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 one of the country’s best stocks of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture. If you really want to immerse yourself in the city’s past, book a stay at one of these historic Hobart hotels.
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 loveliest historic Hobart hotels. Woodbridge on the Derwent just oozes heritage 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.
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.
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. 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.
For those who enjoy the finer things in life, Islington is possibly Hobart’s best boutique hotel. Located in South Hobart, about 20 minute’s 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.
Hobart is not short of classic colonial 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.
The Brunswick Hotel on Liverpool Street is another option. It’s been watering the locals since it was constructed by convict hands in 1827.
Over in beautiful Battery Point, the Shipwrights Arms Hotel (‘the Shippies’ to the locals) was built in 1846 and offers quirky accommodation with free Wi-Fi.
Adam travelled as a guest of Woodbridge on the Derwent.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of historic places to stay in Hobart? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Cover image courtesy of The Henry Jones Art Hotel. Image: Adam Gibson
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.