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SJB designs the ‘Rolls Royce’ of boutique hotels

A beacon of glamour and golden-age hospitality, The Royce hotel has given Melbourne’s original Rolls Royce showroom new life as one of the city’s most exciting new boutique hotel destinations.

SJB designs the ‘Rolls Royce’ of boutique hotels

Popular among the many corporate and private enterprises that fill the immediate St Kilda Road business district, The Royce has already quickly established itself as a go-to for out-of-town business trippers, as well as tourists, looking for a glamorous five-star hotel stay that also offers all the intimacy of a boutique hotel experience.

SJB has executed the design on The Royce, transforming the site into a luxury boutique hotel experience that takes its design cues from the opulence of Rolls Royce and its historic connection to the site.

You can find elements of that Rolls Royce legacy throughout – elements such as its Parthenon-like grille are conjured through repeating motifs in railings and nickel detailing. You get a generous glimpse of this in the sweeping staircase that stretches from centre of the Showroom Bar, transporting you up to the hotel’s Library and Ballroom.

The rich, glamorous and many-layered material palette also makes direct correlation to the Rolls Royce car through carved carpets in mauve and silver tones, polished Macassar Ebony, lacquered timbers, polished nickel and leather upholstered furniture.

Related: A hotel to nourish the soul: Angsana Chengdu Wenjiang by CCD

SJB designs Rolls Royce of boutique hotels

You might assume that you would get lost in all the grandeur and opulent detailing with its rich blend of Moorish and Art Deco style references, but SJB has skilfully maintained a sense of intimacy throughout the common spaces including the Showroom Bar which luxuriously stretches around the site’s generous street frontage; there’s also the opulent Lobby Lounge and sun-drenched Terrace, tucked like a secret conservatory to the back of the ground floor.

“We created a sense of intimacy by dividing the larger areas into a series of smaller spaces mixing larger functional pieces the bar and fireplace with cosy furniture arrangements,” says SJB director, Andrew Parr. “The large island bar in the Showroom Bar [for example] naturally divides the open space into two zones. The location of the feature fireplace again acts as a junction, breaking the area around into a series of smaller spaces.”

Parr also points to the metallic screens and ‘cruciform’ banquettes designed to encourage seating groups to curl around and become smaller – the perfect spot for two to three people.

SJB designs Rolls Royce of boutique hotels

In The Terrace, which houses a café and outdoor terrace, SJB looked to deliver a different purpose and experience, and really has succeeded in creating a best-kept-secret destination. “We originally nicknamed it ‘the Tiffany room’ with its feature blue wallpaper, detailed panelled ceilings and pastel colour palette,” says Parr.

“We sought to create a sense of ‘destination’ which was complimentary to the Showroom Bar but different in offering and experience. While the bar is lux, the conservatory has a European overtone and a sense of romance.”

SJB designs Rolls Royce of boutique hotels

The rooms – referred to as suites – feel both palatial and intimate, divided neatly into zones of bathroom, lounge and sleeping, with emphasis placed on views to the surrounding locale.

The bathrooms, finished in white Italian Carrera marble with freestanding tubs and hand-cut glass alcoves are both a destination and retreat – beautiful to discover and experience and hard to leave!

Referencing the nearby Botanic Gardens is animal and botanic imagery which appears throughout the hotel as printed wall coverings and artworks. This is carried through to the suites, with panelled walls depicting dreamy scenes such as moonlit-waters and richly-plumed peacocks.

The sleeping zones tend to be positioned with views to the outdoors, revealed through automatically operated curtains that slide smoothly back to reveal those quintessential views of Melbourne tramlines or the historical Melbourne Grammar and Shrine of Remembrance sites.

SJB designs Rolls Royce of boutique hotels

Parr describes the building as both extraordinary and extravagant, with the finessing and sumptuous detailing you might expect to find in a Chanel store – or YSL. Certainly the earlier reference to Tiffany holds special significance too. 

The grandeur of it all is most definitely felt, but is in no way isolating, rather it remains inviting, inclusive and comfortable: a journey of discovery and the kind of memorable experience that would keep you coming back for more.


Nicole England

We think you might also be interested to read about SJB’s Charlotte Wilson.

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