The concept of camping has become a whole lot more luxurious thanks to St Jerome’s — The Hotel in Melbourne, Australia. You don’t even need to leave the city to get an authentic outdoor sleeping experience. From the comfort of a queen sized bed, a thin layer of quality canvas is all that separates you from the night sky and all that the vibrant inner city has to offer.
The hotel is the newest offering by Jerome Borazio and the ‘Get Notorious’ team, credited with establishing icons of the quintessential Melbourne laneway culture- namely St Jerome’s Bar (now closed) and the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. He seems to have a knack for finding new uses for under-utilised spaces. Bozario had known about the unused rooftop space for a few years but it was only once he actually stood on the rooftop one day that the idea came to to him: “luxury camping”. The site is sheltered from the wind and has views that look up at the city rather than down- a perspective worth celebrating. After successfully navigating a tricky approvals process, the camping hotel opened in May 2015 and will remain until at least November 2017. He prefers the term ‘Limited Edition’ over ‘pop-up’ in describing its longevity, to maintain that air of luxury.
The amenity and attention to detail is really what makes this a true ‘glamping’ experience. After entering via the concierge on the 3rd floor of the Melbourne Central shopping center, the 2200m site includes 20 Homecamp bell tents surrounded with native landscaping, fields of astro turf, decked out communal en-suite trailers, and a 24 hour ‘General Store’ servicing the guests with a mixture of casual campsite charm and high level concierge service. There is no cooking on site but an array of local businesses provide an esky/cooler/chilli-bin (insert country-appropriate name here) of goodies in your tent and plenty of options for room service delivery. There is a cocktail hour at 5, Grill’d Sliders for dinner, Gelato Messina ice-cream for dessert and a breakfast hamper delivered in the morning that includes a selection of local produce.There is really no need to leave the hotel with mountains of plush linen and pillows and a tablet loaded with movies for each tent, but there are also agreements with surrounding businesses to encourage you to engage with the city- including bicycle hire and a free game at the downstairs bowling alley. In the morning, treat yourself with yoga/meditation and a sauna on the rooftop- all included with your stay.
As an accommodation offering with a difference, visitors are able to engage with the city in a way rarely offered. It is a nod to the scenes in movies where forlorn characters escape to a city rooftop for moments of clarity amongst the urban jungle. The only other similar experience we know about has been offered in Brooklyn, but the care in execution does not compare. City life has gained a whole new perspective from the tents of St Jerome’s. If this isn’t an example of engaging with the city from a new perspective, then I don’t know what is.