If you’ve ever dreamt of living at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the newly transfigured Wizard’s Suite at the Windsor Hotel is as close as you’ll get in Melbourne (magic-wise, it certainly trumps a flea market tarot reading I got recently).
To coincide with the arrival of global smash-hit play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which premiered on February 23 at the Princess Theatre, the Windsor has given its first-floor corner suite a magical makeover. Located a short stroll from the theatre, the Wizard’s Suite is a great way to put off returning to dreary, muggle-filled Melbourne after the show.
For those less familiar with the Potterverse, Cursed Child is an epilogue of sorts to J K Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books. It’s co-written by Rowling and lauded playwright Jack Thorne, and picks up where the finale left off, 19 years after Harry and the gang down the dark lord, Voldemort.
Since premiering in London in 2016, the elaborate theatre production has garnered more praise than Hermione Granger. Shown over two parts, it sucks you back into the wizarding world with dazzling pyrotechnics and convincing illusions that at times rival its cinematic equivalents. It lives up to the hype.
Gazing up at the five-star Windsor’s 19th-century facade from the Spring and Bourke street intersection below, the hotel’s castle-like grandeur has always held a certain mystique. It reminds me a bit of Harry’s wizarding school, except rather than arriving on the Hogwart’s Express, you get there on the 96 tram.
And until December 31, if you can afford to drop a few hundred Gold-Galleons – or, if you’re lucky enough to be Broadsheet’s resident wizard geek – you can ascend the hotel’s grand staircase, and walk along a fake cobblestone entryway to nerd nirvana.
The luxurious lodging is the wand work of wizard-wares store The Room of Requirement, which is why it’s also decked out with cabinets full of merchandise you can buy from the front desk.
Inside, there are unmistakable round spectacles and Hogwarts-robe-style dressing gowns to wear, and mischievous winged critters hanging from the chandelier. Snacks from the books such as Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and chocolate wands will sustain you through the 19 hours and 40 minutes of programming contained in a stack of Harry Potter DVDs. Just beware the earthworm-flavoured bean.
In the bedroom there’s an open trunk with quidditch robes, a burgundy-and-gold school tie and a stuffed owl (all of which are nailed down, I checked). And there’s a broomstick you can whiz around on (read: jump on the fancy giant bed with, while you pretend to fly.)
There are Harry Potter books to read, board games to play and the walls are lined with posters of fake Daily Prophet newspaper front pages, and prints inspired by Rowling’s universe.
In short, the suite has everything a juvenile almost 30-year-old could hope for from a night in. And as one whose last holiday stay was in a six-bed dorm in a disheveled Hobart hostel, the heritage-listed Windsor, which has hosted Muhammad Ali, Gough Whitlam and even the boy wizard himself – Daniel Radcliffe – is certainly a step up.
At one point a visiting friend gazed past the satin curtains at the commanding Victorian Parliament building outside and commented that this is what it must feel like to live the high life.
“This is what it feels like to be a wizard,” I replied, stroking a fake, but fluffy, Crookshanks the cat.
The Wizard’s Suite is priced from $699 during the week up to $899 on Fridays and Saturdays, and can be booked up until December 31, 2019.