Bennetts Lane used to be where you'd head for a little late-night saxophone and moonshine. The laneway's Jazz Club, which closed in mid-2017 after 25 years, was one a Melbourne jazz institution, hosting gigs by locally and internationally renowned artists — including, even, Prince.
Now, the laneway is about to be home to a fancy new jazz era-inspired boutique hotel. A collaboration between Aust Global Investment and designers Breathe (who recently design Sydney's award-winning Paramount House Hotel) and Plus Architecture, the hotel will seek to retain a little of the art deco moodiness of the original jazz club.
It'll be home to 44 rooms across 13 levels as well as – in perhaps the best news – a speakeasy in the basement from which we can only hope the strains of Miles Davis will echo. Initial designs of the hotel show jazz-inspired architecture, brass features, curved forms referencing instruments, and a general vibe of the hidden underground side of Melbourne. Using locally sourced furnishings and fittings, Plus Architecture's design will see reception and a cafe area on the ground floor spilling out onto the laneway, prime real estate for sipping an espresso.
The design might be just about done but the next step is finding the drivers that have the oomph to run the place. Putting the call out for a hospitality provider, the hotel is currently calling for expressions of interest. The prospective operator would be stepping into some pretty big shoes — Bennetts Lane Jazz Club was a fiercely loved Melbourne institution and an integral part of the city's jazz scene.
Here's hoping for more late nights spent sipping whisky and listening to smooth jazz, even if it's in a hotel bar.