Moments between time at The Interlude Hotel

the interlude hotel

At Melbourne’s The Interlude Hotel, guests are ensconced in a reimagined space, where thought-provoking experiences and a sense of place, peace and solitude turn the concept of time on its head.


For most of us, those precious moments when the world around us seems to slow down are few and far between – like snatches from dreams long faded. On the rare occasions when they do present themselves, they come with a heady sense of quietness that has the mind unconsciously slowing down as well. 

That’s how it feels to slip quietly through the calm, warm waters of The Interlude Hotel’s 25-metre-long subterranean pool, which took three months to create. As the site of the former HM Prison Pentridge, a monumental archaeological-style dig through solid bluestone and basalt took place, with stacked boulders individually marked and removed by conveyer belt so that the impact on the historic structure was minimal.

Now, the reflections from rows of flickering candles flit across the phantasmagorical swimming space like stars in the night – and at the end of a lap, swimmers are met with a glowing frame offering another way to slip further into space. 

You can float on your back in this enchanting Neverland, looking up into two storeys of a grand hall and staircase that once led to the cells of Pentridge prison’s inmates. They could never have imagined that their place of incarceration could be so stunning, let alone quiet.  

Stories are everywhere you look. The tops of the once-rectangular stone steps leading down to the pool are smooth, shallow waves of their former selves – the thousands of shackled feet that often made the journey up and down here gradually marking out the passing of time.

This area is the B Division of HM Prison Pentridge, and if you’d been here in the past 70 years, you might have run into Ronald Joseph Ryan (the last person to be legally executed in Australia for shooting a warden) or infamous Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. Had it been more like 150 years ago, you may have met Ned Kelly, who had a short stint in Pentridge for ‘feloniously receiving a horse.’


Suite in The Interlude Hotel. Image: supplied.


The sliding doors of Pentridge


As with every other element of The Interlude Hotel, the original heavy steel and wooden cell doors of the suites have been painstakingly restored to their former hulking glory. They retain the latched hatches where once-minimal food rations such as stale bread were duly proffered.

The 19 suites that make up the hotel were created by knocking through the thick bluestone walls to link four or five cells together. Given the thickness of the walls (each stone being around 45cm x 40cm), it took some nine months to create a single suite. 

Each space has the original small, barred windows for teasing glimpses of the outside world, and the arched ceilings are also as they were – so you can lie on your bed amongst  layers of luxurious linen, and have the same view as the prisoners once did. The silence is so utterly complete, it feels surreal. 

Interestingly, the air conditioning is tucked away under the raised beds. This is because in order to deter inmates from breaking out through the ceilings, tonnes of boulders were poured into the roof cavities. If they chipped away and managed to make a hole, they’d risk being buried alive. 

This type of reverse engineering was part and parcel of one of the largest bluestone restoration projects ever undertaken in Australia. 


Olivine wine bar. Image: supplied.


Mastering the art of relaxation 


The Interlude Hotel doesn’t just offer a luxurious place to stay. Its focus is on carefully curated experiences that encourage guests to slow down and embrace special moments in time, while learning to appreciate something new and inspiring. 

This could include a lesson on charcoal drawing with a resident artist, embarking on a journey of tea appreciation and making your own infusions, or joining a wine tasting experience in the hotel’s exuberant Olivine Wine Bar at Pentridge. 

After check-in, guests are welcomed with a ‘Story of Place’ tour that includes wine and a tasting platter shared with other guests, where they can learn more about Pentridge from knowledgeable staff and guides. 

Upon arrival and departure, guests  step through the thick bluestone walls – the wide threshold beset with an impenetrable red door that separates the atrium and suites from the bright, busy lobby. Then it’s a short walk across the cobbled courtyard, where many a prisoner in chains was escorted in the past.

Looking up, the sky is framed by those famous castle-like walls that stoically kept everything in, and now keep everything out. Whether it’s a rainy day or one filled with sunshine, you’re stepping from a contained, quiet space back out into the bold, brash world, where everything is busier. Louder. Bigger. Where the moments fly past too quickly. 

No doubt many visitors have wondered how many prisoners took the same steps before them – a part of them being tugged back as though by invisible strings – a pull to turn around and slip back into the dark quietness. Back into the past.

If you enjoyed this piece about The Interlude Hotel, check out plenty of our other favourite things to do, see and eat in Melbourne. 


Travel to Melbourne

Rex flies to Melbourne. Book your tickets here and check out the route map below.

Scroll to Top


For travel inspo and recommendations, flight deals, and awesome giveaways straight to your inbox!

TrulyAus for Rex Subscriber Form