Culture

St Jerome’s Hotel Is Still Melbourne’s Best Hideaway In Plain Sight

One year on, the rooftop glamping hotel is still going strong.

It was in a laneway ­– the cardiovascular system for Melbourne’s cafes and bars – that St Jerome, aka Jerome Borazio, established the beginnings of his empire.

Now, not too far away from the site of the original, well-loved dive bar, St Jerome’s Hotel thrives one year on into what was originally set to be a six-month experiment.

4m Tent Exterior

The sensibility of being tucked away is very much present in St Jerome’s Hotel, which only compounds the prestige of walking onto the sprawling astroturf, peppered with canvas tents. It feels like a transportation to a surreal abstract plane, like the final scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey with a ping pong table in place of the monolith. There’s seclusion from the world underneath, offering serenity you wouldn’t deem possible in the CBD. The tents themselves offer seclusion within the grounds, for the most part feeling neighbour-less, able to retreat within the retreat.

Site Photo 3

Typically Melbourne: it’s raining on our arrival, and doesn’t let up for the night. Lucky for me, falling asleep and waking up to the sound of raindrops is pretty much my favourite thing ever. The hotel’s communal area, named The General Store (euphemistic for cocktail bar, I assume) provides a respite from the drizzle. Addressing those in attendance, Jerome claims this is the first time it has rained since last year’s initial media launch. He then makes more believable stats. The amount of guests in the first year of operation has clocked five figures. There have been dozens of proposals “with around a 60 percent success rate. Just kidding, it’s 100 per cent”.

The initial plan was for a season-long experiment, since extended through to the end of 2017 at least, allowing for more permanent fixtures – with whispers of a hot tub. The experiment has paid off big time, now looking to expand much like Laneway Festival has, with sights set on national, and eventual international, expansion.

The concept behind St Jerome’s Hotel is deceptively simple. The glamorous and camping aspects of glamping are balanced to perfection, our tent honestly being one of the most comfortable ‘hotel rooms’ in which I’ve stayed. Outside was chilly, inside the tent was like a big warm hug thanks to the in-built heater.

Site Photo 4

Next door, through the portal back to civilisation, Strike Bowling is there, with a complimentary lane for hotel guests. How many hotels can boast a bowling alley? Even when venturing into the public space, the hotel’s intimacy resonates. The sense of personal is the greatest drawcard, everything feels just for you. Even if the table tennis set-up is rained out, the General Store is great for a good old fashioned chingwag over cocktails and complimentary Messina gelato.

City View

The uniqueness of St Jerome’s Hotel offers fresh perspective. Even for life-long Melburnians, the elevation can put the city into a new light. For visitors, it allows an experience like no other. The addition of a hot tub would just be a cherry on top.

The writer stayed as a guest of the hotel. All images provided.