With views to Parliament House and the surrounding leafy suburb of Barton, Hotel Realm is one of the few five-star hotels to retain its charm while consistently engaging the contemporary. This is far more difficult than it sounds, particularly when your client base is predominantly government workers mid-week and art tourists on weekends. DOMA group, however, has done well to continue as they started with a standout offering. The latest iteration includes the new flagship restaurant, Louis Dining and garden bar, The Terrace, both by the impresarios of hospitality, Luchetti Krelle

Set within the burgeoning dining destination of Barton, Luchetti Krelle’s reduced natural palette of marble, leather, textured glass and bronze feels quietly European. It’s in-keeping with the menu: “Hotel Realm’s new development amplifies the Barton precinct’s current rise as Canberra’s new foodie hotspot. The multitude of new outlets and offerings gathered in one space fills a gap in the overall offering of our capital’s culinary scene,” says Patrick Lonergan, DOMA Hotels director.

As such, the hotel aims to bring a layered culinary selection to the heart of the Australian capital. Under the direction of esteemed chef, two-hatted Ben Willis (ex-Aubergine), there is also a very good chance it will meet its mark. Indeed, the experience is impressively continental with a room that pairs well to the culinary offering.

“When guests enter Louis, they’ll be delighted by the level of luxe and the way in which the space is picking up on a distinctly European feel, especially in the courtyard,” says Rachel Luchetti, Luchetti Krelle co-founder (with business partner Stuart Krelle). “We love featuring natural products where we can, and showcasing honesty in materiality. But we also love the luxury aspect of materials, as seen in the marble, and the leather that we’ve sourced from regional New South Wales,” says Luchetti.

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Compounding the European ambience, there is a warm tonal harmony to the dining room delivered via hardwood tables with caramel-hued bentwood chairs. These are augmented by cane-backed Hoffmann bar stools (Thonet) and upholstered banquettes in caramel leather and velvet. Creating theatre are sculptural pendant lighting and antique gilt-framed paintings of lush flowers. The revitalised bar, while creating an intriguing end point to the room, presents a beautifully lit custom marble mosaic facade.

“The bar behaved more like a dispense bar in its previous life, so we wanted to create a focal point with it, making it an area that was comfortable – that guests can walk up to – where there’s a bit of a buzz,” says Luchetti. 

Effectively delivering a precinct within the hotel, the nearby garden and courtyard area, which has been partially enclosed during the refurbishment, has been reinvented as an indoor space. “By including the new glass canopy in the courtyard we’ve achieved the feeling of stepping into an atrium, and in Canberra it’s important to have that protection and climate control,” says Luchetti. With weather that precludes outdoor dining for much of the year, an enclosed outdoor space is essential. 

Compounding this is The Terrace, a garden bar, also designed by Luchetti Krelle. Sharpening the European sensibility to be more specifically French, with garden furniture, custom double-sided banquettes in French and navy blues and tabletops lined with cream, white and terracotta-toned mosaic tiles (Rendition), the Terrace is both chic and relaxed.

“Guests will want to stay all afternoon following lunch, or they’ll arrive early for dinner and have a drink under the sparkle of festoon lights. The space is all about thermal comfort, acoustic comfort and comfortable seating. It includes all of those things that make for a welcoming atmosphere all year round,” says Luchetti.

This last is important: Louis is welcoming, and stands out for being so. “We really hope that people feel like they’ve been transported to Europe – even just a little bit. To have achieved that feeling of escapism would be an ideal outcome,” says Luchetti.

Luchetti Krelle 

Romello Pereira 

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