The idea struck Jerome Borazio as he was taking in the city skyline outside 1000 £ Bend, his cafe, bar and arts space near Elizabeth Street.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be better if people could see the city in a different light than just from a normal hotel room?’” says the man who brought us St Jerome’s bar (since closed), Laneway Festival, Ponyfish Island, The Workers Club and Sister Bella, among other things.
His outlandish solution? A luxury campground on the top of Melbourne Central, complete with plush AstroTurf, a potted forest, its own bar, and stunning views. For five years now Borazio has worked with GPT Group, which owns the centre, to unlock disused spaces. But it clearly struck gold when it approached him to do something with the rooftop.
“The views are absolutely fantastic, and it’s calm up there because there’s a lot of wind protection,” Borazio says. “Usually if you're in one of these buildings you're looking out the windows and looking down. This one, you look up, and the city’s around you."
The rooftop is three storeys up, next to Melbourne Central’s big glass cone. Building works started on Monday, in preparation for the May 20 opening date. By then, 25 standard “rooms” (4m Homecamp Simpson bell tents) and “five suites” (5m Simpsons) will sit on the expanse, which Borazio reckons is about the size of a suburban footy field.
But these are no ordinary tents. Borazio has entrusted the interior fit-outs to his long-time friend, Deon St. Mor, the founder of MOR Cosmetics and a former industrial designer. A stay in one will start at about $300 a night, and include breakfast from chef Jeremy Raven, 24-hour concierge services, morning tai chi and meditation classes, and access to chauffeured cars.
Borazio says more than 1000 people, mainly Victorians, have already used the website to register their interest. People can start booking from Tuesday. He’s unsure of how long the pop-up will stick around, but thinks six months is a good guess.
St Jerome’s – The Hotel will open on May 20, 2015.
St Jerome’s – The Hotel
Rooftop, corner Swanston and Latrobe Streets, Melbourne