When you ascend the stairs to The Albion rooftop you'll pass a small section of charred bricks, encased in glass. In late 2015, just two weeks before it was to open as a nightclub, there was a fire here. Two-thirds of the pub had to be torn down; only the heritage-listed facade - which dates to 1869 - was left standing. Now it's a an expansive venue with a rooftop bar, events space, lounge and nightclub.
The Albion's investors are ex-Collingwood football player Dane Swan; ex-Melbourne Storm players Robbie Kearns and Danny Williams; and publicans the Darcy Group. Like so many upgraded Melbourne hotels, this one features slick interiors, with dark timber, brass accents and muted green tones. The lounge bar and nightclub make the most of natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows; those areas are oufitted with opulent green, gold and black booths and plush leather seating. The rooftop is spacious and has city views.
The club's so-called "sound ceiling" and focused speakers flood the small dance floor with specially directed sound. That means if you want to chat upstairs and enjoy the views you can do so in relative peace. Or, rage until the wee hours - the venue has a 5am license.
You'll find Espresso Martinis and other cocktails on tap, and twists on old favourites. Beer is fairly down-the-line; there's unpasteurised Carlton Draught alongside others from the CUB stable such as Fat Yak and Great Northern. The wine list keeps things local with a mix of Australian regions and a few Kiwis thrown in. If you want to splash a few extra dollars, you'll also find options such as a Mitchell McNicol 2008 Clare Valley riesling at $98, or a 2013 Vietti Barolo Castiglione for $230.
Food is designed to be shared and shows a lot of Japanese and South East Asian influence.