecar to Agostinis.
Il Camino is a perfect venue for private functions.
The room is available for private dining, and it’s a luxe warm space from which to do business or pleasure. Executive chef Francesco Balestrieri leads by example and his passion for Italian food is evident in the consistently great execution of each dish. Many of the wait staff have Italian accents, which adds to the family-friendly feeling. It’s like going to Nonna’s for gnocchi.
Everything from the pasta to the gelato is made in-house, and we find ourselves ordering pizza as well; the dough is Roman-style and rested for 72 hours.
Have a tipple at Joe’s Bar.
Despite the hotel’s location in the suburbs, the adjacent Joe’s Bar seemed to also attract a large mix of locals. Sweeping chain curtains, retro leather lounges and Old Fashioned cocktails served in smoking glasses, proved it had earned its place as the local date spot.
Cap off the week with a celebratory toast at Joe’s Bar.
East Hotel sits in the city’s inner south, an easy 10 minutes from the airport and five to 10 minutes’ drive from the Parliamentary Triangle. Corporate travellers will find it close to the city but far enough out of the bustle to allow a breath of fresh air.
Wander with your kids around the National Museum of Australia. (Image: Visit Canberra)
The surrounding affluent, leafy suburbs of Manuka and Kingston are known for their dining and shopping scene, with patisseries, wine bars, homeware stores and the occasional pub lining the streets. The award-winning Old Bus Depot Markets are within close walking distance, while the lake (with its popular walking circuit) can be reached in 10 to 15 minutes.
Catch amusing performances at Questacon. (Image: Visit Canberra)
For families, Canberra institutions Questacon, Old Parliament House and the National Museum are easily accessible by bike – these are available to hire from reception. Ubers are affordable and frequent, and the hotel offers underground parking charged at a $10 per night fee for those with a car.
The Old Parliament House is home to the Museum of Australian Democracy. (Image: Tourism Australia)
Following a long night of negronis and pasta, the first thing I did the following morning was head to the gym. It was small but efficient, with shower facilities (complete with Appelles amenities) available for those who may have already checked out.
There is no hotel pool – in warmer months, guests can visit the nearby Art Deco Manuka Pool for free. The heritage-listed complex dates back to 1930 and was the first pool in Canberra.
Bed down at East Hotel Canberra.
Families with young kids can request an apartment with a Kids Cubby – an interconnecting playroom fitted out with bunk beds, bean bags, a play table with art supplies, building blocks and even an Xbox console. The minibar is (dangerously) stocked with child-friendly goodies.
A communal laundry is available for those staying in studio rooms (just ask for washing powder at reception) and eight conference and meeting spaces are available for business travellers. Wi-fi is fast and free.
There’s even a space to work on with your laptop.
Make the East Hotel your home away from home in Canberra. Book a Luxe Apartment or Studio for the spa tub and added ‘luxe’ feel.
East Hotel Canberra is an ideal place to stay in the city.
We rated: The secret-recipe popcorn at Joe’s Bar. You’ll
We’d change: Our plans for Christmas and hire out Il Camino for a small family gathering.
Where: 69 Canberra Ave, Kingston ACT 2604
Read our ultimate travel guide to Canberra for more on where to eat, stay and what to do while you’re there.