A Designer's Guide to Canberra by Leah Hill


So my favourite Graphic Designer in the whole wide world, Leah Hill is our guest blogger today.  She candidly tells us all about a recent romantic, kid free getaway to Hotel Hotel in Canberra.  So grab a cuppa and resist smiling as you get immersed in Leah's unique and creative writing style not to mention all the amazingness Canberra has to offer!
xx L.

My husband (let’s call him Jeff because that’s his name) is annoyingly good at organising surprises. Don’t get me wrong - the thought of a wonderfully romantic surprise definitely excites, but unfortunately I’m one of those people that likes to know what’s happening, at what time, at what location and who’s going to be there and what will I need to wear....etc, etc. So you could say organising a surprise for me can be quite challenging! 

The day of my birth arrives and Jeff takes me into our spare room where there is a small suitcase on the floor. With a puzzled look I opened the suitcase (literally thinking this was his new form of giftwrap, one up from the usual invisible wrap) and there is a letter inside saying “Fill Me - destination 9-19°C”. 

We leave the very next day and as we’re driving in a southerly direction, I’m certain I’ve got it all sussed and we were heading towards the Southern Highlands to eat and shop ourselves silly at the little antique stores. Jeff hands me a nicely bound folder full of information on our destination. I’m flicking through the booklet and my eye catches the bottom of every page, “Visit Canberra”.....huh Canberra? As in Parliament House and the War Memorial and a bunch of massive roundabouts (no offence ACT dwellers, this story gets better I promise). Not really the destination that first sprung to mind when I thought “child-free getaway” but I was just happy to get out of Sydney for something different. 

Driving into Canberra puts me instantly in relaxation mode. There’s zero traffic and every street is lined with the prettiest of Autumn maple trees with their flaming red leaves. I’m keeping an eye out for hotels, wondering where we will be spending the next 2 nights, and we pull up to a tiny little driveway of a place called “Hotel Hotel”. I’m thinking it’s just another cheap chink in the accommodation chain, but boy I have never been more wrong! 

Walking into the foyer is like walking into a warmly-lit, extravagantly designed cave. There is a gas fire sitting in a layered concrete wall surrounded by comfy cushions right in front of the reception desk. There is also an open library full of every creative publication imaginable where the furniture and fittings look as though they were crafted specifically for that space....and this all hits my eyeballs before we even check in. They have a saying written on the reception door which says “A place for people people” - love it!! 

We get our room keys and the concierge shows us up to our room which he explains is the staff favourite, called “The Meandering Room”. I cannot explain the awesome-ness of this hotel room. Everything from the glassware in the kitchenette to the furniture to the art on the wall - everything is specifically curated for Hotel Hotel from Australian designers. The room exudes a warm ambience that literally wraps around you making you feel like you are supposed to dwell here for the remainder of your days. And the bathroom...ahhh just devine. A deep concrete bath sits in the middle of the massive room and behind that is a huge double shower with some seriously good pressure shower heads. You honestly couldn’t ask for more. 

The Hotel Hotel itself is located in the Nishi Building within the New Acton Precinct, where there are numerous pockets of goodness including: 

A. Baker - bakery + restaurant 

Močan & Green Grout - lush cafe with fairtrade coffee + locally sourced produce. 

The Nishi Gallery - a small gallery space used for exhibitions and events and the Courtyard Cinema - in the summer months only 

As we dined on some yummy lunch at the Hotel Hotel restaurant, we asked the waiter where we could go for a spot of boutique shopping. There is the Westfield which is quite newly built with all the high-end designer stores, although we were after something different. The Lonsdale Street Traders was the answer - a vacant warehouse transformed into a temporary space for eclectic, independant small businesses including fashion, homewares, art, a florist, cafe and a hairdresser! 

It’s like a small fragment of Melbourne has popped up in Lonsdale Street and it completely rocks! 

Canberra seems to be suddenly transforming into a suprisingly well-rounded holiday for all types of groups - whether you love the galleries, the high quality coffee + food choices, vintage homeware shopping in Lonsdale Street or Questacon with the kiddies - it’s all here and it’s all fabulous!

Leah Hill Creative
Hotel Hotel
New Action
A. Baker
Mocan and Green Grout
Nishi Gallery
Lonsdale Street Traders