I read many of the TripAdvisor reviews prior to staying at the Hyatt Canberra. I must admit that some of the reviews made me very nervous about what my wife and I had set ourselves up for. Well, some of the reviews are spot on with their justifiably negative comments and some,I believe, are just downright "nit-picking". One thing for sure though. You will never have to concern yourself with your reviews of this hotel, as after scrolling through pages and pages of reviews, I did not see one single comment or piece of feedback from a manager or any one else associated with the hotel. Not even on the very negative comments from reviewers, which I have come to accept as the norm with TripAdvisor reviews... No offers of "return and we'll make it up to you next time". So, I am writing this review knowing that it will only be other travelers/potential travelers reading this review. I am writing it for those people like me who are a little concerned about what they are letting themselves in for after reading the previous feedback. Of course, it's only one traveler's opinion - mine.
Arrival - On our arrival, we DID manage to secure a doorman/bellhop to attend to our vehicle and bring our luggage in. This was a criticism I had read. During our 3 night stay though, I did witness a number of people arrive and drag their heavy luggage up the 6 or so steps to get into the building.
Room - We booked a Park Suite and it was a bizarre setup, to say the least. One previous review on this was extremely scathing on this point. I will not be as scathing. I have stayed in a great many 5 star hotels in my time and the suite at this hotel is the most bizarre that I have even been in. It is, in essence two rooms, with an adjoining door between them. The first room is a normal hotel room, albeit with a great bathroom with a large bath, which I would not assume to be the standard. Through the door "A 'la Alice" there was another hotel room which contained a couch (a cheap quality one I must add), two chairs, a coffee table and a desk (with no lamp on it - there was a lamp on the desk of the adjoining room. In a large open space at the end of the room was space to pull down a Murphy-bed. It seems they are trying to cash in on more possibilities of room letting, though I am unsure how. I really don't think the second room on it's own could be rented out due to the Murphy-bed and lack of bedside tables/lamps etc. It was really odd. This room had the world's largest shower which was very nice (although I did get stuck in there when the tight door would not budge to open and let me out - I had to wait until my wife discovered me missing and came looking for me - finding me wet and sitting on the shower floor). The only positive I can say about our extra 'room' is that it provided a place for me to write at night without disturbing my wife's sleep. Other than than there is absolutely no way on earth I would pay for this suite (seriously, they can't even spell the word 'suite' correctly on their official web-page - it's 'suit'). When I pay extra for a suite, I expect the room to be, well, roomier and with quality fittings, fixtures and furniture. These two rooms failed on that account. My other gripe - and this one REALLY peeved me - plus many other reviewers have reported on this - the tv being at a 90 degree angle to the bed. When my wife was in bed, I had to literally scoot half way down the bed to be able to see the screen, not to mention what happens to your neck when you sit like that even for a little while. As I looked around the room, I could see a number of options for fixing this problem. Perhaps if the hotel management ever read their TripAdvisor reviews and take some responsibility, they may choose to fix this problem. Maybe not. Given that it is 4 days since I checked out and I have not received any communication from them asking me to rate my stay, where I have received such communications from everything else we booked e.g. hire car, it appears that the hotel is not so much into receiving any type of feedback.
The building itself is stunning.
Food/drink hospitality - I read some fairly horrendous feedback about this category before staying at this hotel in regards to the food/beverage service. That said though, I went with an open mind. All in all, I think that the service provided by both the Pavilion and the Admiral's lounge is what most lets this hotel down. What I have to say for each of these may appear minor to some, however, trust me, when you add them up, they count.
Friday night dinner at the Pavilion - We were excited to try out the seafood buffet at the Pavilion and thought that $65 for a seafood buffet sounded reasonable, so off we went downstairs to try it. We were seated - well we were shown to our seats and left, no napkins in lap etc.. We were not advised how the buffet system worked, whether or not we were choosing the buffet or a 'la carte, nor offered a drink. After about 10 minutes we signaled a waitperson and ordered two cocktails. We were promptly advised that the drinks would take at least 15 minutes as they had no bar in the Pavilion and the drinks had to come from the 'bar' located somewhere else. We thought that strange. (As an aside, they were the most horrendous cocktails we have ever had - I say it as an aside, as such comments really are so subjective - what I dislike, you may love. However, my wife's margarita was not in the typical style and my martini was... oh man, let's not go there).
We went and helped ourselves to the buffet. It was beautifully fresh and I have no complaints about the food quality at all. As I said, it's the little things, like the empty salt cellar, or the salt cellar you take from the adjoining table only to have the salt come out at the speed of light and ruin your meal. We again called the waiter and asked for a large bottle of sparkling mineral water (to get the taste of those cocktails out of our mouth). With that, we went back to replenish our plates - you know how these seafood buffets are - there's a whole lot of shells for the actual food amount. Surprise, surprise... we returned to our table to find that everything to do with that course had been removed from our table, such as the bowl for the seafood shells, the water/lemon bowl for washing your hands. Maybe you're not meant to replenish your plate? However, isn't that a 'given' at a buffet? But here is the best (read worst) bit of all.... Our 1 litre of sparkling water had been delivered to our table in our absence... The lid taken off, glasses placed, but it seems it was far too much trouble to actually pour us a glass. Seriously. As I said, it's the little things - they just keep adding up. Desert - all I will say about that is - chocolate fountain - how on earth do you manage to water down chocolate soooooo much that it barely makes a colour on the marshmallow you dip into it. It's a talent......
Breakfast - breakfast two of the three mornings was in the Pavilion. I think it's more successful than the evening meal because it is entirely 'serve yourself'.... unless you order soft-boiled eggs. If you do that at the egg station you will be given the feeling that you really are putting them out when they say, "Well, we'll have to cook those in the kitchen".... Plus, soft-boiled eggs of 3 to 4 minutes cooking time seem to take them 15-20 minutes to cook (?) Small things.
Breakfast in the Admiral's Lounge on Sunday. Nothing special here. Self-service, but no hot breakfast available. If you try and find a staff member to assist you and you are successful, they may even unlock the fridge so you can get yourself a drink (other than juice).
Room service - Room service was exceptional and I could not fault it. I would choose room service rather than dinner at the Pavilion any day of the week. Make sure you sort out the return of your tray though, otherwise you risk getting an early morning call asking for them to be allowed to return and retrieve it - I advised them we were shortly checking out and they could have the whole damn room then. I can not recommend room service enough - there is less they can go wrong with - a common theme in the food/beverage area of this hotel. Room service food was of an excellent quality and I don't think the prices were outrageous.
Valet Parking - Many people have complained about the Valet parking at this hotel. I found it efficient (disclaimer - when you could find the bellhop, porter - if they weren't there, there was a wait of up to 10 minutes for someone to turn up and take your car keys from you). I think $25 is reasonable for Valet parking (I've never had it cost less than $50 in Melbourne). I found every single staff member of this team to be an asset to the hotel with their attitude and 'can do' service. Again, when they were there - I wonder where they go when they are not and there are no other people trying to give them their cars and keys. It's mysterious really!
Check In/Check Out - If you can avoid this part, in any way, do. Although their front desk it large with a number of computer terminals available for staff to conduct the checking in/out process, they seem unable to provide more than one staff member at a time for that task Consequently, people, including us, were lined up waiting to check in (it felt very 'cattle-like' for a 5 star hotel). I really would expect more of a 5 star hotel that has the reputation of being the best hotel in Canberra. We avoided the check out by signing the printed bill slipped under our door on our last night. I think that was a really good move as when we went downstairs to reception, there were 4 staff members behind the desk conducting what seemed to be an impromptu training day. We were lucky enough to capture one of these people's attention long enough to hand him our signed bill. As I said, avoid this bit if possible. Although I can't think of a way to GET the room key without having to go through this tedious process.
Parking/Valet - upon leaving - again, staff were no where to be seen (no vehicles in the drive). I carried all our luggage down the stairs. Had it been up to my wife, who has a severe physical disability, I do not think she would have been able to get the luggage down the stairs. The bellhop/parking person conveniently appeared when I got our luggage to our car and insisted on putting it in the boot. Yes. Small things. Small things you would expect not to exist in Canberra's best offering of a 5 star hotel.
Overall comments. If you can't be bothered reading my detailed review above, just read this. It wasn't as bad as I expected, given previous TripAdvisor reviews. However, I must say that for every single negative review I read, there was at least a degree of truth in what had been said. I think I could probably give this hotel a much higher rating if the service in food/beverage had been better AND if our suite WAS an actual suite, not just an adjoining room with a Murphy-bed. Would we stay here again? Yes, however I would not eat there apart from room service.There is no way in this world I would pay for the "suite/suit" again though. I would also know not to expect too much from check in/out and service on the driveway. This was our honeymoon weekend. It really could have been so much better. The facilities certainly have the capacity to be the best. I'd have to say that overall I'm left with a negative impression of our honeymoon weekend and am left wondering if I could have booked somewhere better for my beautiful wife.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Heritage Listed Hotel which retains many of the classic Art Deco design elements of the original building built in 1924. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hyatt Canberra
- Canberra Hyatt