Get cultured in Canberra

Luxe hotel? Tick. Pastries for brekky? Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition? Tick. No we’re not talking about a getaway in Paris, it’s our very own Canberra!

lastminute lovely Angela shows why the nation’s capital is well worth a weekend getaway.
Most Sydneysiders have been to Canberra at least once (for me it was a primary school excursion) so heading back down to the ACT, I’m not sure what to expect.
It’s not the first destination I think of when planning a weekend getaway, but with the current Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition on and so many hotels in the area offering gallery packages I just HAD to visit.
Sure you can fly down in less than an hour, but I wanted to see the sights so it was decided – I was going roadtrippin’. And who else better to take to Canberra than my Mum (who also drives and owns a car) :).
After an early rise we are on the road, and it’s only three and a half hours before we enter the first of many roundabouts in the country’s capital.

On the road from Sydney

Getting closer to Canberra

Hello Capital Hill!

We’re excited to be staying at the new East Hotel & Apartments for the night. Located between the fashionable retail and restaurant hubs of Manuka and Kingston, it’s a great spot to be. Plus there’s just something about staying at a new hotel before everyone else does 😉

Mum and I are pleasantly surprised walking into the hotel lobby. Think urban cool, with funky vintage bikes and quirky video art. We check in and feeling pretty flash, head up to our Luxe Apartment.

Sparkling and flowers on arrival, oh yeah!

The apartment is comfy, stylish and practical. Forgot arty farty hotels that try too hard, the East Hotel has what you want; spacious rooms, pots and pans for a cheeky midnight meal, and art that you actually want to look at.

All artwork is sourced from and you can even buy it online yourself

Included in our Toulouse Dinner Package at the hotel is entry for two to the exhibition at the National Gallery. Just five minutes drive from the hotel, Mum and I zip over, ready to immerse ourselves in 19th century Parisian society.

Striking a pose at the National Gallery

The Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge exhibition is definitely worth a visit, the extensive collection (over 100 paintings, drawings and prints) is the first major retrospective of the artist in Oz.

After wandering through the exhibition (and gift shop) for a few hours, we grab a bite to eat and check out the sculpture garden.

Before we know it, it’s dinner time! Included in our package is a six-course banquet dinner for two at the hotel’s OX Eatery. To my delight, the cute cafe in the lobby I spotted earlier is actually a restaurant.

Seated in one of the restaurants retro booths, Mum and I peruse the banquet menu in awe and wonder of the amount of food that we are about to be served.

Grilled chorizo with warm olives

Citrus cured ocean trout with avocado, apple and champagne jelly

Selection of Charcuterie

Roast lamb with lots of yummy sides!

Thankfull the elevator is only a few metres away, Mum and I waddle our positively stuffed stomachs over and up into bed.

I’m not sure if it’s the fresh Canberra air, but I’m awake at (almost) the crack of dawn the next morning and down to brekky nice and early.

Morning view from my comfy bed

After last night’s feast fit for a king I’m overjoyed to see lots of fresh fruit, but still can’t resist a danish or two!

Mum and I say goodbye to the East Hotel and decide to check out the award winning Old Bus Depo Markets just down the road in Kingston. The eclectic markets are open every Sunday and have a wide range of produce, crafts, plants, food, and clothing to keep you busy for a couple of hours. Managing to control my urge to spend, we head over to the Canberra Glassworks next door.

Oh if only we had more time to spend in Canberra!

The glassworks offer paper-weight making workshops. Okay I know what you’re thinking, but you can become a glass blower extraordinaire for as little as $70 and for me that’s a good enough reason to come back to Canberra.

Last stop on our Canberra getaway is Manuka. This cute boutique shopping strip is the perfect stop for lunch before hitting the road.

Lunch at Bellucis

After eating ourselves silly (again) Mum and I are back on the road home to Sydney having happily spent the weekend getting cultured in Canberra.

The Toulouse Dinner Package at the East Hotel & Apartments Canberra inc. a bottle of Australian Sparking Wine on arrival, parking, six course dinner for two at the OX Eatery, one nights stay in an apartment room, two tickets to the National Gallery’s Toulouse- Lautrec exhibition and continental brekkie for two. Click here to book.

What is the most indulgent hotel meal you’ve ever had? Can you beat Angela’s six course feast?

Angela and her Mum stayed as guests of East Hotel.

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