A host of new hot spots will have visitors flocking back to Melbourne’s beachside neighbourhood St Kilda like a seagull to a hot potato chip.
Known for its unique atmosphere and diverse culture, the popular summer playground – located just six kilometres or a 30 minute tram ride from Melbourne’s city centre – is home to St Kilda beach, Luna Park, renowned theatres, iconic restaurants and alfresco bars plus a bustling live music scene.
Headlined by the much-anticipated return of the iconic Hotel Esplanade and The Prince Hotel and highlighted by the renovation of the infamous Gatwick Hotel by popular Channel 9 program The Block, St Kilda’s rich and colourful history continues.
- Hotel Esplanade
The iconic St Kilda live music venue has opened its doors for the first time in three-and-a-half years after the Sand Hill Road group – the publicans behind Garden State Hotel, Prahran Hotel and Richmond Club Hotel – gave the historic hotel a new lick of paint and then some. Affectionately known by locals as ‘The Espy’, the venue will host live music seven nights a week across three band rooms and features a culinary offering to rival any other. For the first time ever, all five levels will be open to the public offering music, arts, cocktails, beer, wine, food and fun, including a new cocktail bar in the top floor apartment of former long-term resident and philanthropist Alfred Felton. 11 The Esplanade, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182, (03) 9534 0211
- The Prince Hotel
A cornerstone of historic St Kilda, The Prince Hotel has all the comforts of home, with a little bit of Melbourne attitude after a redevelopment of the property’s 39 boutique rooms. Located in the heart of the cosmopolitan neighbourhood on Acland St since 1863, the Prince Hotel was refurbished in March 2018 preserving the hotels original art deco architecture. The new Prince Hotel serves up unpretentious luxury from its seaside location. The hotel is home to the storied live music venue Prince Bandroom, watering hole Prince Public Bar, casual Mexican eatery Cantina and the brand-new Prince Dining Room. 2 Acland St, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182. (03) 9536 1111.
- Prince Dining Room
It's been almost two years since St Kilda fine diner Circa closed but the wait is nearly over when the new Prince Dining Room opens its door to guests in December. Courtesy of a comprehensive revival of The Prince Hotel property, the restaurant will reopen under executive chef Dan Hawkins (ex-Stokehouse) and head chef Dan Cooper (ex-Garden State Hotel). The experienced pair have put together a Mediterranean-leaning menu for the Prince Dining Room, which focuses on vegetables and side dishes with everything designed to share. 2 Acland St, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182. (0 9536 1111.
- Captain Baxter
The popular beachfront venue has reopened with a fresh new look inspired by the tropical beach bungalows of the 1920s after a big make-over during the winter. With a huge kitchen and cocktail bar, the new Captain Baxter boasts cool white interiors, verdant greenery and a fully retractable roof – perfect for those balmy beachside evenings. The new menu will surprise and delight too. Fresh seafood (huge yabbies with a moreish butter sauce), Korean style chicken, the spicey lamb steaks that come with a warning. Signature cocktails are just the ticket (think Pampelle Spritz) or a wine list offering some of the best varietals from across Victoria. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay, no matter what the weather is doing. 10/18 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda VIC 3182
- Village Belle Hotel
St Kilda’s historic Village Belle Hotel has not been left out of this investment surge. The revamped hotel has been restored, renovated and is now an all-purpose, sleek, contemporary, double-storey venue encompassing all-year-round beer garden, public bar and cocktail lounge across four distinct areas. The new light-filled beer garden sits harmoniously with the heritage pub and features an indoor oasis of greenery and a retractable roof, to make it functional all year round. The new kitchen is headed up by award-winning former Executive Chef of Chateau Yering and The Lake House Mathew Macartney, who proudly sources the best local and sustainable produce resulting in delicious, outstanding pub food. 202 Barkly St, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182, (03) 9525 4000
St Kilda's iconic Stokehouse is bigger, bolder and brighter than ever, boasting a three-tier offering: fish and chips from a kiosk on the beach side (Paper Fish), seafood, ribs and easy-share plates from the casual grill restaurant (Pontoon), and refined dining upstairs, complete with uninterrupted views of the water (Stokehouse, hatted by the Good Food Guide). Whether it's a dinner on the beach in board shorts and thongs or a special occasion and dressed to the nines - Stokehouse is still St Kilda's beachside must-do. Pontoon's 18-metre bar is perfect to sip a cocktail or a frozé (frozen rosé wine). 30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182. (03) 9525 5555.
- Piccolina Gelateria
St Kilda has welcomed the arrival of Piccolina Gelateria on popular Acland Street. This tiny Italian all-natural gelato maker has built a strong following with cult classics including flavours such as Better Than Nutella (gf); Passionfruit (gf,v); and Choc Brownie with 70.5% dark chocolate (gf, v) and other inventive weekly specials. Designed by award-winning studio Hecker Guthrie, the facade opens up to the streetscape on bustling Acland Street where gelato-lovers can bask in the newfound summer sun while enjoying a sweet treat. Handmade in-store each day, Piccolina’s gelato is 100 per cent natural made using precise quantities of fresh, high quality and local ingredients and free from artificial ingredients, food additives, preservatives, thickeners, gelatines or colour. 137C Acland Street, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182.
- St Kilda Rainbow Road
St Kilda has always been a colourful neighbourhood but Jackson Street has been transformed into a giant rainbow in support for the LGBTQIA+ community. The 35-metre-long flag was unveiled in August right next to the site of the proposed Victorian Pride Centre, the first of its kind in Australia, which is expected to open in 2020. The Pride Centre will house the AIDS Council, the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Jackson Street, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182.
- Linden New Art Gallery
Linden New Art has returned to its much-improved original home on Acland Street after a redevelopment of the historic Victorian era mansion. The free public gallery, which opened to the public in 1986, specialises in displaying new contemporary art. Linden's annual exhibition program features work from artists across Australia and overseas. Exhibitions change every eight weeks and are supported by a range of dynamic programs to allow for visitors to learn about, debate and question contemporary art. Opportunities to meet artists and curators are a regular feature of Linden's programs. 26 Acland Street, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182. (03) 9534 0099.
- Supernormal Natsu
Renowned chef Andrew McConnell will bring back Supernormal Natsu for a 10-day pop-up at his Supernormal Canteen in St Kilda from 15-27 January. The restaurant returns after it first appeared during the NGV Triennial program. McConnell has long had an affinity with St Kilda after the culinary wiz refined his trade in the former Circa fine diner before opening his first St Kilda restaurant Golden Fields and more recently Supernormal Canteen as well as boutique butcher Meat Smith. Taking its name from the Japanese word natsu – meaning summer – will evolve to feature a 100 % vegetarian menu using locally grown organic seasonal produce. 2/157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182. (03) 9525 4488.