Hotel Kurrajong in Australia’s capital city is a rare gem that has watched Canberra grow from a political idea to a bustling national capital.
Walking through the halls, with the historical photos on the walls - Hotel Kurrajong, standing proud in a grassy field when Canberra was barely there, and photos of Prime Ministers past - and you'll feel a palpable sense of history. In modern times, this beautiful hotel is filled with the happy sounds of tourists but the echo of its past is never too far away.
The Origins of an Icon
First opened in 1926, Hotel Kurrajong witnessed the birth of the nation’s capital.
Designed by the Commonwealth Chief Architect John Smith Murdoch, who is also famous for designing Old Parliament House, Kurrajong first housed staff transferred from the previous capital Melbourne to set up the brand new Parliament. The hotel’s corridors have seen generations of political history, bringing life to the term “if these walls could talk”.
If these corridors could tell a story, it would be one where the staff consider themselves proud custodians of heritage that have helped shape Australia’s past, present and future with world-class hospitality. The hotel’s roots are reflected in the beautiful Art Deco décor, nostalgic ambient lighting, jazz music and a lounge filled with books and artworks on the city’s political past and leaders who have frequented Hotel Kurrajong and changed the course of history.
Chifley’s: Another Canberra Institution
Australia's sixteenth Prime Minister Ben Chifley is rightfully associated with Hotel Kurrajong’s rich past, having lived at the hotel throughout his parliamentary career. Most notably, he lived at the hotel during his term as Prime Minister in the mid to late 1940s and up until his death in 1951. He was known to have preferred the Kurrajong’s comfortable, down-to-earth confines to any alternative accommodation, famously enjoying the 700m walk each morning to Parliament House.
For this reason, the hotel’s celebrated restaurant has him as its namesake – Chifley’s Bar and Grill. The restaurant offers the effortless elegance of the Art Deco era, which is mirrored in its design, whilst providing an approachable menu that caters to visiting diplomats, travelling tourists and local regulars all at once.
The events team at Hotel Kurrajong are industry leaders, having won a swag of awards for providing exceptionally unique events that cater to contemporary functions whist adding the charming flair of the 1920s. This is most easily seen in the annual Great Gatsby-inspired balls, which is attended by locals and visitors alike.
Insider Tip: To celebrate the 94th birthday of Hotel Kurrajong, the team created the Benny's Double using Johnny Walker's celebration whisky.
The gold blend is an easy drinking cocktail that Ben Chifley himself would approve of. The original recipe for JW Gold was coined in the early 1929s by Alex Walker (The Second) and he wrote the blending notes to celebrate JW's centenary. However, due to shortage of malts after the war, he was unable to bring his celebratory whiskey to life. Fast forward to today, when the enterprising chaps at Johnny Walker have created the blend from Alex's original notes.
To make a Benny's Double, you combine Gold Label Johnny Walker and Luxard, orange bitters. You then blend and serve with 23 Carat gold leaf.
A Hotel that Feels Like Home
It’s not just the rich history, iconic status and fabulous bar and restaurant that has locals flocking to Hotel Kurrajong to rub shoulders with visitors – it’s the effortless comfort it provides that has this property buzzing throughout the seasons.
In winter, the roaring fire in the lobby beckons guests and locals alike for a hot drink or a glass of wine over lively conversation. In summer, the outdoor area is a hive of activity with live music, local events and punters basking in Canberra’s warm sunshine.
Hotel Kurrajong feels like a warm welcome, with each of the 147 stately rooms offering comfortable beds, Wi-Fi, modern bathrooms and an array of 5-star amenities. This includes Executive Suites, Balcony Rooms and Terrace Suites - there's even a Turnbull Suite in keeping with the hotel's political tradition - with many facing the lush garden to ensure you can enjoy the activity of the outdoor spaces from the privacy of your room.
A Word About Our Bushfires
Like you, our thoughts are with the communities impacted by this summer of devastating fires across Australia. The impact of fires on communities across our state and country has cast a pall on our hearts and collective national consciousness.
At TFE Hotels, we have formed a national working group to consolidate our corporate and hotel-based initiatives and will continue to explore ways to aid the relief and recovery efforts. Tourism support in affected areas will be vital in getting communities back on their feet. If you are in a position to, please feel free to donate at any Hotel Kurrajong during your stay or to our dedicated corporate page online.