Written by Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan
20 December 2023
I’m sitting on a balcony alone. It’s a large balcony and is accessed via the bar. I’m eating a crisp salad and drinking a local chardy while I watch the rain splash on to the lush grass where a man sits under an umbrella.
Tanned and dressed in a suit, he’s lounging back as if it’s balmy evening. It’s been 15 minutes that he’s been out there.
I’m distracted as two men and a woman with a Belgian accent walk past me. I hear them pull up some chairs just behind me. And then the big-noting conversation starts. The Belgian sounds impressed.
Then two more men walk in. I’m desperately hoping their politicians or press secretaries. Parliament is sitting and I’m at THE hotel in Canberra, the Hyatt.
It’s a great place for a writer to listen in on conversations. (I wouldn’t do it, otherwise. Promise).
A woman with shoulder length, perfectly blow-dried streaked brown hair flounces past in boots, suit and a wafty scarf. She’s heading for the guy in the rain and I’m wondering what clandestine conversation is about to take place.
I couldn’t really follow her out and sit in the middle of the rain under their umbrella, so I had to be satisfied with my musings about them. Perhaps they were famous. (I’m not much good at recognising celebrities; I must watch more TV.)
The allure of the Hyatt for the celebrated and affluent intrigues me. Location, a pivotal factor, places it at the heart of Commonwealth Avenue, linking the city to Parliament House. Its proximity to Lake Burley Griffin, a 10-minute stroll to the National Library, and a 20-minute walk to the National Gallery underscore its unrivalled positioning.
The hotel’s storied past, dating back to its construction in 1927, adds to its appeal. Having hosted numerous celebrities and politicians, including serving as James Scullin’s official residence, the Hyatt has welcomed presidents and stands in close proximity to embassies. The charm of its divine 1920s architecture only enhances its allure.
Undergoing several facelifts, the hotel now boasts amenities such as a lap pool, a full-sized tennis court, a well-equipped gym and a business centre, all managed by a team of friendly and professional staff.
A highlight for guests is the signature high tea, featuring an array of finger sandwiches, savoury pastries, freshly baked scones with requisite jam and cream, and a selection of delectable cakes and slices. Served with fine leaf teas, espresso coffees and juices, patrons can unwind in the heritage-listed tea lounge while inadvertently tuning into captivating conversations.
Seeking refuge in the marble-tiled bathroom, a favourite feature of the Hyatt, I marvel at its opulence. As a devotee of marble, my own bathroom is adorned in limestone marble akin to the Park Hyatt Sydney. The darker, Grand Hyatt Melbourne-inspired marble bathrooms of the Hyatt Canberra provide the perfect setting for a lavish bubble bath, a ritual of decadence befitting the Hyatt experience.
Morning brings a delightful encounter with the barista, a fellow cricket enthusiast hailing from Bangladesh. A shared chuckle over India’s recent World Cup loss accompanies the frothy perfection of his chai latte. A second round is inevitable, and another guest joins our cricket banter. Eventually, it’s time for me to bid adieu.
The previous night’s rain has ceased, giving way to a clear day. The hotel’s gardens, reminiscent of yesteryear’s landscaped courtyards, unfold on either side, named the lavender gardens and the rose gardens.
The rose gardens captivate me; an ideal locale for a clandestine rendezvous straight out of a James Bond thriller.
Stretching beyond the Hyatt, Lennox Gardens grace the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, offering panoramic views of Black Mountain, the Brindabella Ranges, and the city centre. Within the gardens, tokens of international camaraderie flourish, manifested in meticulously landscaped gifts from Japan and China. These expressions of sister city bonds unite Canberra with Beijing and Japan’s venerable capital, Nara.
The Beijing Garden, an embodiment of imperial Chinese garden aesthetics from the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), exudes an air of opulence and sophistication. Marked by a traditional Chinese welcome gate, winding pathways adorned with Chinese stone sculptures, and a tranquil Chinese pavilion, it beckons visitors to revel in the garden’s serene retreat.
In the Canberra Nara Peace Park, the annual Canberra Nara Candle Festival, held in October, unfolds amidst a Japanese-themed garden adorned with a traditional wooden gate, a picturesque gazebo, and iconic cherry blossom trees. Noteworthy is the park’s unique incorporation of borrowed landscape, expanding its boundaries to encompass landmarks like Lake Burley Griffin, Black Mountain, Mount Ainslie, and Lotus Bay.
Whether one is a writer, a spy, a politician, or simply a seeker of life’s indulgences, the Hyatt stands as the unparalleled accommodation choice in Canberra.