With its Georgian warehouses and renowned weekend market, Hobart's Salamanca Place is one of Australia's most atmospheric public squares. Of course, it hasn't always been so gentrified, as illustrated in the history of its newest boutique hotel Moss, which opened its doors this week.
The buildings have, at various times, been brothels and nightclubs, warehouses and bars. Put your hands on the scarred sandstone walls to hear the voices of its colonial past – whalers and traders, gents and jailbirds – and more recently, the thump of late-night club-goers.
Set above the Whalers' Return bar on the ground floor, there are 41 rooms – 20 have opened in No.39 and 41, which date from the 1830s and the early 1900s, respectively. The remaining 21 rooms will open before Christmas down the street at Moss 25.
For total immersion in Tasmania's history, book room 20, advises general manager Rod Black, who moved from the equally historic Henry Jones hotel, five minutes' walk away. Set on the second floor, the corner room looks over Salamanca Place and its side-street, Montpellier Retreat, and features convict-cut sandstone walls, exposed rafters and a corrugated iron ceiling.
"That intersection is really the absolute crossroads of Salamanca Place," Black says. "It's the heart of Hobart and the heart of Tassie."
Moss and the Henry Jones also share a common architect firm – Circa Morris Nunn – who have helped revitalise Hobart's waterfront strip, with Maq01 and Brooke St Pier under their belt, to name a few.
It's not just convict history being preserved here – in their most recent reincarnation, rooms 22 and 23 were part of the top-floor Syrup nightclub, which closed in 2016. While the hotel team has cleared the debris of last drinks, the DJs' posters remain papered on their walls. "That's our generation's history," Black says. "Everyone who's walked in remembers going up those stairs every Saturday night."
Find Tasmania in the bespoke handmade timber furniture throughout, and in the minibar, which includes locally distilled Sud Polaire gin, chocolates from the Tasman Peninsula and island cheeses. Moss also happily recommends its friends, such as Frogmore Creek winery and Maldini for breakfast.
"It's local in the extreme," Black says.
Rooms in Moss 39 start from $280 a night. See mosshotel.com.au