Founded in 1913, Australia’s capital city of Canberra has only recently started to find its feet. Purposefully created as a political hub, the capital has long been bypassed by travellers for the allure of nearby Sydney. However, those in the know are keeping quiet about the city’s foodie scene, spritely nightlife, expansive vineyards and diverse wildlife. From tours of the National Gallery of Australia and Australian Parliament House to outdoor excursions at Mount Ainslie Lookout, Lake Burley Griffin and Jerrabomberra Wetland, Canberra has something for every type of traveller. If you want in on Australia’s best-kept secret, read on to discover the best hotels and places to stay in Canberra, from design-led gems to Art Deco splendours – all bookable with Culture Trip.
Set in the beating heart of the Australian capital, Midnight Hotel is ideal for exploring the city by foot, with plenty of breweries and coffee shops just outside the door. The hotel’s moniker is fitting: once you step foot into the rooms, sleek dark hues and minimal daylight give a night-time impression. Opt for a suite if you can; you’ll get lost in its deep soaking tub.
With the National Rose Garden just across the way and Lake Burley Griffin next door, the Hyatt Hotel Canberra is perfectly placed to enjoy the city’s natural beauty. Built in 1927 to house visiting politicians, the hotel has a Gatsby-esque vibe enhanced by its Art Deco trimmings. Rooms have muted hues with Italian marble bathrooms, but you’ll only retreat to them when you can pull yourself away from the lulling piano player in the Tea Lounge.
There aren’t many other places where you can watch lions, bears and cheetahs from the comfort of your four-poster bed. Whether you fancy bathing next to a tiger sanctuary, gazing at your in-room shark tank or feeding a giraffe from the comfort of your hotel balcony, Jamala Wildlife Lodge has you covered. It sits inside Canberra’s National Zoo and Aquarium, and those who book overnight stays receive unique experiences, such as an exclusive guided tour.
Burbury’s unassuming facade makes way for one of the sleekest hotels in Canberra. Monochrome is the lay of the land here – expect bright white walls and gleaming black fixtures throughout the hotel’s rooms and expansive one- and two-bedroom apartments. Large windows make the space bright and airy. Be sure to make a beeline for the in-house Asian fusion restaurant, Chairman & Yip, delighting taste buds since 1992.
The sister property to the aforementioned Burbury Hotel and Apartments, Hotel Realm is near the Parliamentary Triangle, which connects the most important political buildings in Canberra. You’ll be greeted by marble floors gleaming from the light, and an airy, three-storey atrium above. Monochromatic rooms offer pillow menus, guaranteeing a good night’s slumber, and the basement health club features a heated lap pool, a sauna and group spin and boxing classes.
Designed in 1926 by John Smith Murdoch, the Commonwealth chief architect who also created the Old Parliament House, Hotel Kurrajong is brimming with old-world Art Deco touches. Home to Australian prime minister Ben Chifley in the 1940s, it features little odes to the capital everywhere, including framed political portraits and rooms named after politicians. If you’re checking in on a Friday afternoon, stop by the Acoustic Friday session, featuring local musicians.
Just 50m (165ft) from Canberra’s airport terminal and a 10-minute drive from the city centre, Vibe Hotel is a brilliant design-led option, whether you’re travelling for business or leisure. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by a soaring atrium and an impressive marble-clad fireplace. Rooms are smart, and many come with waterfall showers and separate tubs. The hotel’s in-house restaurant doubles as an airport lounge, so you won’t need to go far to relax before your flight.
You might expect the moody, dark-metal facade of this hotel to continue indoors, but its interior is anything but drab. A polished lobby gives you a glimpse of the understated, intimate rooms above, where the super-king beds are the obvious stars, illuminated by floor-to-ceiling windows. The high-pressure rain showers are a nice touch, too. Remote workers will appreciate finding a quiet nook in the library where a beverage service is available. Moët & Chandon, anyone?
In the Inner South neighbourhood of Canberra, East Hotel is primed for visiting local parks, swimming pools and coffee shops. Rooms here are generous – most feature full kitchens and spa tubs – while the decor is minimalist but fun, with clashing pops of colour. Bikes are available for hire, but if you’d rather stay close by to eat, the in-house Italian restaurant, Agostinis, makes the best home-made gelato in town.
The one- and two-bedroom apartments at Knightsbridge Canberra feel just like home – that is, if your home happens to have an infinity pool, state-of-the-art gym, and barbecue terrace begging for a cookout. This Canberra boutique hotel also has floor-to-ceiling double-glazed windows, giving you all the natural light you need without ever setting foot on the balcony. You’d do well to make the short walk, though; it’s an unbeatably pleasant place to sip a drink from your minibar.
Nick Dauk contributed additional reporting to this article.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
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1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
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3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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