The variety of slightly dated boutique hotels and never ending strip of same-same corporate serviced apartments that saturate Melbourne leaves little for the guest wanting an experience. So Jerome Borazio took matters in to his own hand and although not a hotelier, I think there was no better person qualified for the task.
With a vision for seeing the city in a different light and conceptualizing rooftop luxury camping, the eponymous bar owner started out on a feat I can only imagine was riddled with permit, planning and building hurdles. For Jerome, I hope this success will be a long one because St Jeromes The Hotel is the kind of establishment everyone should try at least once.
Dragging my roller past Hoyts Cinema up on level three of Melbourne Central, I stumbled upon a mysterious entrance with a young hip front desk. Double doors with no signage open and there plushly laid out is a rooftop garden with turf and rows of tents. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.
There are two types of tents available, the Luxe Plus 3m x 5m and the Flinders Bell 2.5m x 4m. If you're going to stay just once book the Luxe Plus for extra comfort including ottomans and front decking. Queen beds are overstocked with blankets and pillows for the most reptile of sleepers. Robes, slippers and gumboots are on hand for the commute to the portable bathrooms. A short stroll and you've got a full sized shower, toilet and basin stocked with Swisse and Tony and Guy amenities.
Afternoons are passed at the General Store, a hub for coffee and a stocked beer fridge. Cupcakes and macarons are served from 3pm till 5pm and it seemed most guests were out shopping which meant all the more for me. Cocktail hour started at 5pm and Espresso Martinis were flowing. The day had gone and I hadn't ventured off site.
The true value of staying at St Jeromes is being able to watch the sun go down on a Melbourne rooftop away from the crowds. The views are unique and the glow of the tents while sipping a cocktail feels intimately romantic.
Next door, Strike Bowling gives tent guests a free game, which was one of the best perks of my stay. A homing call card is provided in the event of being locked out of Melbourne Central in the early hours and Grill'd burgers can be ordered on demand. The fully stocked mini bar is complimentary and books, blank notepads and umbrellas ensure you're well taken of. Jerome and his staff have paid close attention to detail and successfully achieved the glamping trend.
Overnight winds bellowed but the tent stayed strong and there was no need for the electric blanket or heater, despite a low of 3 degrees. A hum of city traffic reminded me of living in my old Upper West Side apartment in New York, dialed down. It was oddly calming.
At a time nominated by the guest, breakfast boxes are delivered with artisinal chocolates, salmon bagels, chia puddings and your choice of coffee. I opted for a hot chocolate and it was thick, dark and smooth. If the choices are too limited for your taste, you're smack bang in the CBD with plenty of options.
Glamping seemed reserved for celebrities at Coachella and luxury safaris but Jerome has created a hotel that is attracting all sorts of crowds. Wifi, amenities well above basic and little touches make this a fun night out. I'd book your stay quickly as the lease is short term, but I have a feeling it's going to be so popular it will extend right through Summer (fingers crossed).
FEEL: Swanky rooftop camping.
ROOM PICK: Luxe Plus tent.
WIFI: Yes, complimentary.
BREAKFAST: Included - artisanal selection breakfast box with coffee choice.
RATES: $330-$360 midweek, $360-$390 weekend.
CHILDREN: Yes but not recommended.
IN-ROOM: Queen bed, electric blanket, several throws, robes, slippers, gumboots, umbrellas, reading material.
MINI BAR: included - beers, sodas, water, nut snacks, writing pad, pencil, bowling pass.
I stayed courtesy of St Jeromes The Hotel