Ten more hidden spaces in Melbourne

In a city famous for its nooks and crannies, our recent blog about Melbourne’s coolest hidey-holes was never going to be enough. Here’s part two, from a secret pinball parlour behind a bookshelf to luxe rooftop camping.

The bar behind a bookshelf

Imagine yourself in a kooky mystery novel at Island Somewhere bar. In-the-know patrons give one of the bookshelves a push to reveal a secret passage, leading up a winding staircase to Pinball Paradise. Australia’s first dedicated pinball bar, it offers fancy drinks and 17 machines old and new.

A bar with lots of pinball machines in it

Pinball Paradise

The tiny library in Melbourne Central

A busy hub of shops, eateries, bars, a cinema and major train station, Melbourne Central surprises with The Little Library Pop Up. Quietly tucked away on the second level, this haven encourages visitors to take a book, leave a book.

A man reads a book, with a stack of books on shelves behind him

The Little Library at Melbourne Central

The artist-run space on King Street

King Street is better known for its notorious nightlife than art but perhaps Kings Artist Run Initiative is the beginning of an evolution. This unlikely artist-run space invites creatives of all kinds to form and present projects that push the envelope. From art exhibitions to film screenings and talks, it’s a hive of activity.

Loch and Key

Known these days as Captain Melville, Melbourne’s oldest bar harbours a few secrets, none more enticing than Loch & Key. Also lurking past a bookshelf and up some rickety stairs, this upstairs bar is a cosy warren of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Two bartenders making cocktails in a bar with wooden furnishings

Loch & Key

The swamp room behind Bar Ampere

Another surprise bar is the Swamp Room, where bayou decor and American tipples transport downtown Melbourne punters to the Deep South. Formerly reserved for private events, Bar Ampere’s mysterious back room – complete with fairy lights, and a bar made from a vintage piano –  is revealed to all for late-week chillin’.

The Nicholas Building’s treasure trove of ephemera

The Nicholas Building is integral to Melbourne’s reputation for hidden spaces filled with unexpected delights. It’s home to dozens of eclectic little studios and small businesses, including Harold & Maude. Victoriana meets Victorian Gothic in this unique boutique of found objects and recycled materials remade and renewed. You won’t find them on social media – so visiting in person is the only option.

A shop full of vintage furnishings, jewellery and oddments

Harold and Maude, one of the hidden gems in the Nicholas Building

The underground cheese cellar

If you’re seeking gourmet goodness, follow Spring Street Grocer’s old neon cheese sign down a spiral staircase. Behold! A white-tiled basement temple of cheese, sourced seasonally from around the world and sold at optimal ripeness. From brie to blue, your heart’s desire awaits at Spring Street Cheese Cellar.

A big display of different cheeses

The underground cheese cellar at Spring Street Grocer

Carlton’s hidden coffee roaster

The Vertue Of The Coffee Drink’s location in a hidden alley behind a petrol station is as obscure as the source of its name. Inspired by a handbill promoting London’s first coffee house, which opened in 1652, this business takes coffee seriously. A micro roaster, cafe, kitchen and retailer, it’s well worth hunting out.

A narrow laneway with tables on either side leading to a cafe

The hidden laneway entrance to The Vertue of the Coffee Drink

The car park from Mad Max

A couple of blocks away at the University of Melbourne, explore the carpark hidden under the vast South Lawn. Built in the early 1970s, its network of pillars is like an orderly forest of giant concrete mushrooms. An amazing architectural feat, this totally Instagrammable space was a location for the original Mad Max movie.

An empty dark car park

Look familiar? This car park is featured in a scene from Mad Max. Image: @onedeuxpunch via Flickr

The luxury camping hotel on the rooftop on Melbourne Central

Who would pitch a tent on a CBD rooftop? The folks behind St Jerome’s – The Hotel, that’s who. In fact, they have really run with the idea and pitched 21 swanky tents fitted out with luxury hotel comforts. This urban escape’s 360-degree city skyline views are head-spinning.

A luxury camping tent on the rooftop of a city building, with the city skyline in the background

St Jeromes Hotel, nestled on the hidden rooftop of Melbourne Central