Hilton Garden Inn Albany review: Inside the WA hotel built via GoPro

First published in Escape

September 24, 2022

Building a new hotel in regional Albany during the pandemic wasn’t easy. As well as the lack of building supplies and labour, Western Australia’s closed borders locked out the overseas-based project manager, a hurdle on-site crew overcame by wearing GoPros to film their work.

Covid has not been kind to tourism businesses in regional Western Australia. The building of a new five storey, 108 room hotel in Albany during the pandemic era wasn’t easy; the lack of supplies, labour and access to the state during lockdowns greatly hindered the project. 


Despite this, the Hilton Garden Inn opened in November 2021 and is running smoothly. Every staff member in this service focused hotel is genuinely lovely and capable. If you have a request, they go out of their way to exceed your expectations. All employees have been trained to use their own initiative to help their customers.


Built on the waterfront overlooking the Albany Marina, there’s a slight nordic noir feel to the location. When we arrive the light is fading and the islands of the harbour are in various shades of gunmetal grey, midnight blue and navy, the clouds gathering in ashen puffs above. As we drive along Albany’s highway towards the town, the tiny sailing boats that float with eerie calm on the surface of Princess Royal Harbour remind me of the town’s place in Australian history; this is where the fleet of ANZAC ships left Australian shores in 1914.


My third floor room is a King Panoramic Ocean View. Spacious, it has a light industrial feel with luxe furnishings; a leather bedhead, a bevy of pillows, a thick bedspread, and nautical style light shades that glow dimly, like a lantern in the night. A barn-style door slides across an airy open cupboard. I love the TV system that can be operated via a downloaded app on my phone, enabling me to lie in bed and change the channels. It’s similar to a remote, but without the remnant microbes of previous hotel guests, so more Covid-safe. 


Attention has been paid to the senses when designing the bathrooms; marble countertops and roomy showers (rainshower head and handheld option) cleverly pair with timber tile flooring which feels satisfyingly earthy underfoot. A shelf next to the sink is refreshingly practical for a hotel bathroom.


Unfortunately, I was disappointed to see the small single-use plastic bottles still in use (even though they were Crabtree and Evelyn and quite divine) instead of bulk toiletries. Throwing non-reusable plastic bottles into landfill just doesn’t sit well with guests any more. Management assures me that this change is planned but supply issues during Covid border shutdowns have impacted this. 


The highlight of the room is definitely the large square picture window with uninterrupted views out to the Princess Royal Harbour and the port.  A word of advice: When someone waved at me (on day three of my visit!) I learned that if you sit, scantily clad, on the banquette lounge and contemplate the golden light of sunrise, that anyone on the foreshore can see you, as clearly as you can see them.


An open kitchen at ground floor restaurant Together & Co. serves share plates and modern Australian meals; think fresh salads, arancini balls, croquettes, grilled meats, seafood and other local delights. The rooms are without a mini bar but there’s a ‘Grab and Go’ mini mart downstairs for snacks and drinks (hot and cold). 


On Sunday afternoons the bar has music and locals gather to celebrate the weekend. Regional  beers and wines are on the drinks menu and cocktails are fun and fabulous. Order a delicious cheese platter, pull up a stool or settle into one of the comfy bean bags for an afternoon of laughter and maybe even dancing!


Albany is well known as the terminus for the Bibbulmun track, and the Munda Biddi cycling Trail, and this hotel is a perfect place to wash off the days or weeks of trail dirt and relax in comfort after a big adventure. With the first stage completed and a second stage with rooftop bar soon to come, the first Hilton Garden Inn to open in Australasia is shaping up to be a fine addition to the accommodation scene in Albany. 


Price: (per night or packages): from $307 for King Panoramic room


The writer was a guest of the Holiday Garden Inn Albany and Tourism WA


Ratings:

Location

For modern, sophisticated accommodation with excellent water views, this is the jewel of Albany. The Footbridge makes light work of the trip to town.


9/10


Room

An ergonomic leather desk chair,  USB wall chargers and a bed with a view. What else does one need in a home away from home? 

9/10


Food

The buffet breakfast is back. Fill up on favourites from the bain marie or go continental. Together and Co offers a selection of modern Australian food.

7/10 


Verdict

A comfortable, cosmopolitan hotel in a regional town that offers culture and panoramic ocean views with good food, and accessibility for disabled travellers. Lots to love here.


8/10