Hotel review: Islington Hotel, Hobart

Originally published on australiantraveller.com

Boasting a world-class art collection and wow-factor mountain views, the Islington Hotel is one of Hobart’s most elegant – and surprising – boutique stays.

Where

The Islington Hotel 321 Davey St, South Hobart, TAS, 7000

What to expect

Hobart’s Islington Hotel, secluded behind high gates, gives the impression that it is an exclusive private home. Beyond the perimeter walls is a peaceful, Andrew Pfeiffer-designed garden, containing flowers, birds, a one-hundred-year-old weeping willow tree and a serene pond, enhancing the tranquility of this delightful boutique property. But it is the sight of the stunning kunanyi/Mt Wellington that the eye and the heart is drawn to. My garden room has an uninterrupted view of the Organ Pipes and the spectacle of this mountain that overlooks the city. Staff member Elise tells me that for locals the mountain is a symbol of stability: it protects them, harbours them, holds their stories, and they love that it’s always been there, a comforting presence in an increasingly uncertain world.

First built as a private home in 1847, the property has 11 guestrooms, all individually appointed with luxe leather armchairs, candelabras and chandeliers; an extensive array of Whiteleys, Warhols, and even works by Matisse and Picasso pepper the walls. Perhaps in the art world these are easy pieces to come by but for a layperson it is a surprising delight to see these works outside of a museum or gallery. In some parts grand and opulent, in others, understated and elegant, the hotel’s decor occasionally has a touch of African safari; animal print lounges and furry bedspreads are juxtaposed with modern furniture and Regency architecture in a distinctly historical and homely collection. The property is an ode to the travels, experiences and art collections of directors David Meredith and John Goodyear.

The Library, the Morning Room and the Rose Room are all elegant spots to sit and either play chess, read or contemplate the world. Each has a distinct ambience. The poetry carved into the grand bookshelf doors was first penned by David’s ancestor, the writer, artist and botanist, Louisa Anne Meredith. Whilst the Tasmanian state library contains many of her works (paintings and sketches), Louisa’s original books, Over the Straits; a Visit to Victoria and My Home in Tasmania, are on display in the library on site.

The rooms

The room has a king-size bed, loaded with plump pillows. It’s made up with crisp white sheets and a heavy doona, and can be separated into two singles on request. As a room divider, there are huge heavy drapes to draw across to shield guests from the bright morning sun which streams through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Despite the wonderful artworks on display around this hotel, kunanyi/Mt Wellington is the most breathtaking natural picture here.

The leather armchairs with gold frames are a simple nod to the modern traveller. These pieces were recently delivered from Vietnam where they were made to order. With matching glass tables echoing the gold frame holding books about Tasmania and the history of the hotel, they are lovely to relax in after a day’s travelling or touring.

The bathroom is enormous and the surfaces are smooth marble. The deep oval freestanding bath beckons and I fill it and sprinkle a jar of the provided bath crystals over the surface. Using the Aesop soaps and body balm adds extra luxury to an already decadent experience. A fluffy towel and a huge dressing gown wrap up the evening.

Entering the room after dinner, staff have completed the turndown service. Calming sleep music wafts out from the room’s iPad and the lights are dimmed. A tray with a teapot, and a square of chocolate Baileys fudge lies in wait on my luxurious king size bed.

A little dish of Islington Dream tea, touted as a ‘tried and tested Tasmanian brew [that] encourages the perfect night’s sleep’ sits next to a china teapot. This special touch really makes me feel welcome.

The hotel has free wi-fi, of course, and the room has a flat screen TV with cable channels for guests.

Restaurants and bars

The Conservatory Restaurant is the centrepiece of the hotel. The double-height windows have views of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, manicured gardens and rambling kitchen garden beds. Tomato plants burst out of the middle of manicured low hedges like unruly children. Lavender, strong and green, stands up like sentinels on the borders. The infinity pool glistens in the sun the morning I am there and reflects the bright blue sky.

As well as using food grown on site, the chef, Zac Shearer, creates sensational food from local fare, composting food waste and recycling as much as possible to ensure the sustainability of the property. A continental breakfast showcasing seasonal, organic, Tasmanian food – delicious homemade fig yoghurt, muesli, stewed fruit, cakes, croissants, all in miniature – is available as well as a cooked-to-order breakfast. Homemade cakes and biscuits are laid out for guests all day on a table near the kitchen.

The conservatory is an airy space, but has cosy corners in which to enjoy a meal, especially when the open fireplace is roaring. Dinner is served from Wednesday to Sunday during summer. Meats and seafood from King Island and Cape Grim form the basis of this menu and everything from sourdough to preserves are created in the kitchen.

The verdict

The Islington is an elegant, picturesque hotel with great food, little luxuries and welcoming staff to enhance your stay.

WE RATED

When I arrive, there is a private function underway but the hotel manager on duty comes to meet me in the car park. There is no reception desk, just a large welcoming hallway and parlour rooms off either side. The staff have an excellent ability to make guests feel special and comfortable. I really do feel like I’m visiting people I know, being welcomed warmly into their home and their lives. Excellent service is de rigueur at five-star boutique hotels, but the personal connections with Zac, Elise, Jess and the rest of the team well exceeded my expectations.

THINGS TO NOTE

This is a property focused on tranquility and rest. As such, children over 15 are welcomed but younger children are not able to be catered for.

ADVICE FOR OTHER TRAVELLERS

If possible, try to spend more than one day here to make good use of all the leisure spaces. If you book three nights, The Islington provides an airport transfer service.

Go soon to enjoy the view of kunanyi/Mt Wellington. Plans are underway to build a cable car across the Organ Pipes and the face of the mountain so it may never be the same again.

THE LOCATION

Follow the Rivulet Walk for 30 minutes to Salamanca Place, home to the famous Saturday markets and great cafes, restaurants and shops. The Mona ferry leaves from the wharf in town. The Islington is on the road up to kunanyi/Mt Wellington, and from here you can branch off on various bushwalks; the Rivulet Walk can also be taken up to the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site (25 minutes).

PRICE

From $240 per night for an attic room and from $345 per night for a garden room with mountain views. Luxe packages are available for guests staying longer than three nights which include chauffeured transport to and from the airport and a personally tailored itinerary for the duration of your stay.