Posted on 24 November 2018
One of Melbourne’s most iconic venues officially reopened yesterday, Friday 23rd November, and we cannot wait to see with our own eyes the work that’s been done over the last 18 months. Almost everyone that has passed through St Kilda will have fond memories of Hotel Esplanade, from live bands, to watching that beautiful sunset from the bay view windows, to straggling in with a thirst from a day at the beach; this venue has played an important part in Melbourne’s cultural history.
Built in 1878, The Espy has gone through many changes in its time. From exclusive residential use for the wealthy, to incorporating entertainment for the middle classes. It was an important jazz and dance venue in the 1920s, a killer disco venue in the 1970s, and a stage for some Melbournian, Australian and even international bands through the 1990’s and 2000s.
And then, quite suddenly, in May 2015, Hotel Esplanade closed its doors.
But the Sand Hill Road crew have come to the rescue. The team behind The Waterside, Garden State, and Prahan Hotel are giving The Espy some much-needed love with an unbelievable revamp that will bring turn IT into a destination like no other.
There will be 12 bars including the beer garden, public bar, a more expansive main bar, a light-filled garden terrace that overlooks St Kilda pier, and a basement band room. And they haven’t taken the menu lightly either, serving up an impressive cocktail list, a massive range of craft beers and ciders, and spirits directly from their in-house barrel ageing process, including The Espy Sticky Carpet Gin.
There are three band stages and two restaurants with a team of 60 chefs! One for your classic pizza and grill menu where you can also find a fine burger or fish & chips; the other a Cantonese restaurant and cocktail bar, Mya Tiger (opening early December), where you can line your belly with dumplings, bao and Peking Duck. There’s even going to be a podcast room for live recordings.
It’s also a fully functioning tribute to the arts, with dance classes, a storytelling event based on the fascinating life of Alfred Felton, who lived in Hotel Esplanade for twenty years and, when he passed away, left enough money in his will to turn the National Gallery of Victoria into the world-class museum it is today. They even have a spooky ghost tour of the hotel to get the adrenaline pumping.
But it’s the live music that has always been what The Espy is about – it’s the heart of the live music scene in St Kilda, and with three stages across five floors, there will be plenty to see over the summer months. Lined up artists include Dan Sultan, Tex Perkins, and The Chats.
With this rejuvenation, the long, storied history of The Espy looks set to continue and is possibly leading into its most glorious period, but the heart of the icon will remain – the bands, the live music, the sunsets – and we cannot wait to grab a seat by the beautiful bay window and toast to The Espy one more time.
For more on The Espy, hit this link.
By Andy Browne