"It kind of looks like a hand warmer. Is there an opening on the other side?"
"Maybe some sort of bondage thing?"
"Have there been any conventions nearby where people might cosplay?"
These are just some of the theories posed on the weekend, after an object included in all rooms at a Melbourne hotel baffled internet users. The item at the W Hotel created a sensation on Reddit after a user shared a photo of the confounding leather and fur-laced laced object on their hotel bed.
The photo was uploaded to the subReddit 'whatisthisthing', along with the caption: "On the bed in my hotel. Doesn't open or anything. W Melbourne, Australia."
The photo pictures a black, cylindrical leather object with multiple cut-outs and a faux fur lining, propped up in front of the pillows.
The baffled hotel guest continued: "It does not open or unfold. The cutout on the side goes through. Placement on bed seemed intentional and was how it was left by housekeeping."
The image and subsequent clues sparked a wave of theories around the object, with thousands of critics speculating everything from a wine bottle holder or fascinator to a bondage device left by a previous guest.
Google prevailed in the end, with a handful of users solving the mystery and correctly identifying the object as a decorative helmet.
The unconventional decor is modelled on bushranger Ned Kelly's iconic steel helmet, reimagined as a Melbourne Cup-worthy spring racing fascinator, in a nod to local icons.
Traveller first wrote about the W Melbourne's pillow helmet at the time of its launch in February 2021, noting that each of the property's 294 rooms and 29 suites display the headpiece on the bed.
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of readers flocked to the article that held the answer to the object's purpose (or lack thereof), making it one of the most read stories across all of Nine Publishing's sites, including the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
The fascinators are a constant source of guest enquiries, according to W Melbourne's general manager Damon Page.
"It is questioned all the time via social media and calling to our Whatever/Whenever [service request] team. Many a photo has been taken with guests trying them on," Page told Traveller.
"Forget a boring throw pillow, we've created something truly unique."
The bushranger-inspired fascinators are also available to order from the hotel for $299, and come in two faux fur colours: red and yellow.
The headpiece was designed by Fady Hachem of architecture and interior design group Hachem, who were tapped to bring the hotel's design concept 'Reveal to Revel' to life.
The firm also took inspiration from local artists, aspects of Melbourne's laneway culture and the curving Yarra River.
Page noted: "The story of Melbourne really shines through at every turn and surprises guests in really unique ways throughout their stay."
W Melbourne is the second W Hotel to launch in Australia, after Brisbane, with a third W set to open in November 2022 after COVID-related delays.
Slated to be the largest W hotel in the world upon competition, W Sydney has transformed the Darling Harbour skyline with its unique curved, harbour-inspired shape rising over two elevated roadways.
The hotel is set to feature 585 rooms, suites and studio suites, a heated infinity pool, an all-day dining restaurant and bar, and a two-storey rooftop bar.