Hotel Lindrum, Melbourne
Tucked away on busy Flinders Street on the edge of the CBD, the 59-room Hotel Lindrum is faithful to its sporting heritage in more ways than one. This former billiards hall, named in honour of the sport's eponymous Australian champion, Walter Lindrum, is close to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the city's myriad other world-class sporting facilities, including Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open tennis grand slam. Trams – free within the confines of the CBD –run up and down the street outside with a plethora of boutiques, restaurants, bars and cafes an easy stroll away.
Fittingly perhaps for our most European-style city, Hotel Lindrum, which opened in 1999 as one of Melbourne's first genuine boutique hotels, can feel like the sort of quietly cool, understated hotel one encounters in the likes of London and Lisbon. The sizeable lobby, featuring reception, a restaurant, bar and lounge area, often echoes with the clank of billiard balls as house guests indulge in a game or two on the impressive restored table, a Lindrum Centre original, as are medals and memorabilia from Walter's illustrious career. A billiards mecca only from the 1970s until the late 1980s, the red brick Romanesque-revival building began life in 1900 as a store of the Griffiths Brothers, Melbourne tea merchants.
The hotel, which opened in 1999, has more recently undergone a refurbishment of its rooms by Bates Smart Architects, designers of Federation Square, just down the street from the Lindrum. The rooms, which range in size from 25 square metres to 42 square metres, feature king-sized beds, an always welcome proper working desk, a DVD player and Molton Brown toiletries. Black-and-white photographs of Melbourne adorn the walls but the hotel could afford to play up its billiards heritage even further, perhaps with some studies of billiard balls, cues and frames. Overall, the aesthetic, with a colour scheme of champignon, taupe and crisp white (to be precise), is pleasantly and stylishly subdued.
The attractive in-house restaurant, felt, has some stiff competition in terms of enticing house guests to dine on the premises, at least at dinner time. A few hundred metres or so from Hotel Lindrum, after all, are some of the city's stellar eateries, such as The Press Club, Pei Modern, Cumulus Inc and Tonka as well as the smart cafes of nearby Flinders Lane and elsewhere for which the Victorian capital is famous.
Hotel Lindrum is perfectly located for sporting and cultural events, with some of Melbourne's leading venues and institutions within walking distance. Fitzroy Gardens, one of Melbourne's loveliest parks, is just a brief stroll away, and even if you're not attending a sporting event at the MCG you can also visit the ground's National Sports Museum. If you'd prefer to stay in, the hotel offers a special "Memorable break" package which includes a private billiards and snooker lesson with a champion player as well as a five-course degustation dinner at felt.
Hotel Lindrum is the very model of a modern Melbourne boutique hotel. It's commendably understated, eschewing the gimmickry of other hotels in its class, with a friendly, professional and sartorial front-of-house team who handily double as baristas and bartenders.
The writer was a guest of Hotel Lindrum.
Hotel Lindrum is perfectly placed to indulge in the best of Melbourne, including its fine restaurants, superior sporting facilities and convenient tram system.
Many of the guest rooms at Hotel Lindrum are sans views, facing the unlovely walls and windows of adjoining CBD buildings huddled around this corner of town.