A sweet return for landmark Adelphi

Melbourne's Adelphi Hotel, with its glass-bottom swimming pool jutting out over Flinders Lane, has quietly re-opened after closing this year because of financial difficulties with the Australian Tax Office.

With new owners, the 34-room boutique property has had a makeover and been re-invented as the world's only "dessert-themed" hotel.

The new-look five-star Adelphi started taking guests two weeks ago and its intimate 40-seat dessert restaurant and bar, Om Nom, opens for sweet tooths on Monday.

The two-hatted Ezard restaurant, which The Age Good Food Guide describes as the "epitome of smooth", continues to trade in the basement.

The dessert theme starts in the new lobby with jars of lollies and bowls of sticky toffee apples on the reception counter.

When guests get to their rooms there are more free sweets in the bar fridge, including home-made fairy floss and popcorn from the kitchen of French-trained Christie-Tanya Angwidjaja, who worked as a pastry chef at the Ritz in Paris. She has teamed up with internationally renowned pastry chef Pierrick Boyer, who is acting as a consultant.

Even the turn-down service delivers sweets, with home-made macaroons every night.

The hotel's rich furnishings are dessert-themed, too, from carpets patterned like cakes to licorice all-sort stools.

"The colours and textures of the hotel are all based off desserts," said designer Fady Hachem. "But it's not weird. It's not too out there. It's very comfortable and done subtly."


The new owner of the Adelphi is the Icon Hotels Group, comprising managing director Dion Chandler, Ozzie Kehir and Simon Ongarato.

Mr Chandler was manager of the hotel for the previous owner, the Gabriel Hotels Group, for four years before it went into liquidation on February 1.

Apart from its debt problems, he said a two-year 22-storey building construction opposite the hotel had driven guests away.

"There was construction noise from 7am to 7pm six days a week. That was the end of us."

The Adelphi Hotel was built in 1938 as a warehouse for the rag trade before being turned into an edgy hotel in 1993 by architects Denton Corker Marshall, whose radical minimalist industrial design attracted celebrity guests and global acclaim as one of the world's hippest hotels.

"But over the years it had become neglected," Mr Hachem said. "It was a shadow of its former self. We have retained some of the DCM elements but we made a decision to rebrand because there was also a 'failing' stigma with the hotel going into receivership twice."

The ninth-floor pool deck will be refurbished in April with a bar, a barbecue area and possibly a small cinema.