Unless you’re heading there on business, chances are the riverina city of Albury isn’t too far up the bucketlist when it comes to those essential Aussie road trip destinations. Although, the major regional city, located on the banks of the Murray River, is a convenient and completely worthwhile stop-off on the way to (or from) Victoria, seeing as it borders with the state and has a small but charming scene populated by shops, cafes, bars, two fantastic museums (the award-winning Library Museum and the Murray Art Museum Albury), a beautiful sculpture walk, and proximity to the Snowy Mountains. There’s also a healthy choice of accommodation across the city, thanks to its constant influx of business travellers, boosted recently with the addition of Mantra Albury Hotel.
Mantra Group’s large regional presence – a big selling point for AccorHotels, who purchased the group earlier this year – is nicely furthered with this $40 million dollar property, which took only 18 months to build and stands just behind the city’s central Dean Street. 146 one and two bedrooms suites (six room categories in total), a tapas restaurant, conference spaces, a gym and even a “sky lounge” make up the eight-storey building which is all light, airy and incredibly casual.
The two small reception desks standing opposite La Tierra Restaurant is what you’d first spot walking in from Smollett Street. The choice to go with a Mediterranean inspired tapas restaurant is interesting given the locale, but it makes complete sense to an outsider after one brisk walk down lively Dean Street. I personally hadn’t been to Albury in over a decade, but was pleasantly surprised with just how diverse and trendy local tastes have become.
La Tierra, Spanish for “Earth”, is a thoughtful showcase for regional produce, mainly sourced from the Mitta and Kiewa Valley region. They fire up the Spanish charcoal oven for steaks during dinner, do up an excellent Hamburguesa with 21 day dry aged beef, Milawa cheese, mustard and smoked tomato sauce for lunch, and impress when it comes to the hotel’s a la carte breakfast, best experienced via the excellent Baked Spanish eggs with house fried beans, Portobello mushroom, wood grilled chorizo, safrito sauce and crispy sour dough. The kitchen also take care of the all-day in-room dining service, so ordering up a generous Charcuterie platter to your room is a must.
The guest rooms themselves feature very comfortable apartment-style living (save for no full kitchenette – only a microwave and toaster). My one bedroom suite had entry via the spacious lounge room, which featured a small working desk overlooking a sofa bed and sizable wall-fixed 43″ LCD. A mini bar and the room’s generous closet are saved for the narrow hallway, shooting off into the bedroom which gets plenty of light from floor-to-ceiling windows. Though the foreground isn’t much to look at – taken up by a bland rooftop parking lot – the vista is vast thanks to no tall buildings, stretching out to Victorian Alps and pulling in a striking morning view.
The tiled en suite bathroom is surprisingly almost as big as the bedroom, with it’s half-covered rain shower, large tub, basin and toilet. There’s even an additional toilet – odd for only a one-bedder – in a separate space, just in case anyone sharing the room is extra impatient.
Elsewhere, the gym is well-appointed which should keep long-term guests happy, and the Sky Lounge is an interesting and comfortable spot for guests who have access. Light-bringing sky windows are most valuable here, atoning for the fact that the lounge is oddly in the centre of the hotel and feels rather enclosed thanks to no actual view. The amenities are few but should be well received by guests fixing to stay longer than just a few nights.
With an excellent casual restaurant and large comfortable guest rooms the biggest selling points, it’s not hard to recommend Mantra Albury for those popping by the town. Just make sure you actually make the most of the location: scan Dean Street, maybe jog up to Monument Hill, visit at least one of either MAMA or the Library Museum, definitely make your way around the sculpture walk, and try fit in a visit to the iconic Murray River.
The average nightly rate at Mantra Albury Hotel starts from around AUD $135.
THREE AND A HALF STARS OUT OF FIVE
Address: 524 Smollett St, Albury NSW 2640
Contact: 13 15 17
The writer stayed as a guest of Mantra Albury Hotel
Feature image supplied.