Melbourne, Australia

The Interlude

Price per night from$318.72

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (inclusive of taxes and fees) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (AUD482.10), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Jailhouse rocks

Setting

Sociable Melbourne suburb

We might consider a life of crime if every time we were caught we got sent to the Interlude. Formerly Melbourne’s notorious Pentridge Prison (which hosted bushranger Ned Kelly), the 170-year-old, turreted, bluestone building has kept its spectacular architecture, but now guests sleep in sets of luxuriously dressed cells, the panopticon yard is set for fireside drinks and yoga, the canteen is a fine-diner, and the atrium is a wine-washed bar and arts hub. You might not be custodians, but you call the shots, with bespoke itineraries for each guest, featuring anything from tea-blending to era-hopping wine tasting – just some of the reasons it’s worth doing some time here.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A VIP welcome with a deconstructed cocktail each and gourmet chocolate truffles

Facilities

Photos The Interlude facilities

Need to know

Rooms

19, including two suites.

Check–Out

10am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £207.14 (AU$404), including tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast, a welcome drink and a tailored range of experiences (two a day).

Also

Unfortunately the hotel’s historic nature makes it unsuitable for guests with reduced mobility.

At the hotel

Art gallery, reflection garden, lounges and courtyards, bikes to borrow, charged dry-cleaning service, and free WiFi. In rooms: 55-inch TV with Chromecast, minibar with local products, espresso machine, tea-making kit with blends from Impala & Peacock, free bottled water, bathrobes and slippers, and La Gaia Unedited bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Rooms have been created by knocking four or five of the original cells together, with each individual cell forming a reading nook or cosy bedroom or marble-lined bathroom. They might still be lined in rough bluestone and have bars on the windows, but they’re very homey, with super-soft queen-sizes, local snacks, wines and tea blends, and ‘mindful journaling’ stations. The only choice you need to make is if you’d like a bath tub or not.

Poolside

The huge subterranean pool has a glazed ceiling so you can look up at the soaring atrium roof between hefty iron girders. It can be booked out in private 60-minute sessions, and during that time you’ll be spoilt rotten, with champagne to start, candles lit all around, balmy water, bespoke fragrant mists, and fruit, teas and infused waters to help yourself to.

Spa

There’s a couples massage room secluded beside the pool, where you can get kneaded for an extra charge as an add-on to your pool experience.

Packing tips

Bring an open mind for the more introspective activities. And you might be tempted to pinch the artwork from the walls – before you do, it is on sale.

Also

Fittingly, one of the hotel’s first guests was a former senior prison officer at Pentridge.

Children

This ain’t juvey – the Interlude is definitely one for the grown-ups.

Sustainability efforts

Pentridge Prison’s notorious inmates and dramatic architecture have earnt it local-legend status, and the Interlude has kept the bluestone structure much as it is, with the vast atrium, walkways, heavy doors, barred windows, exercise yards, panopticon and other original features still in place. Cells have been combined to form rooms, although their outlines are still visible, and to minimise impact on the structure, the subterranean pool was dug over three months, with stones recorded and removed by conveyor belt.

Food and Drink

Photos The Interlude food and drink

Top Table

The reflection garden was once an exercise yard and the vast lantern-lined space – with views of the guard turrets – is now the utterly unique setting for wine and cheese by a crackling fire.

Dress Code

No crimes against fashion please, Melbourne’s coolest come here.

Hotel restaurant

North & Common (open Wednesday to Saturday) might have two-and-a-half-feet thick bluestone walls and the odd bolted door meant more to contain the previous guests of the 170-year-old prison cafeteria it replaced, but nowadays you’ll be clamouring to get in here. Plastic trays and mediocre meals have been left to the past for refined, seasonal, multi-course dining, where the menu shows ties to farms and growers cross-country. You might have Appellation oysters, roasted Hazeldene’s chicken, pliant Flinders Island lamb, butter-poached Corner Inlet calamari, or Paroo kangaroo on flatbread. There’s a cheaper two-course option mid-week and Saturday lunches are the gathering kind. For light eats (mussel escabeche, stracciatella on sourdough) there’s casual hangout, the Yard. And pace your wine tasting by picking at kangaroo salami, fried garlicky sprouts or local cheeses in Olivine (serves till 9pm seven days a week).

Hotel bar

Ensconced in thick stone walls under the soaring roof of the former prison; moodily styled in dark blue, green and mustard hues, with a marble bar to prop up, Olivine has specialist sakes, sherries, ciders, and beers, plus a short and sweet cocktail edit (we like the tequila- and mezcal-spiked Old Fashioned), and plenty of choice for abstainers. But lest you doubt head sommelier Liinaa Berry’s commitment to wine, well, her drinks list quite literally has a preface, synopsis, chapters and an epilogue, with hundreds of regional and rare picks, and all the background and context you need. All of which take up three cells that serve as a cellar. If you’d like to know more, frequent wine schools are held here, honing in on worldly terroirs. You can also get to know the people behind the eye-catching artwork on display here at bookable sessions. 

Last orders

Breakfast is from 8am to 10am. From Tuesday to Saturday, North & Common is open for dinner from 5.30pm to 11pm, and lunch on Saturdays is from noon to 2.30pm. The Yard opens from 5.30pm on Fridays and from noon on Saturdays.

Room service

You can have a tray brought to your door on request.

Location

Photos The Interlude location
Address
The Interlude
1 Pentridge Boulevard
Coburg
3058
Australia

The Interlude is encapsulated in the turreted B Division of what was once HM Pentridge Prison, in Melbourne’s northern Coburg suburb.

Planes

Melbourne Airport is a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Staff can help with transfers on request.

Trains

If you’re railing in from Adelaide or Sydney (both around a 10-hour journey), you’ll arrive at Southern Cross Station, a 20-minute drive from the hotel. The two closest Metro stations are Batman and Coburg, both a 10-minute walk away, and on the yellow line, which will whisk you into the city centre.

Automobiles

You could navigate Melbourne using its public transport systems, but it’s also easy to drive in too, with a grid system your GPS will breeze through. There’s parking under the hotel for AU$25 a night.

Other

There’s a tram stop a five-minute walk from the Interlude on Sydney Road, served by trams heading into the city.

Worth getting out of bed for

Now, this isn’t your usual prison experience…which is obvious from the get-go, when rather than having a jumpsuit handed to you, you’re settled by a crackling fire in the spectacular panopticon (one of only eight in the world), handed a glass of Victorian red (sparkling wine in summer) and local cheeses and are encouraged to share your hopes for your stay. This induction also covers the prison’s history (it held bushranger Ned Kelly, the last man to be hanged in Victoria, the original ‘Chopper’ Read, gangsters and murderers, and poets and artists alike); introduces you to local heroes (Brunswick Aces distillery, Koko Black chocolatiers); and takes you way back to when the Aboriginal Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung lived here. Then what follows is a bespoke itinerary you’ve curated with the hotel team in advance of your stay (some experiences involve an extra charge). This might include a hosted tea-blending experience with Coburg experts Impala & Peacock; a tour of the artworks on-site (Rachel Derum’s collages, Holly Gregory’s raw ceramics, Alison Willoughby’s colour planes, Hannah Nowlan’s minimalist works, and Leili Tehrani Walker’s ‘wave’ series), followed by a meet and greet with the artist and a charcoal-drawing session; sunrise meditation or mindful movements with a specialised practitioner in the hotel’s reflection garden; a time-travelling wine tasting with Olivine’s sommelier, comparing flavour profiles across eras; or pairing chocolates with distilled and fortified wines, such as ‘forgotten’ French apéritif Mistelle. And – like some of the more enterprising prisoners past – escape the hotel walls to bike along Merri Creek or meet Coburg’s makers and creators (Cut Throat Knives, Pink Ember Studio, Josephine Powell Ceramics) on a tour, and add on classes in coffee art, collaging, pottery, and gin-blending. Then have a local host whirl you through the ‘hood’s food scene or nightlife, or speed through the sky as you learn to fly a helicopter, or have a professional take the controls and chopper you out to Mount Macedon Winery.

Local restaurants

La Pinta is a lovely lo-fi wine bar and eatery with strong ties to local growers and makers, and small plates you’ll want to stack up: the blackboard menu changes frequently, but you might have the house-smoked kabana sausage, confit lamb belly, and custard tart with boozy prunes… And there’s plenty to wash those down with. Follow the pink glow to Dexter Melbourne, where meat is firmly on the menu; the brisket doughnuts in hot sauce, caramel short rib and dry-aged cheeseburger are the stand-outs here, and finish up with milk and cookies. For something more refined, the Post Office Hotel’s menu has modern Aussie eats and a top choice of steaks.

Local cafés

For your hit of strong Aussie java, head to family-run Genovese Coffee, and for photogenic (and tasty) lunches, try Grounds of Eden where the salads and fruit bowls are colourful and smoothies come topped with flowers.

Local bars

This lively suburb brims with oh-so-cool bars, including Oh Loretta with its courtyard and twists on classic cocktails (mandarin negronis, cherry old fashioneds); cosy cobblers turned drinkery Joe’s Shoe Store with its bocce court out back; and mate-y True North, which feels like a home hang with a round of ‘spiked lemmys’ (lemonade with your liquor of choice). And you’re surrounded by breweries: Inner North, Alchemy, Gales, Bridge Road – you’ll find a well-poured pint whichever direction you head in. For serious soundtracks to your night out, Ringo Barr doubles up as a record shop and Bahama Gold has a renowned vinyl collection.

Reviews

Photos The Interlude reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this prison made very good in northside Melbourne and unpacked their cathartically scribbled-in journals and charcoal sketches, a full account of their chic chokey stint will be with you. In the meantime, let’s do some time in the Interlude…

Fascinating Melbourne stay the Interlude has had some, um, colourful guests over the years: bushranger Ned Kelly, criminal turned author ‘Chopper’ Read, after-dark bandit Doug Morgan… Of course, during their stay the rooms were somewhat pokier and less comfortably outfitted (we certainly doubt there was a mindful-journaling station); the food was less seasonal and carefully sourced; and the panopticon yard was for an hour’s exercise a day rather than mindful-movement sessions and fireside storytelling with Victoria wines. As an urban retreat, its rough edges have been thoroughly smoothed out, and now there are cosy lounging spaces, a subterranean pool for private sessions with champagne, and activities tailored to each guest. But, the bones of this historic bluestone are still in place, with hefty locks still on doors, guard turrets, walkways, window bars, and other prison-core features in place, all of which make it an enjoyably unique place – if ironic – spot for total escapism. 

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Price per night from $318.72