What is the Question – December

December 10, 2023 BY

For the final What is the Question of 2023 Roland talked with David Cook-Doulton, owner of Hotel Vera.


What is your name?

David Cook-Doulton


What is your occupation?

Designer and Hotelier – Hotel Vera.


What brought you to Ballarat?

I love heritage architecture. I wanted to restore and protect heritage buildings. I love the concept of restoration with contemporary purpose.


What is your favourite spot in the city, and why?

I love the view from the balcony of The Unicorn Hotel looking towards Camp Street. Also, the view from the top of the Eureka building. It’s a gift to see this grand heritage city from a different perspective.


What is your earliest memory?

Going to my aunt’s farm to pick-up our new puppy named Tyke. I think I was five. I was wearing a plastic token from a cereal box around my neck and Tyke was placed in a box on the rear seat of our Monaro between my brother and me. We were so excited.


What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Being true to myself. Opening Hotel Vera, book ended by COVID lockdowns and economic turmoil.


What is happiness?

Being true to your potential, being brave through fear.


What would you do to make a difference in the world?

Everyone can make a difference. It’s the singular voices who make a choir.

I hope I’m making my little mark in this world. If my legacy is protecting some historic old buildings then it would be a life of purpose.


What would your friends say is your greatest quality?

I hope – that I’m a good-hearted person of action, not just words.


Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life?

Family. Like my grandmother, my mother has a beautiful heart.

My father has a wonderful sense of humour and is the most honourable of men. My brother is a combination of both, and has been my champion, always.


What is your greatest vice?

Potato gems and being far too nice.


What last caused you to cry?



What would your superpower be?

Perceptive vision. White space and silver linings. The ability to find opportunities.


What role in any film would you choose to play?

Mrs Doubtfire. Humour and camouflage, the perfect combination.


What advice would you offer your teenage self?

Be brave, you have magic inside you.


What are you reading, currently?

10 by The Local Project.


What do you hope the future might hold for you?

More contentment and balance. More exciting projects, and less stress.


What is the best decision ever you have made?

Moving from South Yarra to Ballarat. It’s the best of city creative and country community. It’s more creative and stimulating. People work together.


What do you like to cook?

I’m not a great cook! I’m vegetarian so I’m trying to master more healthy, tasty meals.


What building would you choose to be?

The Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. Simple, transparent, and honest.


What is your most treasured possession, and why?

A coloured vest given me by my grandma when I was five. I felt so special wearing it. I’ve kept it safe for all these years.


What question would you ask your pet?

“What’s the meaning of life?” I think my Airedale, Fletcher, knows the answer.


What would you change if you could edit your past?

Walk away from people who want to dim my light.


What or who inspires you?

Boyan Slat who created Ocean Clean Up project; and Ballarat’s, Colleen Filippa, Director 15 Trees. Selfless champions making the world a better place.


What is your favourite quote?

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi


What person – living or dead would invite to dinner party?

Vincent Van Gogh and Marilyn Monroe.


What technological/scientific development boggles your mind?

The advent of robotic AI. Fascinating yet scary.