TFE Hotels’ Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport has won the prestigious Emil Sodersten Award for Best Interior Architecture at the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Architecture Awards.

The judges noted the hotel’s lobby is “world-class in size and is similar in proportions to the void at (Frank Lloyd Wright’s) Guggenheim Museum in New York or the Pantheon in Rome. But this is not a museum, or a religious edifice, but rather a commercial building, where net lettable area and gross floor area are usually the primary drivers. To be able to build a void, or really to not build at all, in this manner in any modern building is exemplary. The fact that this is an airport hotel makes it even more admirable and award-worthy.”

Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport, designed by Bates Smart, was developed by Canberra Airport in conjunction with TFE Hotels and opened its doors in November 2015.

TFE Hotels CEO, Rachel Argaman, said it had since become known as the cool and contemporary design hotel turning airport stays on their heads.

“Bates Smart has an award-winning track record in design and this latest award has confirmed to the public what we and our guests knew all along – that this is yet another showpiece hotel design,” she said.

“It’s a wonderful testament to their creativity, their professionalism and their design prowess that the cutting-edge design of one of our next generation Vibe Hotels is recognised by Australia’s top industry body.”


Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport had previously bagged three design awards at the Master Builder Association annual awards in Canberra – for best building project, best project between $20 million and $50 million and best interior finishes.

The soaring seven-storey interior atrium, around which the whole hotel is built, provides a dramatic visual while naturally inviting guests to better connect with each other and with their Vibe Hosts. At its heart, Helix Bar and Dining is a vast open dining area and cocktail bar with a circular snug bar encircling a fire pit and a long shared dining table. This modern bistro offers a delectable menu based on local Australian produce, regional wines, creative cocktails and local craft beers. Here, just metres from the gate, travellers can relax with a fine meal, knowing they will make their flights on time.

In keeping with the hotel’s flight theme are its spacious Lower and Upper Deck rooms, First Class rooms and one and two bedroom apartments. Each of the 191 sound-proof rooms have stunning sunrise and sunset views all the way to Old Parliament House – guests can watch flights taking off as they work out in Vibe Fit gym.


The hotel is the first to open as part of Australian-based TFE Hotels’ re-envisioning of its Vibe Hotels brands. Each new or refurbished Vibe Hotel will feature rooms with modern natural finishes that reflect the local area, spaces that come alive as you enter, technology that fosters guest interaction via communal work areas and social hubs, locally sourced menus, Vibe Hosts sharing insider knowledge and Vibe Fit healthy menus and in-room yoga channels.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management