Mercure Hotel Canberra

Mercure Hotel Canberra
General information
Coordinates 35°16′33″S 149°08′34″E / 35.27583°S 149.14278°E / -35.27583; 149.14278
Opening 1927
Owner Schwartz Family Company
Management Accor Hotels
Technical details
Floor count 2
Design and construction
Architect Burcham Clamp and Finch
Developer Federal Capital Commission
Other information
Number of rooms 127
Number of restaurants 1
Parking Available, complementary

Mercure Hotel Canberra, historically known as the Hotel Ainslie and Olims is a historic, four star hotel located in the inner Canberra suburb of Braddon, Australian Capital Territory. It is the closest major hotel to the Australian War Memorial and is located on Limestone Avenue. The Hotel Ainslie has been listed on the Australian Institute of Architects' Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture since 1984 due to its significance as a rare late example of English Arts and Crafts architecture[1] and was previously listed in the now defunct Register of the National Estate.[2] It is listed on the ACT Heritage Register.[3]


The building now occupied by the hotel was built between 1926-27 as one of eight hostels designed to provide accommodation for public servants in preparation of relocating the Parliament from Melbourne to the new national capital.[4] Following the adverse impact of the Great Depression in 1932, a liquor license was granted to building lessee Ernest Spendlove.[5] The building was renovated and shortly thereafter re-opened as a public hotel.

Spendlove sold the hotel in 1950, and the name was changed to the Hotel Ainslie Rex.[6] Another change of ownership saw the hotel renamed "Olims" in 1989, a name which remains in common use locally. Prior to the sale, a 87-room extension was completed in 1987 and the bar and restaurant areas were remodeled.[7] The hotel began market itself as a function centre, opening conference rooms. The beer garden was built in a distinctively more modern architectural style, disrupting the building's façade facing Limestone Avenue.[4]

In 2011, the hotel was rebranded by operator Accor Hotels as Mercure Canberra and underwent a $8 million refurbishment, hoping to draw more International guests.[8] A proposal which would have seen an extra 125 rooms added to the hotel encountered strong opposition from the National Trust of Australia due to the impact of the proposal on the building's aesthetics and heritage significance. The proposal was subsequently scaled back.[9]

Events and charitable fundraising

The Canberra Craft Beer Festival has been held annually at the hotel since 2008.[10] Mercure Canberra participates in Room for Hope, a program which allows guests to donate $1 in addition to the room rate to charitable causes.[11]


  1. "Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture" (PDF). Australian Institute of Architects. April 1990.
  2. "Register of the National Estate". Department of the Environment (Australia). Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  3. "20089. Hotel Ainslie (Entry to the ACT Heritage Register)" (PDF). ACT Heritage Council. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  4. 1 2 Australian Heritage Database. "Place Details". Department of the Environment (Australia). Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  5. The Canberra Times (19 October 1932). "Liquour licence in December 1". National Library of Australia.
  6. Gugler, Ann. "Alphabetical List of Accommodation for Single People With Emphasis on the 1930s to 1960s" (PDF). Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  7. "Mercure Canberra - Our History". Mecure Canberra. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  8. "Canberra's grand dame eyes international market under Accor brand". Hospitality Magazine. 11 October 2011.
  9. Anderson, Stephanie (14 August 2011). "Fears extension will dwarf heritage hotel". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. "Canberra Craft Beer Festival". Retrieved 1 February 2004.
  11. "Quick Updates". Royal Far West. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
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