Punk not posh - Hotel Hotel, Canberra

Hotel Hotel’s principles are substantially different to your average hotel. Shunning the blandness typically found in big international hotels, the newly opened Canberra venture put creativity at the top of its priority list. Original architecture, art and design were the starting point but the result is not grandiose but a mix of spectacular and human in equal measure. Old and new, rough and smooth, kitsch and cool - it's all here.  

 The entrance reveals the hotel's use of recycled industrial materials and repurposed furniture pieces. 

The entrance reveals the hotel's use of recycled industrial materials and repurposed furniture pieces. 

“We prefer punk to posh. We aren’t at home surrounded by just the new, shiny or white. We like textures and patinas that remind us of the bush, big trees, well-worn t-shirts and weathered old men”. 

From the Hotel Hotel website

After a three year collaboration with architects Fender Katsalidis, Japanese architecture practice, Suppose Design Office and a long list of Australian designers and makers, Hotel Hotel opened its doors in early 2014. It is a total reinvention of the hotel model. The preference for personality over pretension is evident in everything from the unadorned concrete shell to the recycled timber interior elements by March Studio. Found objects, reused furniture and carefully considered accessories all form part of the energetic and friendly mix. 

 March Studio's 'Grand Stair' continues the extensive use of timber found on the Nishi building's eastern facade. The staircase joins the  commercial section to the residential building that houses the hotel and apartments.

March Studio's 'Grand Stair' continues the extensive use of timber found on the Nishi building's eastern facade. The staircase joins the  commercial section to the residential building that houses the hotel and apartments.

Collaborating with Australian artists and designers like Lucy McRae, Anna Wili Highfield, Charles Wilson and Adam Goodrum, the directors, Nectar and Johnathan Efkarpidis have created an environment that is highly creative, full of texture, personality and surprise. Part of the Nishi building in the NewActon precinct built in several stages by the Molonglo Group since 2010, Hotel Hotel has two faces - one, to the east, is all timber slats and open elements, the other is in formed concrete with an intricate facetted facade. 

 Part of the hotel lobby designed by March Studio. Concrete beams are stacked Jenga style to create textural interest, seating and shelving.

Part of the hotel lobby designed by March Studio. Concrete beams are stacked Jenga style to create textural interest, seating and shelving.

 The interior of one of the 'Creative' rooms with a playful mix of raw concrete, strong colour and soft fabrics.

The interior of one of the 'Creative' rooms with a playful mix of raw concrete, strong colour and soft fabrics.

Unlike most hotels where ostentacious marble foyers invariably lead to pokey and unimaginative rooms, Hotel Hotel is all about creating a friendly, connected experience with rooms that ooze individuality and cool good taste. The designer of the hotel's 99 rooms, Don Cameron, (although the process was highly collaborative) has mixed Japanese grass wallpaper ceilings, OSB wood chip wall panels and rough rendered walls. Furniture is a mix of retro inspired designs manufactured for the hotel and original mid-century pieces sourced from Sydney design collector, Ken Neale. These have been restored and re-upholstered in strong colours and unusual fabrics. The hotel has four types of rooms based on size. 'Cozy', 'Original', 'Creative' and 'Meandering' are the names given to these room styles as the floorspace increases. No two rooms are the same. 

 

Lou Weiss, the co-founder of Broached Commissions was another major collaborator, co-ordinating a number of items designed specifically for the hotel by designers Charles Wilson and Adam Goodrum. While these contributions are few in number with Wilson designing just two bronze sofas and Goodrum a table and chair for the restaurant, their presence adds the bespoke design component the Efkarpidis brothers were searching for. These larger furniture pieces combined with smaller accessories by local makers and specially commissioned art works take the number of collaborators to over fifty - producing everything from handblown glass pendant lights to beautifully crafted brass trays.

 The combination of sheer linen curtains and rough rendered walls in the bedrooms are set off by the judicious use of timber in the form of recycled French oak and Orientated Stand Board - a type of chunky wood chip paneling.

The combination of sheer linen curtains and rough rendered walls in the bedrooms are set off by the judicious use of timber in the form of recycled French oak and Orientated Stand Board - a type of chunky wood chip paneling.

Rough elements like recycled French oak sourced from the Loire Valley and cabinetry made from Orientated Strand Board, prevent the widespread use of unadorned concrete from becoming monotonous.

 Vintage inspired lighting with brass detailing and aged oak are reoccurring themes in the hotel's rooms.

Vintage inspired lighting with brass detailing and aged oak are reoccurring themes in the hotel's rooms.

The smallest details are carefully considered. Avoiding the mainstream and celebrating authentic locally made products, the hotel includes Aesop bathroom products while the minibar offers organic beers and fruit juices. This highly individual approach applies equally to the hotel's restaurant and bar Monster, with the food focusing on local produce that is served from 6.30 am until late. Head Chef, Sean McConnell wants the venue to provide a high calibre of interesting dishes in a relaxed informal atmosphere with guests being able to drop in whenever they like - for just a drink or a coffee - or to indulge in a spectacular four course meal.

 Monster kitchen & bar features giant circular skylights that draw in light from an atrium above.

Monster kitchen & bar features giant circular skylights that draw in light from an atrium above.

To this end the restaurant has a large number of areas that range from low coffee tables and armchairs clustered around a central fireplace, through to the main restaurant area with it's bespoke dining tables and chairs by Adam Goodrum. Part of this open plan restaurant and lobby area is the Library, filled with interesting books on design, architecture and art. Waiting for a table is turned into a pleasure. 

 The combination of stacked concrete beams and timber continues into a lounging area where unstructured leather armchairs by Sergio Rodrigues set the tone.

The combination of stacked concrete beams and timber continues into a lounging area where unstructured leather armchairs by Sergio Rodrigues set the tone.

 Inside the NIshi Gallery. The NewActon precinct has a number of restaurants and other buildings to add to the areas appeal.

Inside the NIshi Gallery. The NewActon precinct has a number of restaurants and other buildings to add to the areas appeal.

 The ceiling of March Studio's 'Grand Stair'.

The ceiling of March Studio's 'Grand Stair'.

For more on this truly inspiring hotel and the designers and makers behind it, visit the Hotel Hotel website