Does this Melbourne hotel have the guest experience down to a fine art? Megan Arkinstall checks in.
Google ‘David Larwill’ and you’ll find that the late Australian artist is described as a larrikin, exuberant and loveable. But this colourful character is not immediately apparent on arrival at his namesake hotel, The Larwill Studio.
The Art Series Hotels’ sixth property is part of the new commercial precinct at North Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. That’s right: part of a clinical hospital in Parkville, an area that’s more about green spaces and community buildings than hip and happening laneways.
And there’s a Subway at the entrance… the ‘Eat Fresh’ kind. A curious choice for a hotel group that has built its brand around the vibrant work of prominent Australian artists.
Party on the inside
But inside the vibe is very different. Party tunes are booming (not unpleasantly) in the lobby, which is light-filled and spacious with high ceilings and some of Larwill’s bright, frantic and tribal-like artworks gracing the walls.
Two young girls dressed in chambray shirts and black aprons stand (no, bop) at the front desk. “Hey guys!” one hollers energetically as we ascend the stairs.
The check-in process is quick: I had received an email the previous day inviting me to check-in online with options for me to pay for a late check-out, hire a Lekker bike or smart car, and order a bottle of bubbles to my room.
The girl then enquires about our plans for the evening and promptly offers up some suggestions for dinner and drinks, marking both on a map. (For the record, the dinner suggestion was Sosta Cucina, an elegant Italian restaurant on Erroll Street about a 15-minute walk from the hotel. It was worth every step in heels; the food was incredibly good.)
Part workspace, part room
Our guest room (or workspace, as they’re known here) is a Parkview King located on level three, which we access via an elevator and public areas adorned with Larwill’s colourful paintings – it’s certainly a funky space.
The workspace is a good size, but the huge windows that overlook Royal Park makes it feel truly spacious and light. The carpet, walls, curtains and bedspread are all neutral colours allowing the two large artworks to really take centre stage.
These are complemented by bright and quirky décor such as an orange and grey throw and fluoro yellow geometric cushion on the bed, and canary-yellow industrial wire pendant lights hanging by a blue cord. It’s hard not to feel happy in a room this playful.
But it’s the small touches that really hit it out of the Royal Park. A white perforated hardboard on the wall replaces the usual hotel compendium.
Attached to it with bulldog clips is all the information you need for your stay – suggestions to ‘Stay Inspired’ by exploring the area, and an ‘Art of Wellbeing’ guide of things to do around the hotel: the GM hosts morning jogs, if you care to join him, use the yoga mat to get your ‘om’ on, or join a free gym class.
The mini bar list includes some pretty awesome snacks such as a Freckleberry, Parmesan Bites, Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and, fittingly, a canvas and paints for creating your next masterpiece.
Of course, being an Art Series Hotel, there’s a collection of art books in your room to learn some tips or you can take a tour of the hotel’s (real) art with a curator.
Toiletries are by evo and make for a humorous bathroom experience.
Use the Rain Helmet (commonly known as a shower cap), the label of which reads ‘designed as a water-repelling head prophylactic’, or the Soap Dodger (AKA body wash) that promises to erase vile smells down the drain.
The bathroom itself is spacious with plenty of bench space, the shower is over the bath but has a good, strong showerhead, and there’s a full-length mirror.
The only shortcoming is the towels – they are small and thin, which is a shame considering the hotel’s attention to detail everywhere else.
However, the pièce de résistance is the bed. Specially designed by A.H. Beard, it’s ridiculously comfortable. We wake refreshed, keen to have our first taste of Melbourne coffee, but the on-site cafe and bar Smith + Singleton is not yet open. (And Subway will just not cut it, I’m afraid.)
But it turns out that with just 10 minutes on a tram we can be in those aforementioned buzzing laneways, ready to paint the town red, perhaps just as Larwill would have done.
The Details: The Larwill Hotel
Verdict: The Larwill Studio is a great value, beautifully curated stay overlooking a lovely green park. It’s just 20 minutes from the airport by car and 10 minutes from the CBD by tram.
We rated: The room styling is fun, the bed was dreamy, the service was on the ball, and there was free wi-fi.
We’d change: The only problem in-room are the towels, which felt a little cheap. Its location means it’s a little too far for walking explorations, but if you’re happy to tram it or hire a Lekker or smart car, then it’s definitely worth considering.
Notes: We paid $188 for a Parkview King. Cafe and bar opening December.
Where: 48 Flemington Road, Melbourne; artserieshotels.com.au/larwill
All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.