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Hotel Hotel – So Good They Named It Twice

July 9, 2015

Hotel Hotel, Canberra

Hotel Hotel sets a new precedent for what an Australian hotel could be - bespoke, site-specific, made by hand and from the heart.

By Rachel Ang


Hotel Hotel is the vision of the Molonglo Group, an property and creative production house formed by brothers Johnathan and Nectar Efkarpidis. Exemplifying their collaborative, shared approach to design, Hotel Hotel occupies two levels behind the distinctive faceted facade of the Nishi Building. Nishi itself is a remarkable collaborative effort, designed by Suppose Design Office (Tokyo) and Fender Katsalidis Architects (Melbourne) in conjunction with engineering consultant group, ARUP (London);  it forms the western wedge of the NewActon precinct in Canberra. NewActon is envisioned as a sustainable mixed-use precinct “left of centre and right by the lake”, a highly-active landscape of art, retail, hotel, restaurants, cinemas, residential and commercial spaces drawn together by an overarching urban design vision for a city which has previously been low in both density and cultural activity.


The Molonglo Group’s design approach is formulated as a response to the dry bush climate of Canberra, an interpretation of the textures and layers of a vernacular shack in the Australian landscape; an on-going conversation between more than fifty creatives – architects and landscape architects, artists, craftspeople. Perhaps the most spectacular (and surely the most instagrammed) moment in the Hotel is the Grand Stair in the public lounge, created by Melbourne-based architects March Studio.


March Studio have taken the experience of entering the Hotel and created something extraordinary. Assembling more than 2150 pieces of timber reclaimed from a house, basketball court and off-cuts from the Nishi Building construction, they have created a stair which is truly grand, like a scaled-up game of Jenga. 1200 individually designed steel rods suspend unique pieces of timber, creating a curtain wall and hanging ceiling. Space seems to be pulled and stretched, hurtling away from the viewer. The suspended horizontal timber members filter light, creating a kind of shimmering effect and casting shadows like bar-codes through the space. The impression created is that very rare sense of being in a space which is both hand-made and space age.


The public lounge is a series of nested spaces constructed from rough-formed concrete structural lintels, and housing the reception, concierge and library, two fireplaces and the Monster kitchen and bar, Salon and dining rooms. The Monster and dining spaces were co-created by the Molonglo Group with Cameron, Neale and Craig Tan Architects. A salad of salvage, restored 20th century furniture, original artwork and bespoke furnishings, they pay homage to the eclectic-kitsch aesthetic borne of post-war immigration.


The 68 hotel rooms are similarly a collage of raw, warm textures and materials. The beds are built from reclaimed oak, and the walls are a mix of concrete, cork, earthen clay and natural fibre wallpaper. Each unique space is the culmination of intense collaboration between Molonglo Group, aesthetic curator and video director, Don Cameron, vintage collector and curator, Ken Neale and architects, Fender Katsalidis Architects.

Hotel Hotel


+612 6287 6287,
25 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra ACT 2601,

Photography courtesy of Hotel Hotel Canberra.

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