Canberra's Northbourne Avenue is a busy road that stretches right into the city centre. Straddled either side with deserted public housing buildings of a bygone era (namely, the 70s) which will eventually be demolished as part of the 'urban renewal strategy', turning the road into a "grand tree-lined boulevard". A new light rail service will run down the avenue's original nature strip, whipping guests from the Mantra into Civic in less than ten minutes, perhaps within the year.
Right now, there's not much on the block but construction, with more private suites being built, a car park underway, and public spaces yet to be landscaped. But it won't be long before this is transformed into an urban village, proposed here for the intersection at MacArthur, with shops, transport stations, parks and cafes.
The only hotel to open in the nation's capital in 2017, a $19 million retrofit has converted the former drab 10 story office building into a bright modern hotel housing 136 hotel rooms and 40 suites. There's secure underground parking on its way, but the hotel also features conference facilities, a gym with brand new equipment, 24 hour reception and a Greek-Mediterranean restaurant, Podilato.
We were lucky to be in a two bedroom suite. The suites, behind one door, are two separate hotel suites with their own bathrooms that can be locked as such, or opened up for families. Huge windows allow for impressive natural light. The bigger suite has ample space even with a small dining table, two armchairs and a coffee table, a kitchenette with fridge, sink and microwave in place. The smaller suite resembles a larger room, minus the kitchenette and dining table. The bedding was extremely comfortable, and in the bathroom we loved the drainage that stretched right across the edge of the double shower which stopped the bathroom floor from getting flooded.
The restaurant Podilato is Mediterranean, mostly Greek, and has a variety of dishes to suit those wanting to snack or settle in for a three course meal, with some good wine choices. The balcony attached to the restaurant will be good for a sundowner once the construction outside is complete. Breakfast is also served here in the morning with barista made coffee available, fruit salad, bircher muesli, chia puddings, toast and pastries, and there's a hot food available to order (at an extra cost).
There's not much to do right now directly outside of the hotel, but not for long; that being said, Canberra is not a huge place with Civic a 20 minute walk or five minute Uber ride away. The light rail will make it even more convenient.
Immaculate and spacious digs that don't skimp on comfort close to the heart of the action.
Top marks for space, light, and shower drainage. Using the remainder of your clean towels to mop up the bathroom floor is never fun.
Our street-facing room had noise from the cars in the mornings which can be bothersome. Ask for a room that doesn't face the street.
The writer was a guest of Mantra