Melbourne’s Hotels: Place-making and Sorytelling

The place of hotels in the Melbourne landscape is radically changing, yet it remains safe to say that as a destination, it falls in line behind the trusty and ever-expanding list of Melbourne cafés and restaurants. To find a place to meet a friend or colleague, hotels are still playing second fiddle to the remainder of the food and beverage offers in Melbourne.

Globally we see hotel lobbies utilised to full capacity, for social or business engagements – they are accepted as a universal place to dwell. Hotels have lost the perception of being a place where you pay a premium for a glass of wine or coffee, instead they’ve gained momentum as the preferred destination for work and play.

The blurred line between retail and hospitality is forging this change. The various modes in which we can interact; work, eat, drink, sleep, shop etc. only ever happens in hotels. Leading this trend is not the high-end hoteliers, it’s the unassuming parties; ‘poshtels’ (posh hostels) and offers such as Ace, Hotel Indigo, 25 Hours and Citizen M. They have got the combination down-pat with thriving trade.

In Melbourne, we have the largest number of cafés and restaurants per capita in the world. This, combined with our formidable attachment to supporting the little guy has consigned hotels to an undefined category, and forcing us to ask; how do you create spaces people want to stay?

In Melbourne these spaces are accessible, while inconspicuous on our streets. We love to happen upon a space, to feel as though we’ve found something. So making a hotel (branded or boutique), adapt to this logic needs to shift in approach. Hotels must build their conceptual and physical framework that not only taps into, but evolves Melbourne’s sense of place. More than anything, they need to be useful and meaningful to help us live with a little more ease.

Public areas are dynamically changing, even the big banks are providing public lounges with Wi-Fi and café facilities, whereby all are welcome. The scope of amenity and flexible offers are readily available at every turn. A sense of a local living room is everywhere. Grand statements are dead. We are seeking something that feels like a (somewhat idealised) extension of our lifestyles. It is less aspirational, more about alignment with locality. It is about creating an offer where you can kill more than two birds with one stone.

With this thinking in mind, the hotel has great opportunity to enhance Melbourne’s food and beverage field by adapting the trialled and tested successes of Asia and Europe to offer an experience that uniquely appeals to the discerning Melburnian.

Rosie Morley, Associate.