The Vibe Savoy Hotel Melbourne is currently undergoing a major refurbishment ahead of a rebrand; it’ll officially become The Savoy Hotel on Little Collins in October this year.

Architectural firm Woods Bagot – which is behind the interiors of Sydney’s The Ivy precinct and Wynyard Walk, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and a plethora of transformations overseas (including Qantas Business and Premium airport lounges in the US and UK) – is fitting out the new-look hotel.

The refurb takes inspiration from the Art Deco period of the 1920s and ’30s, retaining the bones of the building, but overhauling the interiors.

Woods Bagot principal Bronwyn McColl told Broadsheet the design team looked to “accentuate the natural beauty of the building” and prioritised being “respectful but contemporary” in the changes it made.

Many of the building’s existing features remain, including the stunning marble and timber staircase that greets guests just beyond reception, the grand ballroom on the first floor, and the jaw-dropping 10-storey atrium, which stretches the entire height of the hotel and floods the space with natural light.

Gone is the lobby’s tired red and green colour scheme; in its place are bronze fixtures and finishes, and new soft furnishings.

To minimise the impact on guests, the hotel remains open during the overhaul, meaning each level of guest rooms is being renovated individually. When it’s complete, there’ll be a new, pared-back palette of dove grey, white, blue and charcoal throughout, allowing the existing architecture to shine, and custom-designed carpeting featuring period-specific motifs. Bathrooms will have white subway tiling, polished chrome tapware and chequerboard flooring.

One of the challenges in dealing with such a historical building was “not fighting what we had, embracing the forms, [and] embracing the layout,” McColl says. “Too many people try to make their own mark on something rather than respecting what’s already there.”

The hotel first opened as Alexander’s Family Hotel in 1866. In 1928, operating as Hotel Alexander, it was the first in the country to offer ensuite bathrooms and in-room air conditioning. In the 1950s, then known as the Savoy-Plaza, the hotel hosted international icons including Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. It has operated as the Vibe Savoy Hotel Melbourne since 2004.

Rooms will start from $200 a night, a small increase from the previous price of $189. The hotel’s highest-end room, the Alexander Suite will be open to guests later this year, topping out at $700 a night.