By Diana Vidovic

History in the making: top historical hotels

Thursday, 30 June 2016 81

Ever wanted to sleep in a hotel with ghosts hovering in the corridors? Stay in accommodation that was once a factory, a quarantine check-point or fit for a former queen? Lie within walls that pre-date your great-great-great Grandmother? Well here’s your chance. We’ve compiled a list of the most treasured hotels in Australia.

Henry Jones Art Hotel

Hobart

Located on Hobart’s waterfront, this warehouse turned art-deco hotel will intrigue guests with its blend of historical architecture and modern fittings. The building was established in 1804 and was originally home to the IXL Jam Factory business. But after it was abandoned in the late 1990s, architects Morris-Nunn & Associates the property into Australia’s first “art hotel” concept.

The artworks are regularly replaced to showcase new pieces, meaning the hotel functions as a constant gallery for guests. There is no doubt that the hotel has a unique “mismatched-but-matching” vibe – local paintings and designs are contrasted with 19th century sandstone walls and wooden ceilings throughout.

Henry Jones Interior

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To learn more about the history of this phenomenal site, guests can partake in an Art & History Tour run by the hotel. In particular, if you are wondering who Henry Jones is, and how he came to be the successful businessman behind the IXL Company, this tour is a must. For more information on this super cool place, check out our feature on Tasmania’s top hotels.

Henry Jones exteriorHenry-Jones-Art-Hotel-room

Q Station

Manly

Short for “Quarantine Station”, this hotel which is situated in Sydney Harbour National Park once saw thousands of immigrants pass through it from 1833 to 1984 to be quarantined. Fortunately, the contagious diseases have been rid of and replaced by uniquely Australian accommodation with rare harbour views.

The hotel has managed to capture its past by restoring its 200 year-old rooms to retain their early 19th century touch – panelled walls, demountable-style exterior and long, horizontal balconies. At the same time, the hotel offers the usual contemporary facilities of any city-based accommodation. In fact, the Q Station is rather close to the CBD (by car and by ferry), but its national park location makes it seem remote.

Heritage Queen Suite - Bedroom edit

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Be warned however, as ghosts remain at this historical site – a whole 572 of them if you count every person that passed away within the Station but not onto the afterlife. Guests can venture around the site with lanterns at night on the Ghost & Paranormal Tours and brave their way through gas inhalation chambers, acid showers, a cemetery, a morgue and a laboratory. If you’re not into being spooked, the hotel also offers history tours, kayaking, and a top-rated restaurant and bar, The Boilerhouse. Alternatively, it is only a 5 minute drive from a very different, fright-less scene: Manly Beach.

Q Station dining roomQ Station aerial view edit

The Windsor

Melbourne

Nothing quite encapsulates 19th Century grandeur like The Windsor its impressive exterior, top-hatted doormen, chaise lounges and taffeta curtains make the hotel fit for a royal. In fact, The Windsor’s opening in 1883 pre-dates some of the more well-known grand hotels of the Victorian era, including The Savoy in London (1889), The Plaza in New York (1894) and the Hotel Ritz in Paris (1898). The hotel prides itself on having accommodated some of Australia’s most notable names like former Prime Ministers Sir Robert Menzies, Malcom Fraser and Gough Whitlam. It also earnt the honorary title “The Windsor” after a visit in 1923 from the Prince of Wales.

Windsor bedroom 2

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Unfortunately, the saying “all good things come to an end” reigns true for The Windsor as the hotel will likely close in two years’ time after an extension for a development proposal was recently rejected. Luckily though, the building is heritage listed – but if you want a noble accommodation experience in Melbourne’s CBD, you should check into The Windsor soon.

Windsor entranceWindsor exterior

Mayfair Hotel

Adelaide

The Colonial Mutual Life Building (CML) – a heritage listed building in Adelaide’s downtown – has been recently transformed into a five-star boutique hotel known as The Mayfair Hotel. The building was, and still is, seen as an Australian icon erected after the worst years of the depression in the mid 1930s. Thankfully, it was not demolished like the CML Buildings in Sydney and Perth.HennessyBarLoungeLR

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Like the trendy blue corner of a monopoly board, Mayfair Hotel is classy but modern at the same time. A glass cube extension fittingly contrasts the benedict stone and neo-Romanesque façade of the original building. Gargoyles can be seen near the top of the building, as well as a rooftop terrace that offers wonderful views. If guests follow the building’s original ribbon staircase downstairs, they will be led to the hotel’s basement bar and Mayflower Restaurant.

For some panoramic aerial views head to HENNESSY rooftop bar and initiate your evening with a cocktail in hand. The bar is named after the building’s original architect, Jack Hennessy, and it boasts an impressive Fiorintino chandelier of 500 crystals – dazzling! The bar is open daily to both patrons and guests alike.

Mayfair hotel lobbyMayfair bedroom

The Westin

Sydney

Within Sydney’s historic General Post Office (GPO) at Martin Place is The Westin. It’s one of the city’s most renowned hotels thanks to its name and the historic building it occupies. The current structure opened in 1874 to replace an earlier building of similar purpose.

Its design encouraged the remodeling of many buildings in the same space with a similar style and historical flair, like the ‘money box’ building at 48 Martin Place (the former CBA Building). Interestingly, the clock tower had to be rebuilt in 1964 after it was demolished in 1942 in fear of an air attack on Sydney during the Second World War.

The Westin dining room

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Inside, The Westin echoes the building’s charm with a magnificent entrance lounge that features glorious white pillars and a sweeping glass ceiling. The red-carpeted double staircase that leads up to the guest rooms will certainly make you feel like a million dollars .

For a piece of history, guests can opt to stay in the heritage rooms, which are situated inside the actual GPO building and offer a pleasant stay in classy surroundings. The Heritage Long Suite treats guests to original features including grand six-metre high ceilings and beautiful arched windows.

The Westin exteriorWestin common room

Do you know of any hotels with a cool history? Share here!

Diana Vidovic
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Once a comfortable Sydneysider studying way too hard, Diana's life took a turn when she moved abroad - and so did her wallet. Her priorities now lie with seeing the world, catching up with distant but not-forgotten friends, and comparing cultural intricacies. She's addicted to her BBC app and enjoys watching live music. You can often find her jogging or picnicking in her local park, otherwise she's off exploring cities and finding new restaurants to try.