From a cold and chilled history to a re-vamped him and trendy dig, we present to you Hotel Tolarno.
Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, is busy and buzzy, sitting on one of the prettiest parts of Port Phillip Bay. It’s had a rollercoaster history. Way back, it was one of Melbourne’s most fashionable suburbs, with grand homes for grand people. Then it slid downhill and became a centre for drugs and prostitution. Today, it is enjoying a resurgence and quickly returning to its heyday.
A former mayor built this grand mansion in 1884; in 1886 it was turned into a genteel guesthouse, complete with croquet lawn. A deco rear wing was added in 1933, including 29 bedrooms, a dining room and kitchen.
In the 1960s, a balcony wing and the present restaurant were added and in 1966, restaurateur George Mora and his artist wife Mirca purchased the property and opened the Tolarno Gallery and Restaurant. The murals Mirca painted as an inexpensive way of decorating are now revered. Art is still an important part of Hotel Tolarno. They sponsor an art grant, with the winner’s work displayed in the lobby.
James Fagan and Bernard Corser purchased the three-storey building in 1996 and with lots of love and care, brought the dilapidated boarding house back to the way it had been.
The owners briefed their decorator to create something different from other places in the area and that has certainly been achieved. The colours (green and purple, red, yellow and lime) are reminiscent of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Furniture includes 1950s-style green-flecked laminex tables and tubular steel chairs, deco armchairs and beds with embroidered spreads.
The 35-room boutique hotel enjoys excellent occupancy and the bar and restaurant are popular with locals and visitors.