Lovers of food, wine, culture, and art will without a doubt appreciate the two-night gastronomy package offered by Novotel Canberra. I was lucky enough to experience it first-hand over the weekend which coincided with The Truffle Festival.
What’s included? Two nights of accommodation in a standard room, buffet breakfast for two each morning at One Restaurant, two tickets to The Ultimate Museum Experience at the National Museum of Australia (which get you a guided tour and a meal at the cafe), a regional tasting platter and wine tasting at Mount Majura Vineyard, plus a bottle of local wine.
But let’s get into the details.
I stayed in room 539 with Eric, which in fact turned out to be an apartment. Fitted out with a separate lounge room and kitchenette, it’s very spacious and comfortable. There are even two flat-screen TVs (because TVs are the greatest). I slept like a baby (which I don’t often do) in the comfortable king-sized bed. Adding to the comfort, we ordered our favourite pillows from the pillow menu.
The rain shower in the bathroom is excellent, and I liked the small touches like the inclusion of a body scrub, not just a body wash. I can’t say I see body scrubs in hotels often enough.
The hotel’s location is superb. If you’re coming to Canberra by coach, this is the ideal place to stay because the drop-off and pick-up point is in the same building as the Novotel. Plus it’s about a 15-minute walk to NewActon and a 10-minute walk to Braddon, both of which are dining hubs with first-rate restaurants and cafes.
Buffet Breakfast at One Restaurant
Each morning we enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel. The hot food offerings are good, with staples like bacon, scrambled eggs, sauteed potatoes, and roast tomatoes available. An array of cereals and fresh fruits gave good options for sweet breakfasts. And the most novel breakfast item was definitely the pancake machine. All you had to do was push a button, and two pancakes would magically appear after about a minute. A couple of Asian items like congee are also at hand.
Mount Majura Vineyard
We had a lovely time visiting Mount Majura Vineyard. The cellar door is charming and the vineyard is so picturesque, especially with kangaroos hopping around and hanging out. We left at around 5pm when dusk was settling in with pink hues.
Mount Majura’s tempranillo was a stand-out with strong peppery notes. It’s their flagship wine, and regular bottles were in fact sold out with only magnums or half bottles still available. We snagged up a half bottle to take to Sydney with us.
We hadn’t realised that we had a booking at the cellar door to experience their truffle brie with matched wines, but as we only figured this out as we were paying for our bottles of wine and the cellar door was closing. Upon this realisation, we were offered to take the truffle brie with us and were able to enjoy it back at the Novotel. The fresh truffles from next-door trufferie French Black Truffles of Canberra were infused in the brie for 48 hours before serving. Aromatic and creamy, it was a delight.
It’s also worth noting that Mount Majura is running truffle-related events during Truffle Festival this winter. Check out my review of the Truffle Festival here.
National Museum of Australia
Our tickets to The Ultimate Museum Experience included a guided tour of the museum and a meal with a glass of wine at the café. The one-hour guided tour of highlights at the National Museum of Australia was informative and interesting. There was a heap of information that we would have missed had we wandered around the museum ourselves.
For me it was especially great because history isn’t one of my main interests, but with a guide, it was much more thought-provoking. Seeing Phar Lap’s heart was quite incredible – the sheer size of it was mindboggling. But the Garden of Australian Dreams was my favourite because it was so symbolic. We learned that different maps are pressed down onto the concrete, a tunnel represents the mining industry, and blue poles symbolise Jackson Pollock’s ‘Blue Poles’ painting (which we saw at the National Gallery of Australia earlier that day).
For lunch we chow down on two fresh salad specials: the chicken Caesar salad with a glass of Riesling and a grilled haloumi, pumpkin and spinach salad with a cup of coffee.
Side note: if you like culture and art, make sure you visit the National Gallery of Australia, too. We spent about 90 minutes there before our museum visit, and we could have easily spent more time there. The James Turrell Skyscape called ‘Within Without’ was beautiful.
The gastronomy package is priced from $195 per room per night.
Package is available until 31 August 2015.
65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra ACT 2600
This article was originally published on the AU review. Eric and I were invited as guests of the Novotel Canberra to experience the gastronomy package and The Truffle Festival.