For my latest Canberra sojourn my digs were a luxe apartment inside the East Hotel. Sitting right on the border between Kingston and Manuka, this purpose-built medium sized hotel popped up in 2012.
If, like me, you’re an architecture buff who hates ugly buildings, I reckon you’re going to like East Hotel's simple glass and concrete form that blends in nicely with the surrounding medium density housing.
In terms of location, most of Canberra appears to be a fifteen-minute drive from any other part of Canberra, which is pretty much an affordable, under twenty buck cab or Uber ride. Kingston is famed for its foreshore, with restaurants, cafes and attractions like Canberra Glassworks, and the Old Bus Depot Markets that runs every Sunday.
The hub of the East Hotel is an attractively designed lobby, with bright, contemporary colours, and multi-floor projections.
There’s a range of reading materials and seating options to enjoy them in; a pair of Macs for guest use; and cute little touches, like glass jars of lollies that sensibly get taken away at dinner time.
With underground parking, an all-day diner and bookshop called Muse: Food, Wine & Books, a bar called Joe’s Bar, and an Italian restaurant, Agostinis doing everything from pizza to steak to an elaborate chef’s table experience, you can end your Canberra road trip as soon as you park your car.
There’s even a pub and bottle-shop across the road, if you don’t feel like drinking the carefully selected Collector wines, you’ll find upstairs in your 4½-star serviced apartment.
Walking in through the door of our fifth-floor luxe apartment (from $249/night) you can immediately see the East Hotel is attempting to shake off the boring label that has dogged Canberra for as long as I can remember.
Wire-framed orange outdoor chairs are as eye-catching as the expansive view.
Inside there are matching orange cushions, a magenta statement chair, and a blue velour side table.
Even the art is contemporary, with the desk nook topped by a band-inspired piece that features everyone from the Meat Puppets to Joan Jett.
The apartment is spacious, with a compact kitchen that has everything you’ll need to cook your own dinner and eat it at a small dining table.
Opening the cupboards, you’ll even find a discretely stashed washing machine and dryer. The bathroom has a bath, plus separated shower and toilet, all kitted out with Appelles Apothecary & Lab products that you can buy full-size in the lobby if you happen to fall in love.
The bedroom is cosy, lending itself both to summer (with air conditioning) and winter, with a colourful fluffy throw and a 32-inch LED television you can watch in bed.
The king-sized bed has lovely crisp linen and a super-soft bed topper that, when combined with airy pillows, saw me sink in for an excellent sleep.
Waking up to a delicately painted mauve and orange-hued dawn sky with a hot air balloon floating by was priceless.
And finally, while there isn’t a hotel pool onsite, a quick flash of your room key will give you free access to Manuka Swimming Pool, a five-minute walk from the East Hotel.
Opened back in 1931, Canberra’s first public pool is an Art Deco delight with a ‘last output of Empire’ vibe.
It’s deep too, down at the deep end, nine feet in the Imperial measure, so diving (and even bombing) is allowed. It was a nice place to hang out in the sunshine, without having to get back into our car before the three hour drive back home to Sydney.
69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston ACT
Ph: (02) 6295 6925