A trip through history with Hotel Lindrum and Felt Restaurant in Melbourne

April 27, 2017
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Hotel Lindrum, which is part of Sofitel’s McGallery Collection, has a colourful history and has been re-purposed four times in the past century.

The building was originally commissioned to be a sales space for Griffiths Brothers, well-known tea, coffee and cocoa merchants in the 1900s. Its design was meant to reflect the area’s Romanesque Revival style in red brick. This period in the structure’s history is referenced throughout the space, from the collection of tea tins displayed behind the reception desk to the variety of T2 teas available in the rooms.

From the 1920s to the 1960s, the Herald Sun headquarters expanded next door and for a while the Griffiths building was used as printing headquarters for the Verona Press. Eventually, it was acquired by the Herald and The Weekly Times, and renamed “Gravure House”. To continue this tradition, the hotel provides complimentary newspapers to its guests every morning.

Colourful orchids in Lindrum’s lobby make the space elegant and cozy.

By the early 1970s, the structure was ready for its third makeover. It was turned into the Lindrum’s Billiard Centre, named after its new occupant: Dolly Lindrum. Her family had produced four generations of billiard champions, including world-renowned Walter Lindrum, whose championship memorabilia now adorns the walls of the property. To celebrate this period in the building’s history, the hotel has incorporated a billiard room into the lobby’s space, featuring one of the original billiard tables. For those guests who wish to fully immerse themselves in this era, the hotel offers a private billiard lesson with world champion Robby Foldvari.

After its second decade-long stint as a newspaper house, the building finally opened its doors as a luxury hotel, one of the first boutique hotels in the area. The goal of the architects and interior designers was to achieve a unique combination of the warmth of a home but stylishness of a vintage club.

As we walked through Lindrum’s oversized door from the east side of Flinders Street, it felt like entering a secret oasis. The noise of the busy street disappeared and we instantly felt like we were home.

The lobby space is designed like an intimate sitting room, with comfortable couches in hay-toned velvet that glow burnt orange in the warm lighting. Burgundy orchids overflow from low vases and sparkling iced tea stands ready at the reception counter in a vintage crystal soda maker.

Our room was on the second floor and the high, rounded windows located on the building’s façade framed the bed. This architectural feature makes this room popular with newlyweds.

In the evening, we were invited to sample executive chef André Christian E. Dulay’s sharing menu at the Felt Restaurant located downstairs. In line with the Melburnian trend of eating healthy, half of the dishes were either vegan or gluten-free.

Dining out at Felt Restaurant is an exquisite experience.

As we took our first sips of the local white wine, the cheerful waiters brought out the first course of the night. We bit into the crispy croquettes and experienced the first taste of the creamy mushroom and truffle filling. The Thai-inspired pork and prawn dumplings came next on a bed of coriander and spicy red peppers.

The next course was all about presentation. The Gippsland blue-cheese dipping sauce was served on the side of a carefully arranged stack of breaded eggplant sticks, sprinkled with parmesan. Next to it, chicken liver parfait with sweet jelly was decorated with watercress. On the final plate, three Day Boat scallops were arranged on a bed of avocado cream and pickle rosettes, decorated with lungfish caviar and fresh purple Pansies.

Onto the final course and the pork belly, which turned out to be our favourite dish, was perfectly crispy on the outside and mouthwateringly tender on the inside. It was paired with an apricot, nectarine and peach salad. The entire dish was then drizzled in plum sauce, which brought out the flavours further. The chargrilled spatchcock covered in a pesto-like tea glaze was the final savoury dish of the meal, and the chef’s nod to the building’s history as a tea house.

Completely full by this point, we were tempted to forgo dessert, but changed our minds as soon as we saw chef’s creations. The apple parfait was easily the most colourful and creative dish of the night. The dessert was covered in a nearly neon-green sauce and accompanied by squares of blackberry sponge cake, pieces of crumbly honeycomb, and yellow flower petals.

It was a meal that will not be forgotten.


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By Katia Ostapets
Photography by Isabel Fernandez, Katia Ostapets & courtesy of Hotel Lindrum

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