The Imperial Hotel Erskineville, Birthplace of the Movie Priscilla, Get's a Makeover
The Imperial Hotel Erskineville, Birthplace of the Movie Priscilla, Get’s a Makeover
The three-level Imperial Hotel Erskineville is a ‘palace of pleasure’. Designed by Alexander &CO, a Sydney, Australia-based multidisciplinary design practice with a global reach, this project represents the relaunch of one of Australia’s most revered LGBQTI safe havens. As a cultural icon, it was the birthplace of the movie Priscilla and plays a pivotal role in the greater Sydney community as a historic theatre and event space. It is dynamically programmed and responsive, turning from dining to dance floor with ease.
On the hotel’s ground floor is a stunning 250-seat restaurant called Priscillas. Conceived as a lost palace, a cabaret dreamscape of haphazardly replaced stone floor tiles and detailed timberwork. Various hand forged steel-framed glass houses and skylights throw shadows over broken brickwork, hand laid masonry arches and bespoke tile patterns. The melted wax from the central fireplace and hearth contrast the vivid colorways of the furniture and the dirty pink tones of the detailed ceilings and walls.
The project is illuminated by various repurposed lampshades and brass wall sconces. Carefully curated fringed pendants throw shadows upon table settings whilst the main entry is notably illuminated by broken-down chandeliers. The space also features a private dining area with a large paper sculpture and an open kitchen. The main bar features a bespoke cathedral-esque/Biblical fresco ceiling mural with the adjoining theatrical cocktail bar opening out onto a glazed enclosure to an inner courtyard and winter garden.
More Than Just Decor
The project is careful to reimagine this cultural building icon into a place of fantasy whilst respectfully acknowledging its LGBQTI custodians. It is outrageous, inclusive and fantastic but not light. Amongst its array of color and shape is the gravity of its legacy, the shadow of history cast upon its many surfaces. This is a place to celebrate and rediscover, but also a place with significant legacy, grit, sometimes even heaviness.
Although the project feels immediately decorative, it is, in fact, a collection of robust building materials faced in makeup. Brickwork, concrete, steel, all represented in color and high fidelity. Something in the metaphor of Priscillas restaurant is the ability for this rawness to never feel like a construction site, but instead a theatre of color, a visual outrage.
The upper-level pizzeria and bar is called Imperial UP and features an outdoor golden pizza oven, bar, and an indoor cocktail bar, private dining room, lounge, and seating. There is also a lower level nightclub and Australia’s first same-sex marriage Cathedral is due to open in 2019 on the rooftop.
The Imperial Hotel Erskineville is a beautiful, iconic, and welcoming hotel in the heart of the LGBTQIA+ community—if you plan to be in Sydney stay the night, or at the very least stop by for dinner and dancing at Pricillas!
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Client name: The Sydney Collective
Location: Erskineville, Sydney, Australia
Principal Architect: Jeremy Bull, Sophie Harris
Interior Design Team: Alexander &CO. – Larissa Raymond, Madison Faye, Lucy Forlico, Rouda Taouk
Photographer: Anson Smart
Editorial Stylist: Claire Delmar