With her busy life as a Getaway
reporter, when Natalie Gruzlewski checks into a hotel after a long day of filming she's ready for a shower and good sleep.
However, when she recently checked in to The Cullen, a luxury boutique hotel in Melbourne, she stopped in her tracks when she saw the array of artworks in the foyer, hallways and rooms. She wondered if she had arrived at a gallery by mistake.
The Cullen, in the inner-city suburb of Prahran, is named after the controversial Australian artist Adam Cullen. There are more than 450 of his artworks displayed throughout the property and it's overseen by curator Jane O'Neill.
It's the first in a series of artist-focused properties for the independent luxury hotel group Art Series Hotels. The Olsen opened in South Yarra in March and The Blackman will be opening in August this year. There are two more on the way.
Early in his career, Adam Cullen was known as an enfant terrible in the Australian art world. He was well-established in Sydney as a "grunge" artist when he won the prestigious Archibald Prize in 2000 for his portrait of actor David Wenham. That caused some eyebrow-raising among the more conservative members of the Australian art world.
His works are bold and graphic in style with a proliferation of drips and bright iridescent colours. His style has been called simplistic, crude, adolescent and puerile but he is one of Australia's most collectible contemporary artists.
The hotel's studio suites are open plan with spacious living area and The Cullen Suite on the top floor has two bedrooms and separate living area. All rooms have deluxe furnishings and a state-of-the-art kitchen and wonderfully comfortable Art Signature Series beds. Bathrooms have glass screens watermarked with one of Cullen's original designs.
The Hutong restaurant has the charm of an antique Chinese garden with a contemporary touch. Carved antique screens, silk curtains and red lanterns set the scene as diners see chefs in the glass-fronted kitchen making everything from dumplings to their famous Peking duck.
Terrace Bar & Bistro offers a seasonal Mediterranean menu with Italian influences. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and room service. The corner bar has outdoor seating on the terrace where diners enjoy a full meal or drinks and tapas.
If you fancy some fitness during your stay, The Cullen Gym offers training by former Hawthorn AFL football players Shane Crawford and Ben Dixon. If the gym isn't your thing there is a park nearby for a good work-out.
Prahran's famous produce market is across the road and Chapel Street's shopping mecca is nearby.