report by Trevor Connell
The Hotel Kurrajong is part of Canberra’s history.
The Kurrajong, which is co-owned by TFE Hotels and NRMA, was designed in 1924 by the government’s chief architect, John Smith Murdoch, who also designed Old Parliament House.
The hotel was relaunched last week as a 147-room hotel with 26 heritage-listed rooms, four executive suites, four balconies, and eight terraces.
Between 1976 and 1978, the Kurrajong closed its doors to guests and became the temporary base for the offices of Parliamentary staff.
The ACT government secured a 50-year lease on the building in 1993 and reopened it as a hotel in 1995 before selling it in a joint venture in March 2013 for $7,650,00, well short of the $10 million asking price. – source Canberra Times
Originally constructed as one of two hotels of equal walking distance from Old Parliament House, Hotel Kurrajong is part of the fabric of Australia’s political capital. It is most famous as post World War Two Prime Minister Ben Chifley’s home in Canberra; he preferred the comfortable, down-to-earth hotel to the Australian PM’s official residence, The Lodge.
The building has also served as a guest house and a hospitality school.
Over the past 12 months the hotel has been fully refurbished at cost of around $12M – source Total Construction
The Hotel was officially reopened by Prime Minister Tony Abbott last Wednesday and on the following night the hotel hosted members and guests of the Canberra Convention Bureau for a networking evening.
Executive Chef, Michael Chatto turned on a fantastic selection of canapés including Salmon pastrami on crote, Seared Harvey Bay scallops with Jamon & Artichoke crumble, Salmon and wasabi cream roulade, Mini onion & goat fetta tartlets and Ricotta & Cointreau fritters.
General Manager, Robert McKenna was on hand to greet the guests then hotel staff took guests on a tour of the rooms and facilities.
The architects and builders have a done a fantastic job of preserving the 1920s character of the building and the gardens.
Of course there are heritage issues to deal with when doing such a conversion and that obviously challenged the architect when it came to the main function room. The acoustics are awful. There are curtains on only one wall and no acoustic panelling in the ceiling, combine that with a hardwood floor and sound just ricochets around the space, just like one experiences in too many restaurants these days. With 100 people enjoying cocktails it is almost impossible to converse. So the smart guests took to the lobby with its comfortable lounge chairs and a very thick carpet to soak up the sound.
This networking event certainly attracted interest from the hotel industry in Canberra. The largest proportion of guests were from that sector – who were obviously there to show support.