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BAR Studio-designed Ritz Carlton a testament to Melbourne’s artisanal and global outlook 

BAR Studio-designed Ritz Carlton a testament to Melbourne’s artisanal and global outlook 


The luxury hospitality design practice borrowed inspiration from Melbourne’s constantly evolving arts and cultural scene to develop this urban retreat.

The Ritz Carlton  – which opened on 23 March – occupies the top 17 floors of Australia’s tallest hotel, the 80-storey-high West Side Place located on the corner of Spencer and Lonsdale Streets in the Melbourne CBD.

Delivering voyeuristic city views, the hotel features an expansive sky lobby alongside a bar, day spa, function rooms, a ballroom with a 600-seat capacity and a restaurant designed by Cremorne studio Layan

In designing the 257 suite high-rise, BAR Studio sought to fuse elegance with rustic urbanity to echo the eclectic streetscape of Melbourne. 

Co-founder and creative director of BAR Stewart Robertson outlines how the design aimed to exude a quintessentially Melbourne feeling by drawing on the city’s notable laneways.

“This sense of discovery and unexpected special moments in laneways is central to the design of the Ritz Carlton,” says Robertson. 

Melbourne has a hybrid identity of embracing globalisation yet never straying from the local. The design of the hotel reflects this fusion, alongside elements of the city’s rich Indigenous history and gold rush epoch. 

The hotel’s vertical progression communicates Melbourne’s multi-faceted history and creative diversity – the ground floor recognises First Nations heritage through references to land, water and Indigenous culture, while the lavish sky lobby on the top floor provides marvellous city views from an all-day dining lounge and intimate bar. 

The design ensures an intuitive guest experience through reliance on meticulous spatial planning and streamlined functional design. The soft colour palette, custom furniture and lighting of the guest rooms achieves comfort and warmth.

Artwork on display from artists such as Maree Clarke, Reko Rennie, Geoff Nees and Ash Keating fosters a sense of wonder and curiosity in guests. French designer Mathieu Lehanneur also contributed a marble water installation.

The references to libraries and writing rooms in the design also salutes Melbourne’s reputation as a UNESCO City of Literature. 

Curatorial Director at BAR Rowena Hockin says the team relished interpreting the city via a global design lens, as Melbourne is the original home for the international studio.

“It was an immersive and personal process for our team. We wanted to craft a cosmopolitan hotel inspired by world experiences but also deeply connected to our own city and creative community,” says Hockin.

Those from far and wide will feel at home at the Ritz Carlton, designed to embody the best of both global and local energies. 

Photography by Peter Bennetts.

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