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All of the Rooms in This Melbourne Boutique Are Airstream Trailers

Melbourne's funky Notel is a rooftop stay that's part mobile home, part luxury inn. IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER checks in.

Published on Mar 21, 2017


NOTEL, A MOLD-BREAKING HYBRID hotel, was created by James Fry, a guy who says he has zero experience in the hospitality industry. Chalk it up to fresh eyes or beginner's luck, but it has Melbourne abuzz. Set on the rooftop of a high-rise in the Paris end of the city's central business district, the funky property has only six rooms. Well, not rooms exactly but vintage Airstream caravans polished to a sheen.

The funky Notel is on a rooftop stay. Courtesy of Notel. Courtesy of Notel.

"It was an underutilized space, a beautiful blank canvas with a terrific view of the Melbourne skyline on the rooftop of a building my father and I own," Fry says. "We discussed many different ideas over the years but nothing was exciting until I came up with the idea of accommodation with a twist, in caravans."

The twists begin as soon as guests check-in via an app downloaded to their smartphone that guides them to a stairwell on Flinders Lane, one of Melbourne's most iconic laneways. The app then functions as a digital key to a door that opens onto a rooftop covered in red Astroturf. Front and center on a brick wall is a massive mural by Ash Keating, a local graffiti artist of who uses a high-pressure fire-extinguisher to spray paint large coarse surfaces.

Beds are made up with soft bamboo sheets. Courtesy of Notel.

Keating, whose work adorns many Melbourne laneways and overseas venues like the new Bikini club in Bali, says his random-looking mural at Notel was a deliberate study in branding.

"The palette was a dusty pink and that was key to the branding—a starting point," he says. "I also used purple and orange and silver paint to reflect the sheen of the Airstream and connect the wall to the rest of the space."

All six Airstreams at Notel have decks with outdoor furniture and heaters, while one caravan, called the Airstream with Benefits, also comes with a hot tub. Inside, glossy white and pink surfaces, a ceiling-mounted iPad Pro with Netflix, full-size en-suite bathrooms and sunken floors coalesce in open-plan interiors that Fry says have "no resemblance to caravans at all." Of course, that's the point. "I wanted people to open the door and go 'Stuff me, this is not a caravan. This is something completely different and very special,'" Fry says. "The whole idea was to wow people."

inside the caravans
Inside, the caravans are Sci-Fi chic. Courtesy of Notel.; rooms A$395-$440.



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The Airstream with Benefits at Notel comes with a hot tub. Courtesy of Notel.
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