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A Gentlemen’s Guide To A Romantic Weekend In Canberra

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1 of 11|EAT | Mocan & Green Grout|1/19 Marcus Clarke St, Newacton South
2 of 11|SEE | National Gallery of Australia|Parkes Pl, Canberra
3 of 11|SEE | Australian War Memorial|Treloar Cres, Campbell
4 of 11|STAY | Hotel Realm|18 National Circuit, Canberra
5 of 11|STAY | Hotel Realm|18 National Circuit, Canberra
6 of 11|STAY | Hotel Realm|18 National Circuit, Canberra
7 of 11|STAY | Hotel Realm|18 National Circuit, Canberra
8 of 11|EAT + DRINK | Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar|18 National Circuit, Canberra
9 of 11|EAT | Maple + Clove|7 Burbury Cl, Barton
10 of 11|SHOP | Lonsdale St Traders & Canberra Centre|Bunda St, Canberra
11 of 11|EAT + DRINK | Parlour Wine Room|16 Kendall Ln, New Acton

What comes to mind when you think of Canberra? Vast expanses of flat green grass and cement? Legal Uber, porn and fireworks, or perhaps Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott or old mate Turnbull? Well, no more.

We’ve done the investigating and believe it or not, NSW’s capital is a bonafide romantic getaway. Whether you’re in the bad books or just want to give the grand gesture of appreciation, Canberra is an unexpected lover’s paradise. Here’s how to do Canberra and woo your lover in less than 48 hours.

DAY 1

EAT | Mocan & Green Grout
1/19 Marcus Clarke St, Newacton South

As your first introduction to Canberra’s burgeoning foodie scene, you can’t go past Mocan & Green Grout. It’s a lush cafe (and maker of Godspeed Bicycles) that prides itself on supporting fair trade, sustainability and local produce. You can almost taste seasonal freshness from just looking at the menu. We recommend Cotechino sausage with poached eggs, pea, mint and lentils or the Beetroot Quinoa Salad with Labneh to get your day started the right way.

SEE | National Gallery of Australia
Parkes Pl, Canberra

If you and your significant other love a bit of culture, might we recommend popping into the National Gallery of Australia. There’s free parking on the weekend, plus plenty of walking around hand-in-hand and admiring art you don’t really understand. Highlights? The ‘World Is Beautiful’ photo exhibition (showing until 10 April 2016) featuring incredible snaps taken over the last 100 years from photographers including Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bill Henson, Robert Mapplethorpe and more. There’s also the bookstore and Tom Roberts Emporium pop-up which sells old Australiana themed books, homewares and men’s grooming products.

SEE | Australian War Memorial
Treloar Cres, Campbell

Opened in 1941, Canberra’s Australian War Memorial is a must-see if you’re up for a bit of good old fashioned Aussie appreciation. The memorial is massive: broken up into the Commemorative Area, the Memorial’s galleries and the Research Centre. Even just walking through the museum section of the memorial is enough to give you chills and feel proud to be from the land down under.

STAY | Hotel Realm
18 National Circuit, Canberra

…And you’ve made it. Bubble baths, complimentary chocolates and huge pillows await you and your lady at The Realm. On entry, you’ll be confronted by a huge hanging sculpture – maybe a quest to be more artsy than the last Canberra hotel? In fact, Hotel Realm sits pretty amongst other central Canberra hotels including The Little National Hotel and The Burbury.

As for rooms, we recommend the Upper House Suite. This room boasts a massive plush king sized bed, a massive view and, an even more massive TV. Beautiful wooden partitions break up the architecturally designed space which features a gas fireplace, balcony, motorised block-out blinds and the most epic spa bath you will ever experience. We are not joking. It’s incredible.

There’s a selection of fashion, art and culture coffee table books to get stuck into while you wait for her to get ready, or if you find that you’re the one sprucing up, there’s a mammoth shower head and plenty of Appelles toiletries, so you can smell incredible together.

Our only qualms? Hotel Realm’s Upper House Suite balcony overlooks the dingy carpark of The Little National Hotel and an expanse of dead grass. Sure, Parliament House is still in your sights but as ‘the most exclusive hotel room in Canberra’ the view isn’t groundbreaking. There’s also an extremely complicated lighting system, which we challenge you to master.

If you’re keen to explore the surrounding areas of Hotel Realm, there are some kitschy markets across the road, located in that Little National car park. With more craft beer, wine, vegan tacos, live indie music and hay bales than you can poke a stick at, the markets cement Canberra’s transition into hipster holiday destination.

EAT + DRINK | Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar
18 National Circuit, Canberra

Before dinner, why not head to the Ostani bar and restaurant next door for a cheeky pre-dinner wine or whisky in the balmy outdoor seating area.

From share plates, to charcuteries, grills and decadent desserts, Canberra’s newest hotspot, Buvette incorporates locally sourced produce and quality ingredients to deliver sophisticated dining from seasonal menus with a traditional Parisian feel.

Although only recently opened, Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar pulls out all the stops. We recommend sharing a bottle of the Henri de Villamont Bourgogne Pinot Noir over the Beef Tartare, Pan Fried Hiramasa Kingfish and Chocolate Assiette 3 Ways, or if you’re more of a herbivore, start with the Moreton Bay Bugs, followed by the Hand Rolled Gnocchi and the sweet tooth’s vice Vanilla Creme Brulee.

Before heading out, or off to bed, top off dinner with a night cap: perhaps La Buvette’s signature cocktail – the Lillet Mode De Vie, a dreamy shake of Lillet Blanc, Violet liquer, Pineapple, Lavender and winerose bitters, or the tall and loud Cacao-Pineapple-infused Tiki Hadid, named after the Victoria’s Secret bombshell herself.

Buvette manager Thommy also recommends his signature and award-winning Bloody Mary the next day when you’re feeling a little dusty.

All in all, we’d give Buvette Canberra a resounding 10/10. Pair amazing service with simplistic decor, an open and honest kitchen and sexy lighting and you’re in for a treat. Yes, it’s still a relatively quiet spot, not helped by the fact it could fall into the trap of being just a ‘hotel restaurant’, but you can easily imagine a bright and buzzing atmosphere when it fills up.

DAY 2

EAT | Maple + Clove
7 Burbury Cl, Barton

Continuing Canberra’s local and sustainable hipster foodie fad, Maple + Clove offers more of the same fresh deliciousness.

Located at the heart of the Real Precinct, Maple + Clove is synonymous with wholefoods – honest, nourishing and delicious natural goodness to power your mind, body and spirit for your week back at work.

From Maple + Clove’s Spring menu, we recommend the Maple Whole Waffle, made up of wholemeal spelt zucchini and sweet corn served with smoked King Salmon, confit tomato and slow-cooked egg, or the Free Range Egg White Omelette of green asparagus, zucchini, baby spinach and Snowy Mountain smoked trout served with a crunchy jicama and apple salad with seeded rye bread.

Family friendly with approachable greenhouse vibes, Maple + Clove is perfect for the morning after. They also serve very, very, very strong coffee, which helps.

SHOP | Lonsdale Street Traders & The Canberra Centre
Bunda St, Canberra

If you’re in the mood to shop, head down to Lonsdale St Traders for interesting homewares and nick nacks e.g. tiny salt and pepper spoons that seem to be everywhere in Canberra. Or walk down to the Canberra Centre for a menswear offering from brands like Hugo Boss, R.M. Williams, Rodd & Gunn, Roger David, Saba and Zara, but prepare for crowds if you’re heading in on the weekend.

EAT + DRINK | Parlour Wine Room
16 Kendall Ln, New Acton

Why not end the weekend on a high note at the Parlour Wine Room? A gorgeous and elegant space, with polished wooden tables, soft luxurious furnishings and glowing lighting, it’s your romantic afternoon oasis. Perhaps a solace from the screaming babies of the shopping centre.

We recommend a selection of the freshly shucked natural and elderflower sorbet oysters with a glass or two of the Politini Prosecco. If you’re more in the mood for a sweet afternoon treat and a bit of culture, cult cafe A. Baker is located behind the wine room as well as the Nishi Gallery and famous Hotel Hotel, as must-see for crazy hotel interior experts.

With plenty of art, culture, food and wine, Canberra is seriously stepping it up for romantic weekends away. We hope this gets you out of the doghouse, quick.

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