Time Out says
I spy with my little eye a ... hotel?
If you have also wandered down Flinders Lane and wondered what those vintage caravans on a city rooftop were, we are here to answer your questions. The six vintage 1970s Airstream caravans form Notel, the "No Hotel" plunked on top of a CBD carpark. Whoever said we’d reached peak Melbourne clearly did not anticipate this.
Knowing that it is a hotel – and indeed, even having a booking – does not make it easier to access those tantalising aluminium beauties. When you book accommodation here, you'll need to download an app, whose unique code serves as your key. The app includes an instructional video and a note containing clues as to how to actually get onto the rooftop. It's sort of like an escape room, except you're trying to get into a premises rather than escape. There is no time limit except your own frustration. We don't want to spoil the surprise (owner James Fry says exasperation with entry is a feature, not a bug), but ignore everything you see written on doors. Like we said, peak Melbourne.
Fry owns the car park downstairs, and he was looking for something to do with the building's unusually flat rooftop (no aircon units, water towers or lightwells mar its surface). He toyed with the idea of a pool, office space or extending the car park, but unusual accommodation was the winner. He initially wanted the space to be Australiana themed, with trains, buses and trams making up the accommodation offerings, but he found the 1970s American Airstream caravan was actually perfect for the space. He sourced all six from California and brought them over, then hoisted them to their rooftop locale via crane. Each one has been completely gutted and fitted out with comfortable furnishings and touches like a rainfall showerhead and Bluetooth speaker.
The wall adjoining one side of the rooftop was painted by street artist Ash Keating, who used fire extinguishers full of paint to turn a boring CBD office building into a lurid pink-and-orange explosion of colour and joy. And yeah, it'll look very good on the 'gram.
The pink-and-white interiors of the Airstreams are all curves and clean lines, and the caravans are very much a 1960s vision of the future. The queen-sized bed is extremely comfortable, and there's plenty of space to move around (though if you're very tall, watch your head upon entry). Being boxed in by much taller buildings on three sides does a lot to muffle the city noise, and there's an aircon to regulate temperature. When we stayed, on a glorious spring night, we needed no climate control except opening a few windows. The curtains aren't blackout, so if you struggle to sleep when it's not completely dark, bring an eyemask with you.
There are little touches throughout, including the aforementioned rainfall showerhead (10/10 water pressure), luxe bath products from the likes of Malin + Goetz and Bar None, and the biggest perk of all: a free mini-bar, stocked with local Victorian drinks and snacks.
The Airstreams are $395 per night midweek, or you can splash out on the 'Airstream with benefits', which includes a private hot tub and balcony, for $449 midweek and $700 per night on weekends.
The space is also available for parties, weddings and other celebrations. Just make sure you tell your guests all the riddles they need to get in.
Cassidy Knowlton stayed as a guest of Notel.