The iconic Esplanade Hotel on the esplanade in St. Kilda, Melbourne (the Espy) was closed for three years for renovations under new owners hospitality group Sand Hill Road. The extensive restoration included three live music stages, 12 bars and two restaurants.
“The Gershwhin Room is the MCG of music for a lot of people, it’s really hallowed turf,” Mr Maskiell of Sand Hill Road group said “To not have one of the best band rooms and best music and arts hotels in Melbourne operating has been a real shame. To have new life in it, to have it up and about and up on its toes, I think it is symbolic of a really bright future in the area.”
The attention to detail through the restoration the team have brought to the beloved hotel is breathtaking.
The vision was to renovate the venue so it offered a diverse range of entertainment venues, from the old public bar to high end cocktail bars and restaurants.
Lined with 1980s Espy band posters, the public bar has retained its grungy feel and will host up-and-coming bands, keeping the Melbourne music scene alive.
A glass retractable ceiling in the main bar’s foyer shows off the hotel’s original 1878 building, which sits behind a facade built in the 1920s. Mr Maskiell said the group retained the historic parts of the hotel, restoring anything that was original, while replicating any that weren’t, keeping the same old-world feel. It is fascinating to see the beautiful decorative mouldings retained or restored from the original building. The fine detail and highly decorative designs hark to another time.
The upstairs level that was previously derelict now boasts a Cantonese restaurant and cocktail bars.
‘The Ghost of Alfred Felton” cocktail bar on the top floor, is inspired by resident Alfred Felton who bequeathed his large fortune to the National Gallery of Victoria in 1904, elevating it to a buying league of international museums it would never again emulate.
The room features a 100-year-old bar and is adorned with art and antiques scoured from around the world to restore his old rooms to their former glory.