Author: Kendall Hill
12:04PM, Aug 25, 2016
Take six shiny vintage Airstreams. Hire a 50-tonne crane to hoist them onto the rooftop of a two-storey city car park. Kit out the caravans with designer fittings, ensuites and minibars - and what do you have?
No, not a hotel. It's a Notel, and it opens in Melbourne - above a laneway, naturally - on Friday 26 August.
James Fry is the man behind the elevation of the humble caravan. His family car park, Fry's Fast Park down the southern end of Flinders Lane, is the setting for the city's hipster trailer park where nightly room rates start at $395 for accommodation, with no staff on site (though a staff member is on call), no room service and no facilities.
But Fry is confident the concept will capture the imaginations of travellers seeking unique experiences in the Victorian capital.
The caravans, all vintage from the 1970s, have been "completely redone as very high-end, hotel-room interiors", he says. The six are similar except for one "Airstream with Benefits" (for $440 a night) that has a private deck with spa bath above Flinders Lane.
Common to all are queen-sized beds, custom interiors of bright pink, grey and white, and woven vinyl Bolon flooring, and swank bathrooms with full-height showers and Malin & Goetz toiletries. Complimentary minibars contain Melbourne-brewed Shiki beer, Paul Louis Champagne, waters, chocolates and snacks.
Airstream with spa.
There's no check-in or check-out desk. Guests download the Notel app and receive directions and an "air key" to their rooftop accommodation. There are no actual, physical staff on site. In-room iPads feature virtual concierges who advise guests on what to see, do, eat and drink in the city. Through Fry's contacts, Notel's concierge will be able to secure bookings at some of the city's more infuriatingly unbookable restaurants.
If people want more conventional hotel accommodation, "to sit in
their room and have food delivered to their door, I will help them
book at the Hilton", Fry says. "But if you are coming to stay with
us, we want you to go and experience Melbourne and really enjoy it.
You're going to love our Airstreams. But more than that, we want
you to find the hidden gems, live like a local."
Bookings through the website only: notelmelbourne.com.au.