For Mark Dundon, the man behind Melbourne coffee empire Seven Seeds, there's nothing worse than staying in a hotel that fails to reflect its location. Cookie-cutter layouts and isolation from the neighbourhood are among his pet hates.
So those flaws are precisely what he and business partners Russell Beard and Ping Jin Ng sought to avoid when designing their joint project, Paramount House Hotel, which opens in Sydney's Surry Hills in early April.
They envisage the 29-room hotel as a portal to inner-city life, where "guests can become a part of the community and become immersed in Surry Hills", says Dundon. The hotel occupies the upper floors of the heritage-listed Paramount House, the former Paramount Pictures Studios, and the one-time film-storage warehouse next door.
It joins a hub of like-minded tenants. The lobby shares space with Paramount Coffee Project, downstairs is the Golden Age Cinema and Bar, where films and live music play most nights of the week, and upstairs are studios and a co-working office. On the roof is the new Paramount Recreation Club, with a kiosk and space for yoga, Pilates and exercise. A new restaurant, Poly, by the team at Chippendale's Ester, is due to open in June.
Dundon, Beard and Ng are well versed in hospitality, having established successful ventures in Melbourne and Sydney including Reuben Hills, Seven Seeds and Paramount Coffee Project. "The service we provide in our cafés and restaurants is about treating people like you're inviting them into your own home," says Dundon.
For the hotel, that philosophy translates into touches like furniture by Jardan, terrazzo stone in showers and wooden window frames, while 11 rooms boast a wooden Japanese soaking tub. Sydney gallery China Heights oversees the art, and a host of Australian makers feature: Aesop in bathrooms, Cultiver linen on beds, bathrobes and uniforms by Worktones, and ales by Wildflower might be among the booze offerings at check-in.
Breathe Architecture, the Melbourne firm that worked on Seven Seeds, were brought on for the four-year project, which involved adding two-storeys to the previously vacant building that sits next door to Paramount House. While it's the firm's first hotel, Breathe has won multiple awards for its work on Melbourne apartment building The Commons, which brings residents together through design features such as a rooftop garden with vegetable patches and beehives.
"Breathe is offering a new vision in regards to how people live," Dundon says. "Its approach to hotels will be welcome."
Most rooms have enclosed terraces, connecting the hotel to the streets below, and the interior design highlights the building's existing heritage features Paramount House Hotel marks another hotly anticipated addition to Commonwealth Street, following the opening of Chris Lucas's Sydney outpost of Chin Chin in the Griffiths Tea Building last year.
Paramount House Hotel, 80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, NSW, paramounthousehotel.com