Esplanade Hotel (Melbourne)

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The Esplanade Hotel
The Esplanade Hotel on The Esplanade in St Kilda (1).jpg
General information
Address 11 Upper Esplanade, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates 37°51′51″S 144°58′22″E / 37.86417°S 144.97278°E / -37.86417; 144.97278
Opened January 7th, 1878[1][2]

The Esplanade Hotel, built 1878, is an iconic public house in St Kilda, a beachside suburb of Melbourne, Australia. It is situated on St Kilda Beach, at 11 Upper Esplanade, overlooking Port Phillip Bay on a rise opposite the St Kilda Pier, and is a significant landmark of St Kilda. It is commonly known locally as "The Espy".


The Esplanade Hotel circa 1885

The hotel was built in 1878[2] and remains one of the earliest, largest and most prominent 19th-century resort hotels in Victoria. Originally intended to be three large terraces, the building was altered to become a hotel during construction, and became one of the premier hotels in Melbourne outside the city. Alterations were made in 1921 changing it from exclusive residential use for the wealthy to incorporate entertainment for the middle classes, with the addition at the ground floor of a grand staircase and lounge bar.

Between 1920 and 1925, the "Eastern Tent Ballroom" constructed to the rear of the site became an important jazz venue and dance venue, then the main entertainment district in Melbourne. In the 1970s, the Hotel's Gershwin Room, a grand dining room, was turned into a disco - complete with flashing Saturday Night Fever-style dance floor. The Esplanade Hotel was classified by the National Trust of Australia in October 1990.[3]

Notable residents and visitors[edit]

The Esplanade Hotel was the home of wealthy philanthropist and National Gallery of Victoria benefactor Alfred Felton from 1892 until his death in 1904. The hotel also hosted many famous visitors, including Mark Twain in the 1880s, and actress Sarah Bernhardt in 1920.[2]


The Esplanade Hotel is the longest continuously running live music venue in Australia.[4] In May 1995, Paul Kelly recorded tracks for his album, Live at the Continental and the Esplanade (1996), in the hotel's Gershwin Room.[5] Since 2005, the SBS music quiz show RocKwiz has been filmed in the same room. Show host Julia Zemiro used to work at the hotel as a waitress.


The hotel was bought by Carlton and United Breweries in 1995 and then by Becton Corporation in 1997 with plans to develop a large residential and retail complex on the site. Redevelopment plans have been met with community opposition supporting the Espy's role in Melbourne culture and independent music scene. Becton's proposal for the 35 storey residential complex resulted in 9,000 residents registering objections and the trade union movement threatening to boycott construction if the pub was demolished.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "MEMORANDA.". The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian (831). Victoria, Australia. 12 January 1878. p. 3. Retrieved 16 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia. , ...The handsome new hotel lately erected on the St. Kilda Esplanade, and called the Esplanade Hotel, was formally opened on Monday. It is erected on the site of the old Criterion Hotel...
  2. ^ a b c "Esplanade Hotel". Retrieved on 9 August 2009
  3. ^ Esplanade Hotel /Other Names:Baymour Court Flats , Carlyon's Esplanade Hotel , The Espy /Location: 11 - 12 The Esplanade, ST KILDA, PORT PHILLIP CITY /File Number:B6136, Victorian Heritage Database
  4. ^ Cashmere, Paul (2008-10-21). "The Espy Turns 130". Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  5. ^ Blanda, Eva (October 2003). "The Recordings of Paul Kelly as a Solo Artist". Other People's Houses. Australian Music Web Site. Archived from the original on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Esplanade Hotel". The Melbourne Magazine. 2005-09-27. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  • "SBS: Summer / Autumn" by David Knox, TV Tonight, (23 September 2010)

External links[edit]