Built in 1853, in a newfangled and burgeoning Fitzroy, the Labour in Vain is thought to be named after the bible verse, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain’. Today, the hotel is endearingly unaffected by its Brunswick Street location and still a bastion of the Fitzroy of old – a little bit gritty, a little bit dingy, but with its heart well and truly in the right place.
Tired furniture, sticky carpet and the Lord aside, Labour in Vain has got its priorities sorted, offering simple bar snacks, a solid drink list – including beauties like Mountain Goat Hightail and Bulmers on tap – and an excellent live music schedule. Visit Tuesday and Thursday for an unplugged acoustic fix, Saturday for a bit of a country bent, and Sunday for some rock ‘n’ roll.
On a weekday afternoon, you’ll find a mixed-crowd of tattoos and dreadlocks, and generally a more laidback affair enjoying the wall-to-ceiling windows in the light-filled front room and the outdoor deck upstairs. The place makes a fairly dramatic transformation for weekend evenings when it morphs into a loud, heaving mass of the Fitzroy flock.