Melbourne’s The Royce exudes the glamour and comfort of a bygone era

The Royce
The Royce

Conjuring a rare combination of intimacy and grandeur, this glamorous Melbourne newcomer doesn’t disappoint

My Uber crawls through the city traffic. It’s a rainy night in Melbourne and the football is on, so we are going nowhere, fast. The driver laments over the choked streets jammed with honking cars sitting bumper to bumper, bopping umbrella tops and wet figures seeking reprieve from the downpour in invitingly lit restaurants and bars. We finally break free of the densely packed CBD streets to head south, past the iconic façades of Hamer Hall, the Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria, to follow the stretch of parklands loosely referred to as ‘The Tan’ – where Melburnians run rings around the 3.8km track that encircles its beautiful botanic gardens.

As we pull up to The Royce – a stone’s throw from Melbourne’s CBD – it appears as a beacon of glamour and comfort, glowing in the rainy night. A breathtaking port-cochère dominates the scene, framed by a grand, sweeping staircase and anchored by velvety dining chairs grouped intimately around tables. A resplendent bar fills the centre of the space, beckoning me in for an aperitif. I spring free of the Uber and dash towards my destiny.



The Royce occupies a heritage-listed building, originally designed in 1928 by architect Harry Norris and prestige car agent, Kellow Falkiner. As the site of the original home of Rolls Royce in Melbourne, both The Royce’s namesake and the glamorous 1920s-like scene I’ve described are in step with the hotel’s heritage.

The design of The Royce is truly something else. Its blend of Moorish and Art Deco style effortlessly conjures the grandeur and glamour of yesteryear’s five-star hotels. This, combined with layers of beautiful, bespoke details and thoughtful touches of hospitality, elicits a sense of intimacy, discovery and strong connection to place that defines the boutique hotel experience.

Extravagance and prestige live in every facet of the common spaces – from the lavish Lobby Lounge to the sleekly sophisticated Showroom Bar. In the latter, carved carpets in mauve and silver tones and various cosy nooks invite you to lounge or work, and quietly appreciate the beauty of your surrounds.

On The Terrace, an elegantly appointed dining area, it feels as if you’ve stepped into an enchanted menagerie. Here, you can enjoy breakfast from a menu so extensive you’ll have a hard time choosing just one dish – and take coffee as you admire the botanical imagery that adorns the panelled walls.

Design firm SJB was responsible for the magnificent design of The Royce. “The design language references the great hotels of London in terms of luxury, but as the Rolls Royce showroom there is incredible history that really speaks to Melbourne being the richest city in the world during that time [following Melbourne’s land boom in the 1880s],” says Andrew Parr, director at SJB. “It’s quite an extraordinary and extravagant building [with] the same finesse of detailed and overt sumptuousness as you likely see in a Chanel or YSL store.”

In the room

The Royce has thoughtfully placed me in the Boulevard Suite – just one of its 94 rooms – and the hotel has seemingly spared no expense in appointing its rooms with the same Art Deco glamour that defines the rest of the hotel.

The suite is divided into zones of bathroom, lounge/bar and bedroom, and each is treated as a centrepiece in its own right. I linger in the bathroom, admiring the beauty and symmetry of its hand-cut glass alcoves, and take advantage of the deep, freestanding bath. The whole space feels almost palatial, inviting you to savour the time spent in rejuvenating and pampering yourself.

The intimacy and comfort offered by the lounge zone is complemented by the beauty of its softly lamp-lit panelled walls, which bear imagery of peacocks overlooking a lake – a dreamy escape. A mirrored half-moon-shaped bar brings in that Art Deco glamour and conceals edible comforts and ample refreshment.

Overlooking the street below, the bedroom is a welcome retreat, with a bed that salves all the tension and pressure built up by travel. What’s perhaps most charming of all is the sound of the tram bells gently filtering through into the morning calm of my private suite – a delightful reminder that you are in Melbourne and that the day awaits.


A wander up the grand staircase, which cleverly references the Rolls Royce grille in its railings and nickel detailing, quickly transports you to the Library and Ballroom. The sense of discovery here is rich, the Library featuring floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lined in a curated collection of classic and enticing reads. Akin to the bespoke clubs of London, a glance to the right reveals a clever speakeasy-style bar counter where you can order a drink before settling into a deep-set lounge chair.

Beyond the Library is the Ballroom, a jewel of a space hidden within the hotel, richly appointed and generous in its proportions but also consciously sized to hold just 150 people. This sums up the essence of The Royce: a hotel that skilfully conjures intimacy within grandeur – a special combination. Expansive in its beauty and finishing, a beautiful and rare experience to savour, unique in its references to a bygone era of grand Melbourne living and old-world hospitality and, ultimately, made just for you. At The Royce, you never lose yourself in the spaces, and find plenty of opportunities to experience a little joy.

Rates at The Royce, Melbourne start from $420 per night.

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