St Kilda’s Hotel Esplanade will reopen this November, following a major redevelopment of the 140-year-old venue.
Taking on this major project is the venue’s new owners, hospitality group Sand Hill Road, who have spent 12 months exploring the hotel’s history in order to restore it to its former glory.
One of the most noticeable changes will be the scope of the venue, with parts of the building people never knew existed opening up.
Visitors will now be able to journey from the basement stage and iconic public bar to the expansive main bar, garden terrace overlooking St Kilda pier, Gershwin Room, a fast-paced casual dining kitchen, a Cantonese restaurant and a top-floor cocktail bar dubbed The Ghost of Alfred Felton.
“We’re not trying to please one market, that’s not The Espy,” says director Andy Mullins. “We’re going all out to create a world-class cocktail bar, and then only 27 stairs away have 800 people looking out to the ocean, drinking beers and smashing pizzas or heading into a gig at one of the stages inside.
“Different types of people, there for different reasons, day and night. That’s always been The Espy – a melting pot of Melbourne.”
Executive chef Ash Hicks will lead the food offering across the multiple dining spaces. The Espy kitchen, a casual dining space in the pub’s old loading bay, will feature an open kitchen with charcoal grills, pizza ovens and rotisseries working overtime to service the majority of the venue.
Mya Tiger, a Cantonese restaurant at the top of the venue’s grand staircase, will offer fast-paced Cantonese classics, matched by cocktails in the restaurant’s lounge.
Drinks will be led by group bars manager Kevin Peters and group sommelier Matt Skinner, who are developing a comprehensive drinks program that will include several hand-selected cellars and a beer and spirits barrel-aging program.
Hotel Esplanade has been designed by Melbourne firm Techne Architects, who describe the design philosophy as “kick-arse Victorian grandeur”. Each area will have its own unique feel, from the sun lit terrace with retractable roof to the elegant Mya Tiger, with its dark timber and rattan seating.
Stylist Eleisha Gray has spent months scouring the world for original 19th century furniture and antiques that will be used throughout.