Canberra’s characterful cityscape is the grand design of American husband-and-wife team, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin. With its eloquent architecture, central man-made lake and green feel, it's certainly a beauty. Canberra’s civic gravitas has always attracted civil servants and politicians; more recently, it has lured an influx of artists, attracted by low rents and the sense of space. Their presence has injected new life into the city; the student hordes bring their own energy, putting the emphasis squarely on parties of the non-political kind.

Spotlight on: NewActon Precinct

If you’re looking for proof that Canberra has undergone something of a transformation, look no further than the innovative NewActon precinct and its distinctive pineapple-shaped Nishi Building, whose brilliant facilities include: a Palace Electric cinema (with a café and prosecco bar); Goodspeed bike shop; Nishi Gallery with local, interstate and international art exhibitions; Pilates Canberra; Soma Day Spa and Roji hair salon. The NewActon Precinct’s wealth of eating options include Sean McConnell’s gaff at the Smith-approved Hotel Hotel, plus Mocan and Green Grout, A.Baker, Parlour Wine Room and Bicicletta...

Smith insider tip #1

Eat at Mocan and Green Grout, headed up by Sean McConnell, the man behind Hotel Hotel’s bar and lounge; expect the same emphasis on fresh produce, quality suppliers and crowd-pleasing flavours, delivered with relaxed panache.

Don’t miss Brunch – options include baked eggs with charred aubergine, harissa and goat’s cheese, or salmon gravlax on toast with vine leaves, avocado and sumac.

Smith insider tip #2

Drink at Parlour Wine Room, also in the NewActon precinct, which houses an array of antiques and serves tasty tapas and delicious desserts until late. The vibe is 1920s; add feathers or a fedora if you’re feeling fancy. Don’t miss The excellent cocktails, which feature marmalade, rosemary smoke, espresso-infused vodka and other whizz-bang ingredients.

Smith insider tip #3

Sleep at Hotel Hotel doesn’t do things by halves: expect the most dazzling design, the most capital location and the most wonderful staff. Hotel Hotel is the latest addition to the NewActon cultural precinct, a hotbed of creative energy that's home to some brilliant dining spots.

Don’t miss A trip to the basement Palace Cinema...

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