Novotel Canberra Hotel
Reviews - Novotel Canberra Hotel
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Historical Traveller Reviews of Novotel Canberra Hotel
It was the pool that brought me back...from Alan_Kay
Northbourne Avenue is the main commercial drag of Canberra; a lot of offices, not a lot of shops or eateries. Most of the ones that are nearby open to the beat of the offices, and are therefore (with a couple of exceptions) closed on the weekend or after hours. However a short stroll down Alinga Street (at the Southern end of the Novotel’s block) will take you to the main Canberra shopping centre, with pretty much any type of food or service you could wish for including department stores and cinemas. A coach terminus is located right alongside the Novotel, and contains some takeaway food places and a newsagent. (Fear not, your sleep won’t be disturbed by diesel motors; you’ll barely notice the coaches, if you do at all.) Local bus services run close by as well.
The location isn’t romantically picturesque, but it’s not in any way grim either. Northbourne itself has a wide nature strip separating its north and south bound lanes. A large amount of parkland is only a couple of blocks to the south (and Lake Burley Griffin a little beyond that), but it’s not generally visible from the hotel. The views from the rooms at the front (those facing onto Northbourne) probably appeal more to those who like commercial landscapes or don’t care one way or t’other. Those at the back look over the coach terminus parking lot and the offices in the next street but also, not so far away, the rather more attractive hills surrounding Canberra as well as the communications tower. It was interesting to awaken on Sunday morning to the sight of several hot air balloons drifting past them.
With only one level of relatively small undercover spaces, parking’s not the Novotel’s forte. I didn’t count them but it’s a safe bet that there are far fewer spaces than rooms, and the Novotel’s target demographic is unlikely to arrive via the coach terminus next door. Seeing an SUV in some of the parking spaces was like seeing a hippo wearing a tutu. Parking costs $10 per day, which is reasonable for undercover security parking in the centre of a city. However they also ask you to leave your keys with Reception to allow them to reshuffle vehicles if necessary and shift any which block in others, as is inevitable in some cases. This, I don’t much care for. On my previous stay they also had to shift some cars to another secure parking facility off-site. Check in early is my suggestion, which will guarantee you a space in a reasonably accessible part of the car park.
The car entrance is on Moore Street at the back of the hotel. There’s an intercom button that you use to summon Reception; press once and wait for them to respond, and they’ll open the roller door for you. If you haven’t checked in yet and therefore don’t know your room number, they’ll ask for your booking reference number so have that handy.
I was about to tell you what types of rooms the Novotel offered, but have to bang my head against a wall for a moment while I wonder why some businesses just don’t seem to be able to communicate basic product information. In this case you’d expect that the information would be on the Accor web site. But it isn’t; that site lists the features of the rooms as if there was only one type available. However I saw an on-line booking site which allowed you to book one of TWO types of room; a studio suite consisting of a separate bedroom and a living area plus bathroom, and a standard room which is a single room plus bathroom. I’d have taken the other site’s information with a grain of salt, but the Accor site itself has a picture of what is CLEARLY one of the studio suites... even though it gives you no option to book that type of room! Ohhh-kay.
There would also seem to be at least two sub-types of the standard room. The first one that I was given this trip felt slightly smaller than the one from my last stay, and while I didn’t bring my tape measure I’m prepared to bet that it was. It also had only a shower, with no bath despite the web site promising one and my recollection being that there WAS one in the last room that I stayed in. (Trips away are my only chance to have one, so the memory stands out.) I mentioned this to Reception, who agreed that I had indeed booked one with a bath and immediately moved me with no fuss at all. The second room was almost identical in both size and facilities to the one that I recalled from my first stay. Default configuration is a queen size bed but other options, including twin doubles, are available.
Access to the room is via a keycard. When I returned from an outing after my first night, my keycard didn’t work. I went to Reception, who reprogrammed it and gave me a second one as a precaution. That was fortunate because when I got back to my room from breakfast on the last morning one of the keycards AGAIN didn’t work. Thankfully the second one did. This is only an irritation as the Reception staff is very helpful and can sort out problems like these quickly. (After reading Isis023's review (which was enough to drop the Novotel out of the top 10, understandably), I'm wondering whether they have an issue with their card system.)
The room has all of the usual features; built-in wardrobe, large writing desk, television (still analogue rather than digital but I doubt that many Australian hotels have upgraded yet), broadband internet, shower and (sometimes) bath, mini bar, coffee making and so on. It has a standard hotel style safe, which is simply too small to fit a widescreen notebook. Most business travellers these days have a notebook and would prefer to have a place to secure it, a fact which I hope both the safe manufacturers and hotels generally will take note of when the time comes to refurbish. The bed was firm and comfortable, the bedding ample and clean, the furniture clean and comfortable, the bathroom spotless as you’d expect. The air conditioning (with in-room thermostats) worked well and was relatively quiet. The walls have some marks here and there, but hey, it IS a hotel. Checkout time is 11am.
The hotel offers a number of other facilities such as meeting and conference rooms, a business centre, laundry (same day if received before 9am, not available on public holidays), in house movies and so on, but I didn’t sample any of these.
There’s a small but well equipped gym on the second floor, open from 6am to 9pm and accessed by your room keycard. The equipment is either new or very well maintained, and includes a cross-trainer, a step machine, three stationary cycles of different types, a treadmill and a collection of fixed weight machines. However the centrepiece of the fitness centre is the indoor heated pool. There are no markings to indicate the length of it, but it’s long enough to swim a decent lap. The depth is 1.2 metres all the way along which makes it suitable for children and poor swimmers who need to stick their feet down regularly. The pool is “use at own risk” so parents are expected to keep an eye on the young’uns. There’s also a spa and a sauna in the pool area. The outer side of the pool area is bordered by windowed walls which lead out to a deck with some outdoor furniture, and the windows give an attractive view over Canberra and surrounds.
Dining at the hotel revolves around two facilities; the Tonic Lounge Bar and the Blue Dish restaurant, both located on the first floor. There are no signs pointing to the Blue Dish when you get out of the elevators; just walk straight through the Tonic Bar to find it. In the morning the Blue Dish metamorphasises into the Sunrise for breakfast. All of them (and room service) appear to be served from the same kitchen.
The décor in both places is comfortable and simple, with two seater armchairs in either leather or fabric plus some low tables in the bar, and light wood furniture in the dining room. Most of the dining room tables are in the inner part of the floor and are grouped to accommodate 4 or more people, but each evening tables for couples are set around the windows. As they’re the only ones with flickering candles on them, I imagine that this is a valiant but ultimately doomed attempt to allow for romantic dinners. (The Novotel’s okay for a romantic weekend in terms of its facilities (HAH, like I’D know...), but this is still a hotel restaurant and you won’t get a helping hand from the ambience. There will always be too many loud tourists and yelling ankle-biters to make for a romantic atmosphere, and let’s face it, a view over Northbourne Avenue isn’t exactly Lake Geneva in spring.)
A continental breakfast costs $14 and a full buffet one $21, but I booked the latter for $20 per day when I booked the room. This is hardly an unprecedented amount, but if you just want cereal and juice it’s not good value if you’re travelling solo. To get value out of the buffet you need to have saved up an appetite for all of the sausages, eggs, grilled tomato, bacon and other goodies that you get to treat yourself to only occasionally. (That’s in case your trainer’s anything like mine and will cause you much suffering if she finds out that you ate such a breakfast. But hey, at least it’s not McDonalds.) However the $20 cost that I paid was per ROOM, so if you’re travelling as part of a couple or a family the value equation changes dramatically. Another option is room service breakfasts with prices ranging from $3.50 for cereals, same for toast, $4 for juice, $15 for a pancake stack or $19 for a cooked breakfast of bacon, sausage, tomato, hash brown, mushrooms and eggs. (There were no mushrooms or hash browns at the buffet, strangely.) Beverages are a weak link at the Sunrise. There are only two kinds of juice (orange and apple) and on the second morning the coffee urn had been replaced by a froth & bubble machine. Point 1, no-one needs to learn how to be a barista on their holidays. Point 2, the button for a long black yielded half a cup of slightly discoloured water of indeterminate temperature. I’d like the urn back, thanks.
For lunch the only two hotel options are room service or the Tonic Lounge Bar which offers a “snack” menu from 11.30am. (The bar itself is open from 8am until “late”.) Some of the snacks can easily pass for light meals. My chicken and salad burger was quite large, contained fresh, light rolls, plenty of lean (and finely cooked) chicken and salad filling and came with a large plate of French fries. That plus a fresh orange juice cost $22 without tip, which isn’t far from what you’d pay at any half way decent café for something similar. I deduct marks for them not offering pepper or salt, though. Still, it surprised me that I was the only one in the bar from about 1.30 to 2.15, though it was a Sunday which could account for it.
Service in the Blue Dish was extremely good, as indeed it was (mostly) throughout the Novotel. The staff members were attentive and often checked to see whether there was anything I needed. There’s a wide range of dishes on offer including quite a few vegetarian ones. Entrees run from $12 to $15, bread and sides $7 or $8, the grill dishes $29 to $34, other mains $25 to $31, and dessert $14 to $17. I had bruschetta as an entrée, crispy skinned barramundi with sweet potato mash as a main, affogato (espresso over a small cup of vanilla ice cream) for dessert and two orange juices, total cost $58 excluding tip. So no, it’s not budget fare. The food was quite enjoyable without being anything to rave over, and the sweet potato mash overpowered the barramundi a little more than I’d like. The next night I tried room service. Delivery time was just over half an hour, which was fine. This time the grilled strip loin with mushroom sauce, salad and fries ($25) WAS something to rave over, as was the chocolate mud cake ($12 plus a fatal dose of push-ups when my trainer sees this).
Checkout was a bit of a disappointment. Apparently a copy of the bill was supposed to be left under my door so that I could review it before checking out, but it wasn’t. Which was unfortunate, as there was indeed something wrong with it, and with the layout of it I still haven’t had time to work out exactly what. However overall I appear to have been undercharged rather than overcharged UNLESS the difference was charged to my credit card, which I need to check. One thing that I was charged for, however, was an "opener" from the mini bar when I'd never gone anywhere near the mini bar. I wasn't best pleased by that, but the Reception staff reversed it without quibble. Overall, this is a complication which slightly soured an otherwise pleasant stay.
The Novotel probably isn’t for those on a tight budget, though good deals can be had by booking via on on-line web sites and you don’t HAVE to eat in the hotel restaurants. For comfort, service and facilities aside from functional keycards, pre-checkout bills and coffee urns, it’s well worth coming back to. But be sure to ask for a bath, if you want one.
(All amounts are in $AUD as at the time of my visit in December 2006.)
Not Impressedfrom isis023
This is not the type of service I would expect from a well known hotel chain, who obviously double booked my room. I was not impressed and even more disappointed to awake in the morning and not even find a note of apology under the door from staff.
A nice weekend awayfrom kazkap
House keeping were slow to respond to requests, it took 3 phone calls to have a porta cot made up.
Matresses were uncomfortable (hard), but this tends to be a trait of the Novotel's that I have stayed in. However rooms were very clean and well appointed, quite spacious.
Breakfast was good, a lot of variety.
Overall a very nice stay that was family friendly. If you have children, take them to Questacon!
Spacious rooms but pretty average hotelfrom pixie_06
Service starting to fall behindfrom A TripAdvisor Member
I booked a twin bed room on the Accor website but, when I checked in, I was given a single double bed room instead. This tends to happen fairly often at Novotel Canberra so ring in advance to ensure you get a twin bed room if you really need it.
Check-In was fine.
Hotel Room was clean and comfortably furnished but I found the bed harder and a little lumpier than usual. I suspect that the mattresses are not being rotated to ensure customer comfort.
I ordered Room Service for dinner, which took about 45 minutes to arrive, but the most concerning part is that my steak was delivered cold and my glass of lemonade was flat as. The meal had obviously been sitting around for a while before it got delivered.
I also got Room Service for breakfast and was also suitably dissappointed when my pancake stack arrived as a piklet stack which was mostly dry and just luke-warn.
Housekeeping also dropped the ball - despite my door having a Do Not Distrub sign and my privacy lock being engaged Room Service still barged into my room in the morning.
While Reception staff still appear pretty good the rest of House staff leave a lot to be desired and I certainly can't recommend the room service.
For $220 a night you'd expect better.
Always a great stayfrom familyfromoz
Just a brief stay, hotel just rightfrom AlanDHonkers
Location was excellentfrom A TripAdvisor Member
Definatly recommend Novotel Canberra to anyone who is thinking about coming to Canberra.
Central and quietfrom A TripAdvisor Member
Very close to all attractions ,a must see in Canberra is the War Memorial Museum,simply outstanding.
Top Local Tips for Canberra
Sabayon Restaurant Restaurant called Sabayon in teh Melbourne building in Canberra city. Owned by the same people who own a number of other of Canberra's top restaurants. Degustation dinner was $65 per person and a good range of wines by the glass. Really well presented food and goods ervice
Questacon Great area for 0-6 yrs olds!
Sight Seeing The Novotel is next door to the bus station where you can pick up brochures for sightseeing. The Explorer bus will drop of and pick up through out the day tourist wanting to see the major attractions of Canberra for $35. You pick pick and choose 4 stops - Australian War Memorial, New Parliament House, Old Parliament house, National Art Gallery, High Court, australian National Museum and some others. Well worth the money.
Other names for Novotel Canberra Hotel
- novotel canberra
- canberra novotel
- accor canberra
- Address: 65 Northbourne Avenue - Canberra - Australian Capital Territory - 2600 - Australia
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