Hotel Review: Novotel Canberra is a refined yet playful gem in the heart of the capital

Sitting in the heart of our nation’s capital is the Novotel Canberra, a 7 floor hotel with incredibly spacious rooms that sits alongside Northbourne Avenue, which is currently being outfitted with a new light-rail service.

It was a friendly and easy check in process as I arrived, though the playfulness of the lobby design (especially what you’ll find on its walls), may make the hotel seem less refined than it actually is. This is a hotel full of class, with its rooms at a high level of quality both in design and comfort. You’ll also find a stunning (if surprising) restaurant and beautiful indoor pool, spa and sauna. There’s a gym, and even a balcony if you want to sit and relax outside. And should you need a car for your stay, a Europcar is attached to the hotel.

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It’s a large room, with a low positioned bed that almost gives it the feel of a New York loft; it’s certainly big enough to fool you into thinking it. It’s a bit of a drab colour scheme, but it works to make the space relaxing and comfortable. There’s a wonderful couch you’ll struggle to remove yourself from, with the TV is positioned on the wall opposite and level the bed.

A rather out of place, yet somehow stylish yellow reclining chair sits in the corner of the room. A desk with Ethernet plugs, a lamp, plenty of AC plugs and everything you could need for a business setting sits near the window, which overlooks Canberra’s central Northbourne Avenue, currently under construction. Don’t worry though, you’re not going to hear anything from your hotel room – there’s plenty of sound protection.

The bathroom isn’t as spacious as the bedroom, but it certainly provides you with all you need. You have a phenomenal rain shower, although you can switch the stream to a handheld shower too. The pressure is perfect as is the water temperature. Toiletries are provided by Commerce Équitable for Novotel, with free trade ingredients such as cane sugar for its soap and shower gel, or shea nut for its body lotion and conditioner.

The big, flat screen TV offers the usual free-to-air options plus a few extra Foxtel channels. There’s also an ability to plug in or stream your own device through the TV, though I didn’t get a chance to test this out on my brief stay.

Dilmah tea (including green and chamomile) and coffee is available complimentary in the room with the hot water jug, and there’s milk in the fridge. There are additional items from the minibar available for purchase, while room service is also available courtesy of the recently updated on site restaurant – First Edition. Breakfast buffet is available daily, featuring the usually assortment of dining options. It finishes at 930am on a weekday, 1030am on a weekend.

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During the rest of the day, the restaurant offers a rather interesting menu, particularly at dinner time. When I dined there, my three course meal saw me start with a pair of braised short rib baos ($12), before moving onto American ribs ($36) served in what they called a “Write Your Own Adventure Salad”, which allows you to pair up a main with one of four salads (from the “Roast Peach” to the “Green Goddess”) and some sides. I finished things off with a Blueberry Pannacotta dessert ($16).

It was absolutely packed when I dined there; and being a recently reopened establishment, the restaurant feels as much for the local residents as it is for those staying in the hotel and the vicinity. It’s certainly of a high enough quality to justify the cost – the food was pretty damn delicious, even if it was a bit of a surprising mismatch of cuisines.

The Verdict

I’ve noticed a trend of boutique hotels at the moment in Canberra, and the Novotel is far from that style. But there’s a level of quality and comfort that you can rely on from the Novotel brand, that the Canberra Hotel offers in droves. With large hotel rooms, excellent facilities, and solid food offerings, there’s little not to love about this well positioned hotel in the heart of our nation’s capital.


Getting There

Most domestic carriers fly to Canberra, which even now offers international services to places like Singapore and Qatar. You can also get a bus or a train from Sydney, if you’re not driving. The bus to the airport – and pretty much anywhere else you need to go – can be found at the bus interchange which is just a few minutes away. When there’s a festival in the region, like Spilt Milk or Groovin’ The Moo, chances are you’ll be able to get a bus from there too.

It’ll cost ya $4.90 to get to the airport via bus, or an Uber, pending traffic and surge price, will be about $20. It’s worth mentioning that the Canberra airport has a world first indoor Uber waiting area. Getting to/from the airport takes about 25 minutes by bus, and 10 minutes by car.

The Novotel Canberra is located at 65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra ACT 2601. To book yourself a night, head to their official website or search for it via the booking form below.

The author stayed as a guest of the hotel for one night. Photos by the author unless credited otherwise. The headline photo has been supplied by the hotel 

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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