Finding Notel is a mission in and of itself: before finding the hidden door in a nearby coffee shop you’ll need to acquire a secret code for your smart phone, which you will then need to swipe at the entrance. With no concierge to lead the way, the Notel experience from the beginning makes it clear that this is no ordinary hotel in Melbourne and guests should expect the unexpected. After making your way to the rooftop, the sight of six shiny silver airstream caravans are there to greet you, ready for a unique stay that is perfect for those who aren’t after your typical hotel fare.
Shipped over across the Pacific and all the way to Geelong, James Fry journeyed to the United States on a mission to find and facilitate the acquisition of authentic 1970s airstreams, so beginning the Notel adventure. Fry had owned the three-storey carpark with his father for the past decade and felt that the location was perfect to create something special in the heart of Melbourne. The six airstreams were completely cleared out before their voyage, and upon arrival in Flinder’s Lane, were lifted to the rooftop of the car park with the use of a 50 tonne crane.
“I had a million ideas of what I wanted to do with the space. I tossed around roof top cinemas, restaurants and even a pool, but I wanted something totally different and something that would excite everyone. I feel with NOTEL that we have nailed it. This prime real estate in the heart of the city that will bring people into Melbourne,” says Fry, “Every new wrinkle I have and every bag under my eye has been worth it. I know everyone will love NOTEL as much as I do.”
With the electric pink and white interiors being designed by Edwards Moore, and the overall development and planning by architects FMSA, Notel is a retro revival that is simultaneously extremely modern. The amenities include complimentary wi-fi and Netflix, as well as a free mini bar packed with treats. Inside each airstream, the sheets, linen, towels, and bathroom products have all been specified from local Melbourne businesses, exemplifying Fry’s passion for supporting the local community and his enthusiasm for all that is Melbourne.
For Fry, ““We are all about Melbourne – the street art, coffee culture, the food, the fashion and all the hidden little gems. We want everyone to experience Melbourne as a local and not as a tourist.”
Words by Christina Rae.
Photography by Andrew Curtis.