History buffs, Hobart is undoubtedly your oyster. Settled in 1804, Australia’s second oldest capital city offers a wealth of opportunities to connect with our colonial past, including the country’s best stock of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture. And if you really want to immerse yourself in the city’s past, consider one of these historic accommodation options.
1. Woodbridge on the Derwent, New Norfolk
So known because of an influx of Norfolk Island residents resettled here in the early 1800s following the first closure of the island’s penal colony, New Norfolk is located in the picturesque Derwent Valley, about 30 minutes drive from the centre of Hobart. It’s home to some very fine wineries, country pubs, antique stores and one of the country’s best boutique luxury guesthouses. Woodbridge on the Derwent just oozes historic charm. The property takes its name from the original wooden bridge that spanned the Derwent River here. The main building, which dates back to 1825, has had a number of incarnations over the years. It was fully restored in 2005 as a guesthouse and is Tasmania’s only member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Each of the eight suites has river views and the shared drawing and tea rooms are an absolute treat. Enjoy a four course set menu dinner in the Pavilion, where breakfast is also served. www.woodbridgenn.com.au
2. Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart
The Henry Jones Art Hotel is without doubt one of the hottest hotel addresses in Hobart. Housed in a converted 19th century jam factory (H Jones and Co Pty Ltd, IXL) on the Hunter Street waterfront, the hotel offers 56 art-adorned rooms and suites that blend contemporary finishes with period features. There are some 400 pieces of art on display around the hotel, creating a sophisticated atmosphere that’s guaranteed to hit the jam-inspired sweet spot for most guests. Henry’s Restaurant takes its inspiration from seasonal Tassie produce, while the IXL Long Bar provides the perfect location for a pre-dinner cocktail from the extensive list on offer. Most of Hobart’s main attractions and the MONA Brooke Street Ferry Terminal are within comfortable walking distance. Book well in advance. www.thehenryjones.com
3. Hadley’s Hotel, Hobart
Convict blood sweat and tears were the true cornerstones of many of Hobart’s grand Georgian buildings and Hadley’s Orient Hotel is one of them. Built by convicts in 1834 (and later actually owned for a spell by an ex-con) this is one of the oldest heritage hotels in the country. It offers old world charm and a superb location right in the heart of the city. Salamanca and the rest of the waterfront attractions are an easy stroll. The hotel was extensively refurbished in 2014 but has unashamedly retained that connection to yesteryear. High tea is served most afternoons between 2 and 5 and Hadley’s Orient Bar is a cracker of a spot for a nightcap. www.hadleyshotel.com.au
4. Islington, Hobart
For those who enjoy the finer things in life, Islington is possibly Hobart’s best boutique hotel. Located in South Hobart, about a 20-minute walk to the harbour (downhill), the house dates back to 1847 and was built in the Regency style, which was a little unusual for the Hobart of the day. To learn more, download the hotel’s history fact sheet from their website – it’s a very interesting read. Described at the time of completion as a ‘commodious and genteel residence’ today the hotel effortlessly blends the old and the new. With just 11 spacious suites, elegantly populated with custom-made king-size beds, gorgeous furnishings and some serious objets d’art, the accompanying garden and views of Mount Wellington are a real treat. The Islington’s collection of fine art and antiques is in some ways the perfect foil for MONA’s polarising modern collection. Perhaps combine the two during your stay. www.islingtonhotel.com
5. Historic pubs offering accommodation
Hobart is not short of historic pubs. There’s one on just about every corner and most of them appear to have some claim to a spot on the leader board of Australia’s oldest watering holes. Many do offer accommodation and while you may need to pack earplugs, if you really want to immerse yourself in Hobart’s early nefarious seafaring history, this is a good way to do it.
The Customs House Hotel on the waterfront near Salamanca offers various accommodation options (with a discount for the rooms located right over the bar). A tunnel once connected the hotel to Parliament House opposite, for the discreet convenience of the great and good of the day. www.customshousehotel.com
The Brunswick Hotel on Liverpool Street is another option – it’s been watering the locals since it was constructed by convict hands in 1827. www.brunswickhotelhobart.com.au
Over in beautiful Battery Point, the Shipwrights Arms Hotel (the ‘Shippies’) was established in 1846 and offers quirky accommodation with free Wi-Fi. www.shipwrightsarms.com.au
Adam Ford is a travel presenter, writer, blogger, commentator and editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide – www.thebigbus.com.au.
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