There's a foosball table in the foyer; Ned Kelly and his gang lurk on level four. Any hotel named in honour of the late "avant-grit" artist Adam Cullen is duty-bound to do things differently and The Cullen lives up to its hype, its walls a retrospective of the Archibald winner's spirit. It wears its off-Chapel Street location well, leaning on ground-floor tenants Gramercy Social and HuTong Dumpling Bar for dining options. Upstairs, The Cullen's monochrome interiors, plush carpets and kitchenettes – very handy with Prahran Market across the road – pit comfort against a background of Cullen's edgy artworks. There's no sign of corporate blandness taming the hotel's irascible charm since its takeover by the Mantra Group.
A shameless dedication to commerce means everything from the beds and linen to the scented room spray and signed Cullen prints (the ultimate memento – why not buy two?) are for sale.
You want it, they've thought of it. Hire a Cullen-branded Smart car or Kronan Classic bicycle from the cheerful reception staff. Borrow a Cloud Nine styling wand or a Bugaboo pram. Minibars are stocked with hangover busters, and breakfast runs until 3pm on weekends.
The Gramercy Social breakfast swings both ways, with eggwhite omelettes and kale pesto doing for virtue what the "brunch cocktails" and Seedy Sunday Sanga (sausage patty, maple bacon and hash brown in a hamburger bun) do for excess.
The pre-mixed Melbourne Martini (or the kombucha) in the minibar and Gramercy Social's happy "hour" (4pm-7pm daily) are compelling reasons to drink in-house.
This review was made independently for the Gourmet Traveller Hotel Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way.