The guiding principle was that since the hotel is located in the gritty Flinders Street precinct of Melbourne directly adjacent to the iconic Flinders Street Train Station, the world’s busiest train station in the late 1920’s, the hotel should be equally gritty - yet still comfortable, inviting, unique and exciting. There is no Hilton Hotel world-wide with such a divergence from a corporate hotel look. To appeal to Melbourne’s heightened design aesthetic the new dramatic, gritty look begins along the exterior facade, featuring mild steel panels with differing profiles as well as steel louvered screens covering the windows. Even the corporate hotel sign has been totally re-invented to match the area and new look.
Once inside the customer finds mostly stripped back concrete walls, artistically "aged" and sealed to avoid the usual cold ambience produced by concrete interiors, eclectic steel profile walls, a teak and custom cast brass bar counter where customers check-in - yes, customers check in at the bar, 4.5 metre high steel, glass and teak wine towers, black leather cladding to the lift wall, a dramatic open kitchen at the rear of the lobby and no ceiling, leaving services exposed and acoustically flocked.
There is a dramatic centre lobby steel fireplace roughly separating the entry bar reception and restaurant areas with steel cage booths lining both walls to add both intimacy as well as intrigue. Dreamtime's founder Michael McCann's High School student daughter Michelena designed a striking matchstick art piece over the bar reception counter depicting the fascinating new art form of lightbombing. In addition to the challenge of creating a dramatically new concept for a chain hotel, and convincing all stakeholders to “stay the course” and not begin to “homogenise” the design and “sanitise” the features as the project progressed, the project had a very tight 4 star budget to achieve all of the custom work proposed and later designed, more akin to a 5 star Boutique Hotel, which comprised approximately 70% of all finishes and features of the Lobby and façade.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Melbourne Hotel was designed with sustainability in mind wherever possible:
- One of the main benefits of the “gritty”, pared-back Lobby, Restaurant and Bar is that very few finishes at all were used – the previous walls and ceilings were removed and the original concrete & brick walls only sealed.
- A standard ceiling was not used. Instead, Envirospray 3000 was used as the ceiling lining, made of 80% natural recycled paper fiber and is used both as an acoustic insulator and sound deadener. In addition to these qualities it also has thermal insulation properties that assists in reducing the thermal load on the Air-conditioning system.
- A complete Dynalite-brand dimming system ensures that the lighting is on only when it needs to be eliminating the energy wastage of having lights on when not required.
- The lighting is 98% highly energy efficient LED lighting
- The use of an engineered timber floor with species sourced from sustainably managed plantation forests uses significantly less timber than a traditional solid wood floor, with only 6mm of hardwood timber used in the flooring.
- Feature exterior and interior walls were made from recycled steel pipes found and manufactured in Indonesia.
- WELS-rated Kitchen and Bathroom Fittings were used.