Is there ever, ever any instance where shared bathrooms can be chic, asks Winsor Dobbin? A night in Tasmania’s new Montacute Boutique Bunk House should answer that… 

Rose Flynn and Antony Langdon, the livewire young owners of Hobart’s chic new accommodation offering, reckon they opened Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse because they “know that
a trip to Tasmania can add up”.

Is it a hotel? Not really. Is it a guesthouse? Not exactly. Is it a hostel? Well… not like any hostel you’ve stayed at before. It has been described as perfect for those with champagne tastes on a cider budget, and with the word ‘bunkhouse’ in its name, perhaps that’s as close as we’ll get… for now.

Set in a beautifully restored 1895 mansion in the Hobart suburb of Battery Point (though in the interests of factual integrity, allow us to point out that an extension was added in 1910), Montacute is, well, cute. From the outside it looks like the gracious old mansion it is, with delightful gardens and a walking-distance location of Salamanca Place.

Inside, renovations and tasteful decorating have resulted in what looks like a chic, boutique hotel with lovely lounges, verandahs and plenty of cosy nooks and crannies. Bedrooms are simply furnished but comfortable, featuring crisp cotton linen (tick), fluffy pillows (tick), reading lamps (tick…) and… powerpoints. Tick?

OK, so the rooms are basic. But they’re still so very cute – which doesn’t quite explain how they could be priced from just $50 per person, per night, In fact, we’re left standing in our cosy little corner, scratching our heads, until it hits us: there’s no bathroom. Right.

So Montacute is luxurious and welcoming – and brilliantly situated, don’t forget – but only if you’re willing to compromise on having your own facilities. (And we do mean all facilities – the kitchen is also shared. And although I’m happy to report that, unlike the very few hostels I’ve had the joy of experiencing, it’s blessedly clean and new, there’s plenty of fridge and freezer space in this one, and there’s even a few nice, grown-up appliances, like a sandwich maker.)

But back to the (lack of) bathrooms. The idea of brushing my teeth next to a stranger brings back vague memories of rainy school camps, which I’m not particularly interested in revisiting, but here we are, just us and the shared bathrooms, and after several hours’ travel, there’s no way I’m not having the required long, hot shower.

And it’s… fine. Better than fine, even. The bathrooms are bright, modern and – honest – impeccably clean. So much so that, by the end of my stay, I’ve almost come around to this sharing business. I’m happy enough to share the warmth of the open fire in the cosy sitting room. I’m fine to share the balcony with other couples, taking advantage of the intimate tables for two. I’m even fine to share the lovely lawn, which has outdoor tables with umbrellas, and picnic rugs for those who want to laze about in the sun. The only thing I’m not sharing is my glass of Tasmanian red, and no one seems to mind about that too much.

The website explains that they don’t want to diminish your Tassie experience ‘by staying anywhere less than luxurious’, which is just about bang on – for this price, it is luxurious. Which is a Very Good Thing, because we spend far too much on the many fantastic restaurants nearby, and though I still wouldn’t call myself a shared bathroom kind of guy, in this instance I’m quite happy to make an exception… for a night or two, anyway.

The details: Montacute Boutique Bunk House

The verdict: Lovely rooms and setting and a money-saver for those happy to share bathrooms and kitchen facilities.
The score: 15.5/20; great
We rated: Free wi-fi throughout the property is a lead many chain hotels could follow.
We hated: The fact there was no mirror in our room.
Where: In a chic, heritage suburb just a five-minute walk from Hobart’s bustling Salamanca waterfront precinct.1 Stowell Avenue, Battery Point, Hobart, Tasmania
Notes: Shared rooms with four bunks from $40 per person, per night. Private double rooms $100 a night.
Contact: 03 6212 0474; montacute.com.au

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