We Spent A Night At Melbourne’s First Rooftop Glamping Hotel
We've got the answers to all your questions.
The sound of a chopper overhead was what roused me. Bleary-eyed and dry-mouthed from the fun of the previous evening, I blinked open my right eye, then my left and fumbled for my phone. 8am. OK. The helicopter sounded strangely close. It probably was, because my bed was basically in the sky, enveloped by a dome tent beside a patch of Astroturf on top of a building in Melbourne’s CBD.
I’m here for the opening of St Jerome’s – The Hotel, a luxury camping experience on the rooftop of Melbourne Central. It’s a compelling idea, naturally born in the city where the stereotype is “quirk”, by a figure who’s a stalwart of the creative scene. Jerome Borazio is the mastermind behind the hotel, plus many other Melbourne institutions like 1000 £ BEND, Sister Bella, Ponyfish Island and most recently Melbourne’s only Vegas-style 24 hour wedding chapel, The Church of Bang Bang Boogaloo. And where would Melbourne’s beloved ~laneway culture~ be without St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which started in his first bar, the now defunct St Jerome’s, and went on to become the international touring behemoth it is today?
His latest venture continues a long line of Borazio realising his often utopian visions. We went along to answer all of your questions.
So how do I get there?
Head to the third level of Melbourne Central and the concierge and lobby can be found next the elevators near Strike Bowling.
Is it noisy?
Look, you’re in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD sleeping on a rooftop – you’re not going to have the tranquility of camping in the bush. However, the city gets surprisingly still at night and we dozed off without any issues. Ear plugs were also provided.
How do you stay warm?
The five metre Homecamp luxury dome tent is equipped with a heater plus electric blankets and layer upon layer of doonas and quilts for the bed, so warmth is not an issue. In fact, we only needed the heater on before we entered the tent, switching it off to sleep and letting the doonas keep us toasty throughout the night. We didn’t turn our electric blanket on at all. The common indoor area of the general store and the en suites are also heated.
So, where do you go to the bathroom?
The rooftop has been equipped with plenty of communal en suite trailers – similar to the fancy bathrooms you’d expect to find in a VIP section of a music festival. Each bathroom mini-caravan has a toilet, a shower, a sink and a heater. There’s a skylight for natural light and fancy shower products from Swisse and Toni & Guy (who are also providing discounted blow waves downstairs for the ladies). Hair dryers and straighteners are also available to keep you looking five-star.
What do you sleep on?
A bed. Actually – a soft, cushy, comfy cloud bed, fitted out in vibrant bedding from Linen House.
What about a TV? Or entertainment?
No wall-mounted TV console, guys (it’s camping after all) but each tent will have its own tablet for movies (pre-downloaded and streaming) and news apps. Plus, it’s actually pretty convenient that the hotel is located on the top of a shopping centre. There’s a Hoyts cinema just a stones throw away and each room is decorated with a bowling pin which you can trade in for a free game at Strike next door.
All guests also have access to a free session at the Fitness First gym in Melbourne Central, if you’re that way inclined, plus a number of the centre’s retailers are offering something special to the hotel guests – from Gorman to Self Centred Medi Spa, from Cupcake Central to UGG. You can check out the art gallery that’s been set up at the back of the space, and the general store doubles as a common room in the evenings where guests can sit around the huge communal table sharing travellers tales. (Mine: “I caught the tram here from Brunswick.”) With all this, you don’t even miss the telly. Promise.
What about food?
We were treated to a variety of great food – mini sliders and chips from Grill’d upon arrival, delicious late night pizzas by Slice Girls, a breakfast box delivered outside of our room when we woke up, plus fresh juice and totally decent coffee (we’re in Melbourne after all) from the general store in the morning. Cupcakes are also provided for afternoon tea. If your hunger is insatiable, there’s a food court downstairs and about a million delicious eateries in Melbourne’s CBD, which you happen to be camping directly on top of.
What about a minibar?
In the place of a fridge, each room has an esky with a deluge of delicious beverages and snacks on offer – most of them locally sourced.
Can you get room service?
No, but it’s never further than a 100 metre walk to the general store which is staffed 24/7 by friendly faces who’ll endeavour to get you anything you need upon request. And if you want something special delivered at a particular time, just let the helpers know in advance and they’ll arrange it for you.
What makes it special?
Apart from the incredible and panoramic cityscape views, it’s the little things that make a difference – super soft robes, potted plants and trees around the site, an umbrella and gum boots in case of bad weather, a dedicated tent for morning meditation, a complimentary cocktail hour between 5 and 6pm (wrap your mouth around a glass of the Fire Drum Vodka, raspberry and ginger ale), and no-bullshit, authentic partnerships with local businesses and the Melbourne Central retailers at the hotel’s doorstop. You can also do your bit by renting a bike from ‘Pushies For Purpose’, with all proceeds going to YGAP.
Did you have any problems?
None, really. A few minor kinks will be easily ironed out (like where I should hang my wet towel – the en suite or my tent?). An unfortunately timed evacuation drill, complete with blaring alarm, was taking place at Melbourne Central as we were leaving the next morning, but that sort of stuff is inevitable and rare.
Is it worth it?
If you’re visiting the city, this is probably the most “Melbourne” sleeping experience you can have. And indeed, St Jerome’s – The Hotel is an experience, not just a place to rest and shower. Throw our your expectations of a “normal” hotel and submit to the magic of the setting – gazing out of your cozy tent at the campsite, the city, and the night sky beyond isn’t something you’ll forget anytime soon.
Considering the generous inclusions from the hotel and surrounding vendors plus the little touches that add to the luxury, the cost (between $360 – $390 per night) is worth it if you’re after a unique stay in Melbourne’s CBD. Plus, your Instagram personal brand will go through the roof, and can you really put a price tag on that?
The writer stayed as a guest of the hotel. Lead image: Provided.
Where: Melbourne Central, Cnr Swanston Street & LaTrobe St, Melbourne, entry next to Strike Bowling on Level 3.
Cost: Tents range between $360 – $390 per night, and sleep two.
Perfect for: Anniversaries, special occasions, Instagram enthusiasts, visitors to Melbourne seeking something different.
For bookings and more information, click here.