In a world of Airbnb, it’s surprising to hear how many new hotels open every week across the world. Boutique operators and the large, traditional chains have cottoned on to what the 21st-century traveller wants – from free Wi-Fi to local, communal spaces to unwind. Style, comfort and a unique escape are all part of the experience.
These are three of the hippest urban destinations in Australia breaking the mould.
Paramount House Hotel Sydney – where everything old is new again
Surry Hills was once the hub of Australia’s booming cinema industry of the 30’s and 40’s. A little less glamorous until the late 90’s it was best described as the seedy end of town. Gentrification has brought cafes, bars, restaurants and with it the ‘it’ crowd. Co-working spaces, digital agencies and more now call Surry Hills home.
Built in 1940 Paramount Pictures Studios housed the offices and film storage and distribution services of Hollywood’s Aussie outpost. Designed by Henry Pynor of Herbert, Wilson & Pynor, he had worked with Walter Burley Griffin on Australia’s most architecturally significant ‘picture palace’ – the Capitol Theatre.
Paramount House Hotel is the product of painstaking restoration and collaboration by some of Sydney and Melbourne’s leading lights in hospitality and coffee. Russell Beard, Ping Jin Ng and Mark Dundon who together run the Paramount Coffee Project which is now an extension of the hip hotel lobby.
The lobby and rooms all blend the building’s noteworthy heritage features with the new timber floors and terrazzo-tiled bathrooms. Some rooms feature deep, timber Japanese-style baths while floor to ceiling windows and beds hover on mezzanine levels above lounges in the lofts.
Each of the soon to be the most Instagrammed 29 rooms are different, with colour used sparingly like jewellery in gemstone tones – sapphire, topaz and peridot. The beds are immaculately dressed in French linen sheets. Details include Aesop amenities and mini-bars with Tom Shobbrook wines. Wide expanses of natural light allow a much-welcomed addition of both indoor and outdoor plants.
Coming soon is the roof-top Paramount Recreation Club and Kiosk and Poly – little sister to one of Sydney’s favourite eateries Ester.
United Places Botanic Gardens Melbourne – Hotel as Home
Due to open in June, with a brief to bring the best of Melbourne design and food into the privacy of your suite United Places Botanic Gardens is set to shake up the Aussie hotel business.
Over three floors, the minimalist nine one bedroom and three two-bedroom suites are the perfect expressions of self-contained. Each suite features a well-appointed kitchen, luxury amenities and a breakfast hamper each morning from Scott Pickett’s on-site restaurant Matilda. Large, sunken bathtubs take in the city skyline in the two-bedroom suites.
Due to open in June, United Places Botanic Gardens personalised butler service gives guests the other perks of the 5-star experience – curating each individual experience.
Just four kilometres from the Melbourne CBD, the location seems a million miles from the hustle and bustle. Located within walking distance of the NGV, ACMI and the city’s arts precinct, it is the streets of South Yarra and the Royal Botanic Gardens across the road that give the property an extra layer of hominess.
Ovolo Inchcolm – Design that is rich without being fussy
On the edge of the CBD, the Inchcolm has had a make-over. This is much more than a refresh of the soft furnishings – the Ovolo Inchcolm has embraced its heritage and emerged as a design hotel.
If you’re familiar with Sydney’s QT Hotel you’ll see a similar approach. Ovolo Inchcolm’s Cabinet of Curiosities fronts the bar and is a stylist curated mix of the weird and the wonderful. According to the press release, a collection of “books, objects and artefacts paying homage to the building’s history”.
Much of the public area’s subdued (some would say dark) original timber panelling has been made over with a bright (read cheerful) colour scheme to make the spaces more inviting. Teal, azure, florals and decidedly deco touches have invigorated the salon, restaurant, ‘lobby’ and bar. This seductively artistic elegance is an appropriate entrée to the rooms and suites. (We reviewed the previous incarnation of this heritage building here).
What brings together these three very different properties? They have what guests want. Each experience is an adult alternative providing calm in contrast to the hubbub of the city. Without the pomposity of the traditional 5-star hotel but with all the frills (or should that be thrills) these three properties are game changers.