Old and Tired Hotel
Went to Canberra on a business trip and decided to stay in the Rydges as the seminar I attended was held there.
Well, nothing special really. For the price i paid, i am not so happy with my stay. The hotel looks tired and old. Rooms are not so great and the bathroom is quite worn with moldy shower curtains.
The only thing I like in the hotel is their restaurant, which served a good paella.
I'll definitely stay somewhere else if I come back to canberra.
Older hotel. Not my favourite.
I stayed at the Rydges Capital Hill for 5 nights during October 2007. I payed $186AUD/night for a superior queen room.
I was disappointed that even though I paid a decent rate, they explicitly disqualified it from earning frequent flyer points. I think this is pretty poor from a frequent flyer partner hotel.
This is an older hotel located a short distance from Parliament House, and about 10 minutes walking distance from the Manuka Cafe strip. The city center which offers a much better selection of restaurants is a 10 minute cab ride away.
I stayed at the hotel due to it's close proximity to our company's Canberra office, and the client site where I was working. My room was on the ground floor facing Canberra Ave.
Overall, the room was a bit old and tired. I think the clock-radio might have been older than me. Even though the bed had two matresses pushed together, it was extremely comfortable. The TV had local and a couple of business channels only.
The bathroom was ok. The shower had very good water pressure, and the provided amenities were decent quality.
I'd probably try and stay at a different hotel next time. If I was to stay here again, it would be purely based on the location being within walking distamce to our office.
Mixed feelings; ask me again next year.
I booked into a king spa suite with balcony at the Rydges Capital Hill
for two nights over the Xmas/new year period, but ended up switching rooms after the first night. In a non-typical way for my reviews, I'm going to hit you with the negatives first. In part that's because it's
the way I experienced the hotel; not so good at the start (except for the receptionist and parking, both of which I had no complaints at all
about), much better (if still lacking a little) at the end.
The corridor leading to my first room was at least 2 years overdue for
a repaint and (arguably) a re-carpet. There were uncleared room service trays outside about half of the rooms at 5.30pm (finding a bowl of half-eaten cereal outside your room is SUCH a welcoming touch), but to be fair that may have been due to holiday season staff shortages. My first room had a funky smell-from-Hell which seemed to get worse as the night progressed (either that or my resistance to it was just worn down), and carpet which was damp. (As was the bottom of the wicker tray holding the guest directory, which had been left on the bed. Thankfully that didn't wet the sheets.) The right hand side of the first bed was soft to the point of being saggy; it was probably
the side that most singles slept on since you can't get a clear view of the TV screen (an old CRT which isn't on a turntable) from the left
side. The same phenomenon affected the second bed, but to a lesser extent. As others have observed, the wooden furniture in both rooms had so many scratches that it looked like granny's hand-me-downs, and the radio was so old that I was afraid to turn it on lest I hear the latest announcements from the Fraser government. There's no in-room safe; there's a bedside cabinet which locks, but there's no key. The message light was flashing on both of the first room's telephones, and
it couldn't be turned off. (Thus, when I turned out the lights the room had the ambience of the USS Enterprise on red alert. I DID get to
sleep (until my nose decided that it had had enough of the smell around 4am and woke me up to complain about it), though not without dreams of Klingons off the starboard bow.)
[Deep breath...] Every time I tried to dial an outside line (in both rooms) I'd get a message saying that "the number dialled is not authorised"; the broadband cable in both rooms had "limited or no connection" (make that "no"; maybe the Klingons were jamming both); the room "Entertainment Guide" had listings for the various Fox sport channels that I had no interest in watching but no listing for the free to air or other cable channels; the top 10% of CNN's screen image
appeared at the bottom of the screen (this was the case with all of the TVs including those in the public areas, so it's clearly an issue with the central feed); I have no idea whether any in-room movies were
available since when I turned on the TV (in both rooms) it advised me that the room was unoccupied (so the main Menu button was disabled); the gym's open for an abnormally small window of time each day and nobody mentioned an $8.80 charge for using it (the pool is free, though); I was overcharged $9 for the second day's breakfast, a fact that I would have noted before I left had a draft of the bill been left under my door on the morning of departure as it is in most hotels;... aaaand just to top it off when you bring up the hotel home page via the wireless broadband connection (which DID work (kinda sorta) unlike the wired one) the temperatures for Canberra were shown in degrees Fahrenheit. That's a system which hasn't been used in this country for over 30 years and would be meaningless to most Australians under the age of 60 and pretty much all other non-USA residents.
I often read Trip Advisor reviews from people who declare that particular hotels are "not up to [whatever]-star standard", and I give you fair warning that those people are NOT going to like this hotel at all if they stay in the room(s) that I did. But I urge you to read the rest of the review, because honestly it wasn't ALL bad and the longer I stayed here, the more I liked this hotel despite its shortcomings.
The Rydges Capital Hill is located (not coincidentally) near Capital Hill and Parliament House in the suburb of Forrest. The area is partly residential (homes as well as serviced apartments), and partly commercial (government offices, law firms, etc). Manuka shops are within walking distance if you're reasonably fit. (Say 10 to 15 minutes.) There are no views to speak of. Canberra's renown for providing a fair amount of theoretically green space through parks and wide nature strips along and between lanes of its roadways, but it's not always of the verdant and manicured variety. Rather, it's often patches of dirt where someone has whacked in a few trees, and some grasses have been left to fend for themselves. That's the kind of green space you'll see from the hotel. Far from ugly, but far from Elysian.
The area's pleasant and safe though, and in any case the ambience won't matter if you're seeking a hotel to use as a base only. It's not that far away from Parliament House, but not that close to the central business district either. However Canberra isn't a massive sprawl and getting from one place to another doesn't require a long drive.
The underground car park's entrance and exit is on Canberra Avenue. You need to check in before you can enter it since it's accessed by a keycard, but there's a set-down / check-in space right outside the front door as well as several outdoor parking spaces just beyond that. I paid $10 per day for parking, which is pretty reasonable considering that you can get hammered for $35 for 3 hours parking in Sydney. In my review of the Crowne Plaza Canberra I made the mistake of tempering my words a little too much by saying that the car park was "fairly spacious"... then the next several reviews after mine made a point of how bad the parking is. That's a fair cop; I had no problem there myself, but I didn't make it clear enough (and should have) that the number of spaces was nowhere near adequate for a hotel of that size WHEN it's near peak capacity especially considering that it also services the Casino and restaurant. I believe that the Rydges would have less of a problem, however. For a start, it's a much smaller hotel. I couldn't get a good count of the parking spots (some have been blocked off for other purposes like storage, for example) but I'd estimate the functional spaces to be well north of 100 and probably closer to 150. There may be instances when they run out of space but it would, I think, be rare.
The building consists of three floors plus the basement car park, and is shaped like two quarter circles joined together. (The floors are 1, 2 and 3, not G, 1 and 2 so I'll refer to them accordingly.) There are guest rooms on each of the three floors. The reception area is immaculate, and the atrium area (which leads through to the restaurant) has live trees and water features creating an attractive dell-like effect. Granted, the revolving doors don't work and you need to enter using the sliding doors, but that's no loss.
A passageway to the right of the main doors leads off to some of the level 1 rooms. A walkway to the left leads past Reception, a few offices (a florist shop, a sales office for the Thredbo snowfields, a car rental business and a wedding and function organiser), and the Acacia lounge which looks out over Canberra Avenue. It continues on to the InBarGo bar (which was closed for the Xmas/new year break), and a glass door at the start of a further hallway containing more level 1 rooms (including the first one that I had).
(It would have been interesting to see whether the noise from the bar could be heard from the rooms in that wing, though with the presence of the glass door and the fact that there's a reasonable space buffer between the bar and the first room it probably wouldn't be a problem. Besides, it doesn't look like the sort of bar that attracts trouble.)
A couple of PCs are located just off from the Acacia lounge and can be booked at Reception. Conference rooms are located on level 2.
My rooms can be seen in the pictures. I don't know how long it's been since they've been (fully) refurbished, but I expect that it's been a while given the scratches on the furniture, the archaic design of the bedside alarm (which wasn't working in the second room; a small electric alarm clock was provided instead) and a certain amount of corrosion in the bathroom fittings. (Though it's minor; the bathrooms in my rooms have a few years left in them.) A clue can be found in a telephone handset near the spa in the second room; it had the old Telecom Australia logo on it. That was discontinued when the organisation morphed into Telstra back in 1993. The spas are also of an older design I suspect, since they lack more modern niceties like armrests or different seating positions.
The overall effect is "old and tired" rather than "relentlessly shabby". The rooms are very neat and clean and more than spacious enough for one or two people (though the second room was a bit tight with the sofa extended into a bed), but if you're expecting luxurious furnishings you'll probably be disappointed. On the other hand if you just need a place to sleep and eat, you probably won't care that much. The work desks and chairs do appear to be new, however. In response to a previous review the hotel's manager mentioned a program of refurbishment being undertaken; that would seem to be so, as I noticed a stack of the old furniture (presumably extracted from refurbished rooms) down in the garage.
My first room had a balcony (such as it was), and you can see the view (such as IT was) in one of the photos. Oddly there was no fly screen door which meant that as soon as you open it (in summer, at least) a number of flies will invite themselves in. Unfortunately the Rydges lacked the foresight of another hotel which had a similar problem; I recall that Peppers at Leura put a can of fly spray in each room. That would be a good idea here as well especially in the summer months.
One interesting feature was the presence of a Do Not Disturb light outside the rooms which is controlled by a switch beside the bed. My guess is that this idea didn't catch on because it's easier to notice and replace a missing piece of cardboard on a doorknob than it is to replace a dead light bulb. Still, interesting.
I found that the air conditioning worked well enough, though it's not climate controlled; there's no thermostat for you to set the temperature, just a sliding scale from "warm" to "cool". You can feel the nostalgia in the pictured state-of-the-1980's-art controls.
The usual features (ample mini-bar, basic hair dryer, ironing board, etc) are present and accounted for. There was no dining table in either room though the coffee table in the first one was large enough to hold two trays. Checkout time is the typical 11am.
The Rydges web site shows that other alternatives are Superior Deluxe rooms (pretty much your common or garden room from the description), and a range of increasingly well-equipped suites. The king spa rooms that I occupied seem to have been about mid-range in the hotel's offerings.
I had already spoken to a receptionist about the telephone problems on the first evening. (I didn't try the Internet until the following morning.) She tried a few things on her computer and told me to try again, but I still had the same problems. Reception then put me through to the numbers that I needed to call without any problem. (But $3.30 for a call to a mobile number which went to voice mail and lasted (literally, from the bill) 2 seconds?! Holy guacamole! I don't normally use hotel phones for making calls and don't know whether that's typical. I usually use my mobile... but it was my own mobile that I was trying to call in the hope that someone had picked it up after I'd lost it on the way down to Canberra.)
On the second morning it occurred to me that no-one had asked me about newspapers, and there was nothing in the guest directory about them either. I was going to ask Reception about it but didn't have to; my favourite papers were sitting outside my door that morning. Then I realised; I had booked as a Rydges Priority Guest, and had specified my preferred papers in my profile. A tick mark for that one.
However I still had to speak to Reception about the phone, and the Internet, AND asked whether she knew what had caused the smell and the damp carpet. She mentioned that the carpets had recently been cleaned, which could account for the latter issues and suggested, without prompting, that she move me to another room. I thus packed my bags and headed to a room on level 2.
This was also a king spa suite, though without a balcony (which wasn't really missed). I doubt that it was originally intended for a single guy since the sofa had been pulled out into a bed and there was an "Angels" colouring-in book and pack of coloured pencils on it. I suppose that they could have been left there to get me to practice colouring inside the lines so that I wouldn't notice the absence of the Internet.
As I mentioned, the broadband wireless signal was clear and I COULD have used that; the problem is that you need to connect via the wired outlet to accept the charges and get a login and password to use first, and I couldn't do that in EITHER room. Reception suggested that I call them from the room and I would be put through to the help desk overseas. Had Internet access been critical, I'd probably have had no choice; but as it was I didn't feel like being on hold for who knows how long before being connected to someone who may or may not speak English very well and who would probably want to walk me through diagnostic tests which would simply prove, in the end, that there was no data coming through the cable.
So I did without. Not a great burden because it was a holiday weekend, but not a great experience either.
The receptionist told me that the charges were $0.50 per minute capped at $27.50 per day, though if you're registered as a Rydges Priority Guest one of the perks is supposed to be cheaper Internet access. (I didn't find out how much cheaper since it was academic to me.)
There's a gym and indoor pool at the hotel. Unfortunately I didn't get to sample (or photograph) either one. My trusty sidekick Fat Max (my industrial tape measure) didn't have a chance to measure the pool either, but it's about 3 lanes wide and long enough to do a decent lap. However it's only useful for reasonably good swimmers with the depth running from 1.3 metres to (sigh) 2.1 metres according to the wall markings. It's open from 8am to 8pm. The gym, on the other hand, is apparently only open from 8 am to 4 pm. Why, I have no idea, though the fact that it's apparently open only when an attendant is there is part of that. The hours are even shorter over the holidays. I phoned Reception one afternoon just after 3 to confirm the 4pm closure, and was told that it had already closed for the day.
You know, we don't really NEED someone to be there to run the gym; most other hotels get along just fine by leaving us to our own devices.
Looking in from the outside, the gym appears to have a few treadmills, a few cycles, some fixed weight machines and some free weights. Sorry I can't be more precise; I promise that Max and I will do better at the next hotel.
As already mentioned the hotel has a bar (open at 5pm 7 days during most of the year) and lounge, but the main dining facility is the Fig Tree Café and it's here that (for the most part) the hotel really starts to shine.
It offers a buffet breakfast from 6:30 to 10:30 (though it opened at 7:00 when I was there because of the holiday break), an all day menu from 10:30am to 10:30pm, and has the option of an a la carte or (on Friday and Saturday nights) a buffet dinner. (Though again the buffet wasn't available on the weekend that I was there.)
I had no problem getting in but again this was during a non-peak period; I do suggest that if you want to dine in the restaurant you contact the hotel to make a booking when you book your stay given that the restaurant is fairly small. Bear in mind that the same menu is also available for room service, though, so even if you can't get in, you don't miss out.
The restaurant is shown in one of the photos. The glass ceilings and the plants in the nearby atrium provide a very pleasant dining atmosphere.
The buffet breakfast gets full marks; it's as good as I've seen it done anywhere, and way better than most. It offers a huge range of cereals, hot dishes, beverages and bakery items, and all of the hot dishes were very well cooked. I had booked breakfast at the time of booking my stay, and was charged at $15 per day on the confirmation. However only later did I find the second day charged at $24. Hmm. (Though based on other hotels, $24 for a full buffet breakfast wouldn't have been unusual and I wouldn't have baulked at it.)
Most of the All Day Dining dishes are in the (very reasonable) $15 to $20 range; the most expensive was fish and chips with green salad at $21.
A light salad menu consisting of 3 dishes with meat ingredients (chicken, turkey or tuna) and three which are strictly vegetarian has prices ranging between $14.50 and $15.50.
Entrees range from roasted garlic and herb ciabatta at $6 to grilled split jumbo prawns at $16.50. (Oysters are also available at $22 (natural) or $25 (Kilpatrick) per dozen.) Mains are mostly in the $25 to $30 range, though prime beef servings sneak up to $32 for the prime NSW Hereford Eye Fillet. (Which, may I add, was worth every cent. I noticed that a previous reviewer mentioned the chicken breast ($27.50) which I had via room service on the first night; I'd also second that recommendation, especially with the peppercorn sauce.) Sides are $8, and are ample in their serving size. If you're dining as part of a couple you can comfortably share a couple of them.
Desserts are mostly in the $12 to $16 range. The sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce that I had via room service on the first night was delicious, the Dutch apple crumble with rhubarb compote and ice cream at the restaurant... less so. (It wasn't BAD, but it wasn't great. And it was missing the ice cream, coming instead with a large scoop of cream. C'mon guys, I have ice cream maybe four times per year; disappointing!)
The menu shows a surprisingly large number of vegetarian offerings, which will please at least one of my readers. (Always assuming that I HAVE more than one.)
There were a couple of minor issues with checkout. Around 9ish there were 5 guests / families queued up to leave but only one receptionist who was doing as much as she could as fast as she could; but 5 against 1 is never going to be an even match. Again I'd put that down to holiday weekend staff shortages rather than anything chronic. There was only 1 guest ahead of me when I checked out about half an hour later; one came up behind me, which is why I didn't go through each and every item on the bill and missed the breakfast overcharge. (I knew the ballpark amount but not the exact dollar figure... which I WOULD have done had a copy of the bill been left under the door that morning. I didn't want to hold up the person behind me as I went hunting for rogue numbers on the bill.)
Overall then: the bathroom and spa bath were (on the whole) good (though it might be advisable to supply a spare box of tissues as the built-in holder holds only the thinnest of boxes); most of the furniture needs replacing (which they're doing); the beds were (I suspect) once top-of-the-line but even the good'uns get old and tired and that seems to have happened here; they may need to rethink the whole Internet access method (especially as you have to drag a long cable right across to the opposite side of the room to get it to the work table); it would be nice if the gym was open more regular hours; it would be nicer if more hotels would build pools like the Canberra Novotel's (see my review of that hotel for details) but I've all but given up that dream; someone needs to stick their nose into recently cleaned rooms (literally) before putting guests into them; and if it says ice cream on the menu then I want my ice cream, dangit!
This is as close as I've come to dropping a hotel below an overall 4 rating; the service and the facilities drag this one over the line (just!) despite the best efforts of the un-refurbished rooms. But I wouldn't rule out another stay here; I'll be most interested to see how it looks when fully refurbished, and some of the higher end suites may well be worth a try at some point.
Clean, Well located, starting to show its age
The hotel is very well located near Manuka shops. We had an embassey suite for our family of four. The suite was two rooms, one with a King bed and the other with two fold out double sofa beds for our two children. The room was large, clean and well appointed. The beds, bed coverings and linen appeared new and were modern and very comfortable. Plenty of comfortable pillows. The remaining decor was clean and functional but starting to show its age through wear. The bathroom was huge as was the shower and vanity.
The rooms got stuffy and hot during the night and we could not lower tthe room temperature. The room aircon was a bit difficult to navigate in the middle of the night.
The staff were friendly and accomadating to our requests.
Breakfast was disappointing. My wife and son ate at the hotel buffet, the hot food was cold and the cold food very cold.
The hotel car park was full at night and the car parking spaces very tight, very hard to park our 4WD. That said we got a space in the evenning after we were fortunate that someone was leaving as we arrived.
Overall a pleasant hotel. Would stay again.
Not that bad at all
I was a bit concerned about staying at the Rydges Capital Hill due to the previous reviews.I previously stayed at this hotel over 12 months ago and at that time it was in need of upgrading.
Anyway I was only staying for one night so I thought I would revisit and see if there was any improvements.
I booked with the hotels website. They have some great packages. I had trouble with my internet connection and by mistake booked 3 rooms instead of 1. The reservations area from the hotel contacted me to confirm the number of rooms I was requiring. She was very helpful and professional. I requested a renovated room and she confirmed that was the type of room I would be provided.
I booked the superior queen but at check in was allocated an Embassy Suite for no additional charge. This room type is great if you are travelling with children. They have a separate room with the own cable TV. The main bedroom had the new king dream bed. Very comfortable. As previous reviews have noted some of the furniture is damaged, it is mainly the bedside tables. The problem is that the tables are attached to the bedhead and that is attached to the wall and intergrated into the electricals so I guess it must be cost ineffective to replace that. Having said that the remainer of the furniture in the rooms is new.
All in all we were very happy and would stay in that room type next time. I checked on the website and its not really too much more for the Embassy suite instead of the superior room.
No Heating in Winter !
I chose this hotel because of location to business meetings.
Check in (mid afternoon) was very slow due to only one staff member on the front desk. This person was not looking too happy with her job and struggled to muster a greeting.
Canberra is cold in winter (down to -4C overnight) and you would expect the public spaces to be heated ... not so in this hotel.
In the early evening I met some business colleagues in the bar but it was so cold ( I suspect no more than 10C) that we abandoned the idea and looked for a restaurant in the hotel which we hoped would be warmer.
The Fig Tree ? restaurant was a disaster. It took an eternity to order wine. The waiter served the mains without first clearing our soup plates. The steaks were only warm ...so had been sitting in the kitchen fro some time and the Maitre D shrugged off the suggestion that the restaurant temperature needed attending to.
I spend over 90 days a year in hotels in all climates. I have stayed in some bad hotels before but never anything as ridiculously cold as this in it's public spaces. And the irony was that as I checked out the next day (slow process again) the front office person tripped over a heater concealed behind the front desk. So at least the staff were getting some heat even if the customers were not.
Australian hotels are generally very good but Rydges Hotels seem to have lost the plot. Avoid them !
0 stars hotel
My husband and myself stayed 1 night at hotel, and we have found the room conditions totaly unacceptable. There was no staff members to help us with the luggage and to show where to go. We arrived and entered cold room, no heating turned on. There was rubbish on balcony (cigarrete's buts). There was no proper doona quilt cover. There was 2 sheets and doona in between. Radio that has no switch on button. And finally, spa bath had yellow line on it, where dirt was collecting for months. Very old damaged furniture, and disgusting carpets, that we could not take the shoes off. If there was a child with us, there was no way to let the kid play or walk on it. Kept the Crock shoes on for shower.
Unfortunattely, we were very tired to drive back to Melbourne,as it was very late at night, otherwise we would live the hotel and never suggest anyone to go there. The only thing that was good was mattress, but the base of the bed was older than me.
We wanted to see the manager in the morning, but she was "Busy" and said to reception girl to give us 20% off, I wanted to talk to her and show her the room conditions, but she was " Very Busy", so she got rid of us. We have paid $223.00 for disaster.
I personally think this is rip off, and that room doesn't worth even $40 a night.
This hotel has name RYDGES, big name, but this is a shame
for other hotels, it is ruining the reputation.
I am sorry that we spent time and money on that hotel, and ruined our day. This was meant to be nice and relaxing nignt for us, but turned into nightmare, and will be bad memory.
The worst place I have EVER stayed.
Was looking forward to staying at Rydges as we had stayed there before with no issues.
We arrived at 2.15pm and was told the room wasn't ready. We were given a 2 drink vouchers and told it wouldn't be long. We went back at 3.15pm and was told it still wasn't ready. They put us into a different room (same style). We got to the room and was welcomed with a previous guests name on the tv which wasn't a problem as we could see that his account (yep, could see all transactions) was paid. We had booked a King Size Spa Suite and had planned to watch movies and just relax. Tried to buy a movie at 3.30pm and wasn't able to buy one. A member of staff came to the room and informed us that he would come back within 20 minutes. At 5pm we left and the member of staff hadn't returned. We arrived back at the hotel at 8pm and even though we had two passes to get back into the carpark, neither worked. It took 5 minutes of buzzing for them to let us in. Asked if the movies had been fixed and were told that they had. Put child in bath and he was looking forward to the spa. Didn't work! Told reception staff that it didn't work and they asked for the room number and said that the week before they had problems in that room and that the spa obviously still hadn't been fixed. At 11pm we had a phone call from an offshore company about an internet problem that the previous guest had (organised through Rydges).
In the morning the name showing was ours but we were still unable to book movies.
Used the drink vouchers (that we had been given) in the morning to buy coffee and to top off our night, the drinks were cold!
I filled in the impressions form and a survey that was emailed and still no contact has been made. From looking at my bank account (did express checkout), it looks like they took $10 off the fee charged.
I won't be returning to this hotel.
I was also concerned about staying at the Rydges Capital Hill due to the previous reviews, which all now seem fairly accurate, i.e. mixed. So heres my feedback:
• The reception area and lounge area don’t seem to be centrally heated, although in some of these areas they do supply a few outdoor umbrella type heaters
• On arrival to the room, our children each received a colouring book and pencils. Nice touch.
• The next day when arriving back to our room, room service had left the girls teddy bears tucked into the girls bed. Nice touch
• As indicated by others, no decent cable TV channels.
• As indicated by others, the room (spa room) was tidy, clean but a bit old and tired.
• The indoor heated pool was only just heated and the spa was also faulty.
• Breakfast was great, even if we had to huddle underneath the outdoor umbrella heater… while inside!
• Great location for the Questacon and the Manuka Cafe strip