Change Overnight, Tasmania: Stay and change the world at Launceston's newest hotel

It's the dark end of winter in Tasmania, and it feels suitably as though I've stepped into a Dark Mofo installation. The long corridor is as black as the night sky, and urban sounds - car horns, traffic noise, city chatter - play through hidden speakers.

But this bunker-like corridor, inside a nondescript, minimally signed building on the edge of Launceston's city centre, belongs to no gallery. It's the approach to my room in the northern city's newest hotel, and one with differences that go far beyond this dark arrival.

Guests at Change Overnight, which opened in July, get to select from eight hand-picked causes - local and global - with part of their payment donated to that cause or organisation.

A single night's stay can buy 10 square metres of land for the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, fund a phone call for Beyond Blue, or perhaps supply 210 breakfasts to children at an orphanage in the Indian town of Banbasa.

Inside the hotel, changes come in more than the name. Though it's a hotel about humanity, it curiously has no human face. There's no reception - I've been emailed check-in and access details three days before my arrival - and the corridor is deliberate in its dark design, intended to sharpen the quality of light as guests enter their rooms.

It's an effective ploy. When I open the door to my room, I'm flooded with contrast and light, which pours in from tall windows and near-wall-length sliding doors that open onto a large balcony.

Other changes inside the hotel are more subtle. The 18 rooms aren't numbered; instead they have letters (A to R). I'm staying in B, a one-bedroom "Game Changer" apartment with a corner balcony looking over York Street and across the rooftops of Launceston's city centre.

The rooms have the rare treat of indoor plants in the living area, bathroom and out on the balcony, and street-art-style murals colour the walls - in the case of my room, a mural of a young Indian girl.

There's also a selection of books that match Change Overnight's theme of embracing change: a book about rebel heroes around the world, the feel-good release of Love Your Body, and the dreamy sea change of Australia's Best Beach Houses. It's as though the hotel's vision to "leave this world a better place" extends to shaping my own mind.

Advertisement

As the indoor plants attest, my two-level apartment is a homely space. The dark floorboards of the downstairs open living area are sparsely furnished - a lounge, a chair and a dining table. There's a kitchen with a full-size fridge, oven, stove and dishwasher, and a separate laundry room with washing machine and ironing board. Upstairs is a large bed and a bathroom with Thank You products.

The mini-bar features exclusively Tasmanian products: Hazelbrae House shortbread, Coal River Farm chocolates, Provenance ground coffee, Moorilla wines. Guests tot up their own mini-bar bill, with the opportunity to extend their benevolence - if you pay any extra than the set charges, the additional money goes directly to your chosen cause.

There's no breakfast at the hotel, but its location trumps the prospect of a charmless hotel breakfast anyway. Launceston's most interesting strip of cafes - Sweet Brew, Bryher and Samuel Pepys - is just 200 metres away on George Street.

When I return to the hotel from breakfast, I am again engulfed in darkness. Carbon filament globes provide the corridor with the faintest of light, but this alleyway-like entry has become strangely appealing, creating a sense of stepping through something urban and impersonal - the antithesis of Launceston - into the embracing light and open space of my apartment.

Can a place feel dystopian and homely at once? Apparently it can.

THE DETAILS

MORE

traveller.com.au/tasmania

discovertasmania.com.au

changeovernight.co

FLY

Qantas and Virgin Australia fly direct to Launceston from Sydney and Melbourne. See qantas.com.au virginaustralia.com.au

STAY

Change Overnight's rooms range from 'Heart Changer' studios, starting from $145, through to a three-bedroom 'World Changer' penthouse (from $450). The one-bedroom 'Game Changer' apartment with city view described here costs from $215 a night. See changeovernight.co

Andrew Bain stayed courtesy of Change Overnight.

Comments