AgostinisaustraliaBisa PropertyCanberraEast HotelE

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first_imgAgostinisaustraliaBisa PropertyCanberraEast HotelEast Hotel CanberrahotelsMuse Food Wine and BooksReview All images: Katrina HoldenJars of Jaffa and Strawberries and Cream lollies sit on a large bench with MAC computers for guest-use. A pink neon sign illuminated with ‘You had me at Pizza’ contrasts against the recycled timber paneled walls.  A central atrium with a limitless sky-effect features comfy sofas, leather ottomans and a large spotted rug. A row of bikes line the entrance, tempting guests to explore the cycle-friendly surrounds of Canberra.I’m in Canberra’s fashionable Manuka precinct checking in to East Hotel — a family-owned operation by the Bisa family and opened in 2012. The hotel’s street frontage exudes a contemporary, chic vibe without being overly glossy or stuffy, which seems to reflect the clientele the hotel attracts.“Our guests don’t want to be fussed over,” says General Manager, Todd Handy. Having grown up in the US and with an extensive career working in several five-star hotels, including Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Handy says the people that stay, and return to East Hotel want attentive, friendly service but they don’t like to have everything done for them.“So we’ve really trained our staff with this in mind. They’ll approach our guests and offer to help with bags, but usually they have just driven from Sydney and they really just want to get out of the car,” says Handy.The service is what Director, Dion Bisa says her family’s company pride themselves on. Dion and her brother Dan, director of Bisa Property were behind the hotel’s build and incarnation. Their parents, now retired, were the first to open serviced apartments in Canberra — which has driven the philosophy behind East Hotel. The rooms feature the amenities of a serviced apartment which are popular with their frequent business guests who just want to feel at home while travelling for work, but also want the additional amenities and services found in a hotel.Leisure travellers are also a large portion of visitors — everyone from couples, girlfriends on a getaway to visit the many gallery exhibitions; and many families.“There’s not many places you can go with kids and where you know they will be welcome,” said Dion. That’s not the case at East Hotel. On this visit, I’m here without my kids and while I notice the other families visiting, the kids just seem to seamlessly blend in. That’s a result of the Bisa’s careful planning to ensure the kids are catered for. In the lobby, I notice some youngsters getting ready on their scooters for a neighbourhood exploration; I chat with a couple in the lift cuddling their 10-week old baby; kids are dining at the hotel’s Italian eatery Agostini’s, some enjoying the Mamma Mia one-metre long pizza; two tweens join their dad in the gym the morning I visit; and of course, a few of them have a good crack at those lobby Jaffas. In the kids’ rooms, they have access to Xbox360 Connect Games and even a child-appropriate mini bar! The goal was, explains Bisa, to have a restaurant that serves great quality food that parents are really happy to dine at but also caters for kids and makes them feel welcome. As General Manager Todd Handy adds, “If the kids are happy, the parents are happy”.The dining experience at Agostinis is certainly impressive. Many locals coming back for the food and service, not just the hotel guests. Everything is made on site and in-house. Walking past in the afternoon, you can see the staff hard at work kneading pizza dough or slicing charcuterie. Each dish on the menu has a recommended wine pairing. You must try the Beppo’s Blend, a wine contract-made by winemaker Bryan Martin at local winery Ravensworth whom Bisa describes as a “genius”. It’s a blend of sangiovese, nebbiolo and barbera and named after their nonno Beppo.Patriach of the Bisa family Joe is not forgotten — with Joe’s Bar named in his honour. It too has colourful furnishings, a cheese and charcuterie fridge, a whimsical ‘concrete curtain’, beaded chandeliers and more than 35 gins to try.Joe’s Bar. Positioned alongside the hotel (but separately owned) is Muse Food Wine and Books. It’s the logical place for breakfast and tables in small and large configurations means there are nooks for both couples and big groups catching up over their morning espresso as they plan their Canberra sightseeing strategies. Shelves bulge with beautiful books and wine bottles, while a rustic grand piano sits tucked in a corner. Muse Wine Food and Books. The hotel is ideally positioned to make the most of Canberra’s attractions. The National Gallery of Australia is a short drive away for instance, close to nearby science and technology centre and kids-mecca, Questacon.  The hotel is currently offering packages on Cartier: The Exhibition which start from $270 for a couple for one night; and also family packages. The Cartier Exhibition, ending on 22 July, is well worth a visit. Read our review here. Travel Monitor MemosEast Hotel69 Canberra AvenueKingston140 rooms in total38 East Studios (31sqm)2 Kids studios/cubbies (31sqm)16 Luxe studios (43sqm)60 East one bedroom apartments (63sqm)20 Luxe one bedroom apartments (57sqm)20 East two bedroom apartments (interconnecting East apartment and East studio) (94sqm)20 Luxe two bedroom apartments (interconnecting Luxe apartment and East studio) (88sqm)Free wifi throughout the hotelPillow menusBabysitting servicesCheck out time: 12pmIn-room Nespresso machines24-hour gymNo pool but nearby is the Manuka PoolFree bike hire Bisa says that most of their visitors are from Sydney.  “We’re really seeing a big increase in both families and couples that just want to escape Sydney for a weekend.”The Italian-style hospitality encouraged in staff definitely is noticed throughout the guest experience — at check-in, at Joe’s Bar and at Agostinis, the hotel’s eatery named in honour of Dan and Dion Bisa’s mother Marisa who grew up in Northern Italy.The brief of ‘fun’ for Agostinis interior was realised by designer Kelly Ross who Bisa loved working with on the project for her vision and wild, original ideas including a ‘concrete curtain’ in Joe’s bar.Dion Bisa and Todd Handy in front of the old family photo of the original Agositins bar in Italy. At Agostini’s, there are design cues to the family’s Italian heritage with a vintage Vespa taking pride of place near the kitchen, colourful geometric floor tiles, circular leopard-print dining booths and hand-dyed ropes hanging from the roof to represent hand-made pasta hanging to dry. The most striking feature would be the large mural enlarged black and white photo against one wall depicting an old Italian bar, also named Agositins. “Mum casually said to us one day that she remembers her family used to have a bar called Agostinis back in Italy when she was a child. This was after we’d already decided to name the restaurant Agositins!”last_img read more