Melbourne has long had a love affair with laneways. From chic shops, street art and the ultimate-in-cool eateries, some of the city’s best-kept secrets can be found in its intriguing labyrinth of laneways.
It’s no wonder that Melbourne’s legendary drinking holes are also tucked away in impossible-to-find places. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself meandering down dimly lit and deserted alleyways, past overflowing rubbish bins or along unsigned streets – wondering where on earth you are and if you might have got the directions completely upside down.
We guarantee that feeling bamboozled is all part of the adventure. And it’s well worth the effort once you’ve found your bar of choice. You never know what you’ll find.
If you enjoy over-the-top opulence, extravagance and a touch of lusciousness, Baroq House is the place to be. Nestled in the cobblestoned Drewery Lane, this outlandish double-storey establishment defies definition. A combination of club, restaurant and bar, it’s decked out in decadent Baroque-style interiors that create a carnival atmosphere of fun and fantasy (helped along by the roving magicians, fire twirlers and other such performers). This is the place where you can dust off your most outrageous costume and feel right at home. Dress to impress for an unforgettable night out. Start your evening early with a sumptuous meal and glide to the marble bar for some après-dinner drinks.
Beer connoisseurs adore this tiny but sophisticated bar in Driver Lane. Housed in the original 19th century Money Order Office building, the bar offers punters microbrews delivered fresh from the brewery as well as a delightful choice of fine food at its sister restaurant downstairs. Penny Blue’s intimate lounge atmosphere makes it ideal for visiting in small groups.
This iconic drinking place has an enviable street address on Hosier Lane, the heart of Melbourne’s street art scene. For almost 15 years, Misty Place has been a haven for cocktail lovers. Its kitsch interiors, adventurous drinks list and willingness to constantly re-invent itself have meant that it’s kept its position as a major player in the scene. Expect a den of contrasts and a crowd of arty, corporate and cool folk. The speedy vibe flows seamlessly outside. There always seems to be something happening in this famous laneway, so people watching is a recommended activity.
One of Melbourne’s most quintessential bars, Sister Bella is housed in a run-down building in the dingy Sniders Lane, in a former car park no less. A prime example of an urban space being put to spectacular use, Sister Bella has simple vintage interiors and a low-key, chilled out vibe, except on the weekends when you might find yourself jostling for bar space. For an uncomplicated night out in a cosy atmosphere, Sister Bella should get prime ranking on your drinks card.
Section 8 is no ordinary bar. When it launched in 2006, it was the talk of the town. It hasn’t lost any of its popularity since. With no walls or roof (apart from a handful of covered corrugated iron areas), the only solid infrastructure you’ll find here is a metal shipping container. In effect, the bar is a shipping container in the heart of the city, though you might not discover it easily. Taking industrial chic to the extreme, Section 8 – in Tattersalls Lane – is all about packing crates, steel drums, Asian-inspired décor, cool music and an equally cool crowd. If you’re not a night owl, take heart. You can soak up the bar’s energy over breakfast instead.
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