It might be an Instagram cliché but I love a patterned, tiled floor. And Mini Bar does one of the best in Melbourne.
But even if you are not an avid Instagrammer in search of the newest tiled floor or pretty coffee cup, Mini Bar is a pretty special space.
Mini Bar, is the first instalment in the rebrand of Punt Hill hotels and is inspired by the golden age of travel. Think old railways and 1930s glamour. Foolscap studio masterminded the design and they have created a space that compares favourably to a traditional steamer trunk or drinks cabinet: highly crafted, functional, compact, beautiful.
If design is form married with function, then the genius of this space is in its versatility. It is all at once, a hotel reception, concierge and café come cocktail bar. It is tiny by hotel reception standards, yet more glamourous than many lobbies four times its size. And the café feels at once cosy and grand. I sat down to a late breakfast on a weekday morning and didn’t once feel like I was eating in a thoroughfare.
A friend who is a town planner once told me that people feel most comfortable when they have an excellent vantage while being protected from view. And this is how I felt while eating my breakfast at Mini Bar. Guests checked in and left the building and all the while, I people-watched without feeling like I was being watched.
The space is also designed to evolve as the day does. Coffee and smashed avo in the morning becomes lunch becomes cocktails as evening descends. And again, I think Foolscap Studios have met their creative brief perfectly. I felt at ease having coffee and a late breakfast when I visited midmorning but could envisage sitting on the same stool, an aperitif in hand, at the end of the work day.
Soaring ceilings and expanses of windows make the space light and airy for morning meetings and work day lunches. While at the same time, smoky, sheer curtains and a mix of timber, concrete and perforated steel make the same space feel moody and sophisticated for the after-work-set.
The thing about design is that when it is good, you hardly notice it. I looked quickly at the reviews on Zomato and Trip Advisor. All are glowing and talk (accurately) about the great coffee and food.
No review mentions the feat of design that allowed them to eat in a space no bigger than 60 sq meters, that was a café, cocktail bar, hotel reception and concierge and to notice mostly, the food.