This grand dame nestled on the edge of the Yarra River was once the meeting place of travelling salesmen in its original guise as the Commercial Travellers Association (CTA). The 1913 building oozes old-world opulence from every ornate crevice. After decades of neglect, the complex was nursed back to glory, and since being acquired by Singapore-based Rendezvous Hotels it’s been modernised again, this time with an emphasis on creating cohesion between the heritage and newer wings. The property’s storied history is a big part of the appeal; past visitors include British royalty, and management hasn’t ruled out one day reactivating the ninth-floor rooftop space that once famously featured a netted cricket pitch.
Rendezvous’ light-filled lobby space, with its grand white coffered ceilings and elegantly masculine plaid carpeted Traveller’s Bar, eases guests into the past with a dose of modern flair. These understated nods to a bygone era do little to prepare you for the scale and splendour of the adjacent Grand Vestibule, the beating heart of the property. There seems to be some confusion on how to best use the cathedral-esque space – sparsely placed armchairs and tables cower beneath a double-storey domed ceiling, encircled by eight marble columns. It’s one of the earliest and most extraordinary examples…