Checking in to Little Albion: More than a decade ago, during the launch years of Essentials, we were mightily impressed by the creative fit out, friendly service and bountiful amenities that encompassed Canberra’s then new Diamant Hotel, a class offering designed by Paul Fischmann’s 8HOTELS Group. Ahead of his time, Fischmann had unwittingly championed the beginning of a luxury small-hotels movement that today sees every man, woman, chairperson and international entrepreneur chomping at the bit to get into. Case in point: Dubai media mogul Ghassan Aboud’s recent acquisition of this year’s small hero hotel development: Little Albion Guesthouse – a one-of-a-kind conversion of a former nun’s convent, also created by 8HOTELS. Perhaps an unexpected addition to Aboud’s Crystalbrook Collection of mostly modern Queensland-based developments, (including the new five-star Cairns resort hotel Riley), Crystalbrook’s Chief Executive Mark Davie explains that Little Albion ‘is a natural fit for our collection, as each of our properties have their own unique style and personality.’

Located in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, the 35-room, devastatingly gorgeous guesthouse is without doubt the most stunning transformation we’ve seen. Artistically
re-imagined by Terence Yong Architecture, together with interior designer Cressida Kennedy of Space Control and Connie Alessi of Archemy, (who also designed Diamant Sydney – now renamed Larmont Hotel), their intimate, unpretentious spaces rule the roost, dressed to the nines in swaths of 1920s grandeur, coupled with sparkling touches of not too over-the-top 70s glam. The mix sounds unfittingly questionable we know, but trust us, it works so well. Rooms feature handcrafted brass-lined custom bedheads with matching fold-away reading lamps, herringbone-parquetry floors, Dancing with the Stars shimmering metallic bathroom tiles and hanging throughout the guesthouse, an art collection inspired by the district’s personalities. Guests are encouraged to use the well-stocked honour bar and serve their own gourmet nibbles from the emerald-coloured kitchen, making this place feel ever more like one’s own.

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