Melbourne’s Hotel Esplanade has won the title of Australia & Pacific Bar at the 2019 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards.

Hotel Esplanade exterior

The title was awarded to designers Techne Architecture + Interior Design, who were honoured for their work on the venue’s reincarnation.

The global competition recognises the design of food and beverage venues around the world with entries from over 70 countries. 

“The award win shows how The Espy deserves to be recognised on a global scale and we are grateful our design work on the venue has been a success,” says Techne director Justin Northrop.

Hotel Esplanade chairs

“The Espy has a unique story and its design plays a huge part in this. It’s great to see it being shared beyond our borders and it shows how heritage still has a place in today’s hospitality scene.

“Our design work centred on bringing out the venue’s vivid past and creating layers based on its history and multiple uses instead of opting for a contemporary makeover. This has truly resonated with The Espy’s patrons, both old and new.

“While the scale and heritage nature of the venue posed challenges in the design process, the outcome has had widespread rewards for the food and beverage industry, the music industry and even extending to St Kilda’s urban regeneration.”

Hotel Esplanade interior bar

The Espy now features 12 bars, two restaurants, three performance spaces and numerous discrete areas across multiple levels. It and can accommodate 1,700 patrons across its 3,300sqm. Throughout the venue, the Techne design emphasises music and performance spaces, as loyal patrons of the old Espy would expect, while catering to a new generation.

Since it was built in 1878, The Espy has been a Victorian-era seaside resort and the hotel home to notable personalities such as entrepreneur, art collector and philanthropist Alfred Felton. It has been a jazz-era ballroom and a rock and roll mainstay from the 1990s until 2015 when it closed for renovation. 

Techne’s design work at The Espy was unveiled with the venue’s reopening in November 2018.


Photography by Shannon McGrath