Hotel Realm, Canberra


Canberra, the Australian capital, is 100 years young this year. An aerial view still shows swathes of native scrub and gums. Last year the population of the city grew 2.3 percent while the national rate was 1.8 percent. However, for university students, public servants, visiting dignitaries, journalists and members of the military, it still remains a temporary home. Much has been done in the last decade to improve its reputation and appeal, long having been the butt of jokes for urbanites in Sydney (to the north) and Melbourne (to the south), which are far more cosmopolitan centres.
Aided by centenary celebrations and dramatic political manoeuvring, Canberra is basking in the spotlight this year. Well-funded institutions are turning out gems, and new building development is adding an element of the cutting-edge, previously missing among the staid suits and sensibilities of the parliamentary centre.
The Realm precinct, East of Capital Hill, has the location, land and outlook to create something special. Development is already underway: led by the DOMA Group, which has entered into interesting partnerships with local and Sydney-based architecture and interior design firms. The result has been contemporary, befitting of a 21st century city. A multi-use zone, the Realm precinct’s ultimate architectural mix will include residential and commercial property. At its centre stands Hotel Realm, a five star hotel that teams boutique chic with first-rate facilities.
Hotel Realm is popular both with locals, who dine in its restaurants and drink in its bars, as well as with tourists, for whom the experience is less traditional continental and more ‘Mod-Oz’. Realm represents the best in modern architecture and materials, dressed in hues of the Australian landscape and featuring natural light and ventilation. Pre-cast structural concrete allows for the geometric architecture and bold, clean lines to make way for the expansive lobby. The rooms soothe in hues of sand, brown and charcoal, and equip business travellers with all the modern conveniences needed to madly prepare for meetings. Between times, relaxation is at hand with a spa, salon and health club on-site.
Sister space the Burbury Hotel is also now open. Sydney design firm Redgen Mathieson (formerly Katon Redgen Mathieson) developed the Burbury’s interior palette and outfitted the space in snug, sophisticated style. Redgen Mathieson has made their mark on Canberra and set a new level of aesthetic sensibility: they’re also responsible for the interior design of café Maple + Clove, which is part of the Realm precinct.
Given its proximity to the National Library, National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery of Australia, the Realm is also the perfect precinct from which to take in cultural icons aplenty. The NGA is a must-see with its famed Jackson Pollock piece “Blue Poles” taking centre stage, and the no-less-remarkable work by his wife, Lee Krasner, entitled “Combat,” hanging opposite. Along with an incredible Indigenous collection and the latest from Indonesian contemporary artists like Heri Dono, it seems Canberra is finally coming into its own.

Text by Amy Rudder
Photography by DAVID MATHESON