Georgia Rickard checks in at one of Canberra’s newest hotels… and finds out that it’s business time  “Why are you writing in gold pen?” I ask suspiciously, as Jose the concierge fills in my details. I’m here as an anonymous, paying traveller – he doesn’t know I’m reviewing this place for the best travel magazine in the whole world. (Well, it is.) Unless… could he? Perhaps gold pen is a secret signal he uses, to inform other staff members of impending special guests.

Jose stops what he’s doing and looks up at me. “Well, you are special,” he says smoothly. “But we always use gold pen. It is hotel policy when filling out details.”

I see. That’s quite a detailed little touch, then.

“Our sister hotel across the street, Hotel Realm, only uses silver pen,” Jose adds, gesturing out the hotel doors across the road. “Also, I’ve upgraded you to a suite.”

Now that’s more like it.

So I graciously accept my room key, make my way to the sixth floor – that’s the top floor, other than the restaurant on the seventh – and open the door to my gigantic room. This is not an understatement.

As I’m to later learn (by peeking into the room of an unsuspecting guest), all the Burbury suites are gargantuan. Mine has views of the district and lake (nice), a generously sized lounge room (nice) and… a bathroom door that doesn’t slide closed. Is it broken? Or meant to stay open? I can’t tell. Hmmm.

In any case, this is a place of contradictions. Four-and-a-half-stars, the Burbury – which only opened in September last year – is part of a complex that includes five restaurants, and an outdoor bar/pub area.

As part of Hotel Realm across the road, it also offers access to a health club, a day spa and a hair salon. But despite being surrounded by all these weekend-style pursuits, the Burbury itself is all business.

Aggressively sterile styling flows through the rooms and corridors – it’s all streamlined black and white, with minimal fuss. Then there’s the office area in my suite, which is… well, huge (I’m beginning to see a theme here).

Clearly, the mini bar has been designed specifically for late night wind-downs, too – it holds four Crown lagers, one bottled water and a single Diet Coke. And there simply aren’t enough spots to cosy up and watch TV. Just one padded chair, in fact, along with the Tom Cruise of couches – nice to look at, but otherwise plain uncomfortable.

To be sure, the styling is a refreshing change from floral bedspreads and OTT gilded gold trim you see around the hotel circuit. And extra additions like an ipod dock, Square [i] Apple IPTV in every room (which looks like regular appleTV, but has about twenty thousand more features) and flatscreen Samsungs are make for some solid finishing touches. But overall, the room itself is a little too bare for my liking. There’s no artwork on the walls, no rug on the floor, no flowers on the table. The whole thing feels a bit… unfinished.

Then again, the same thing could be said about the area. The precinct itself, so recently redeveloped, has been styled to look like New York, but so far, it’s missing the New York buzz. For all the lovely new carpeting and excellent service, there’s an strange sense of unsettledness about the place – it just doesn’t feel lived in yet.

Still, the buffet breakfast is absolutely excellent – a gourmet range of mueslis, homemade baked beans, fresh merjool dates and thick creamy yoghurt show a bit of generosity in the breakfast budget. Dinner across the road at one of the in-house restaurants, Konoba, is flawless. If you’re looking for a comfortable, spacious, modern place to stay in Canberra, I’d recommend it here. Give it a year or two to grow into itself, and I daresay everyone else will, too.

The Details
Where? 1 Burbury Close, Barton ACT
Notes: We paid $245 for the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” package, which included one night’s accommodation, a hot buffet breakfast and unlimited in-house movies.
Contact: 02 6173 2700.


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