Following close to 3 years of renovations, the Hotel Esplanade – or The Espy, if you’re nasty – is finally back in our lives once again, reminding us why it’s one of Australia‘s truest gems.
Ain’t it beautiful, by the way? *One tear slowly rolls down cheek*
Let’s celebrate by looking back at the iconic Australian bar’s history, PEDESTRIAN.TV style. Do you have your books at the ready, pupils? Superb – let’s gain knowledge.
The first hotel on the site was built in 1878 during the gold rush. “Oiiiiiiii there’s some gold here. That’s a bit of alright,” Melbourne, and the rest of the world, had begun saying at the time (verbatim, duh). People wanted in on the action – the hustle was real – so the hotel essentially catered to this influx of saucy gold-diggers. It also attracted some rather famous names from very early on – Mark Twain, I see you sis. (Quick sidebar: Jack Daniel’s was established 10 years later in 1866 – the two would come to form a beautiful bond.)
Then absolute ledge Alfred Felton came along. The Australian businessman and art collector moved into the hotel in 1891 and, when he carked it in one of the hotel rooms in 1904, died one of the richest men in the country. Cha-ching. He actually left half of his coin for local charities supporting women and children, and the other half (roughly $35 million by today’s standards) for the National Gallery of Victoria to buy art.
As the hotel began to evolve, so did its music. Historically home to jazz musicians, the hotel started to attract an eclectic array of rock and punk homegrown and international artists. An impressive alumni list now boasts the likes of Grinspoon, The Living End and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. RocKwiz with Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis also called The Espy home.
Now lets fast forward (because I have trouble paying attention in class) to the fateful day when it closed its doors to the public in 2015 and everyone was rightfully shook. Nearly 3 long years passed before the revamped Espy would grace us with its presence and make us feel whole again.
The Espy would also come to reveal its own podcast room, which is a beautiful 2019 flex that I adore.
Despite all the changes made throughout the years, though, the heart of the hotel, including the Jack-stained Gershwin Room, would remain the same. It still feels like an older, familiar time – like an old friend or your first childhood crush (before they held another boy’s hand on the bus and broke your soul forever).
Anyway, I digress – peep the vid below for a loving ode to one of Australia’s most iconic bars – and the perfect place to sink a Jack & Coke. Cheers to that, kid.