Art & Design


The Weird & Wonderful Woodlands

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Melbourne pubs seem to be caught in an interior design pissing contest at the moment. It’s not enough to serve cold beer and have a parma special anymore, pubs are becoming theatre.

Recently LuWow took us to the South Pacific and The Bottom End showed us how one man’s love of tits can influence the entire feng shui of a venue. Now The Woodlands Hotel, which opened last weekend, takes the what the fuck? factor one step further.

From the outside, The Woodlands looks much like the old man pub it used to be. Yet through those unassuming doors lies one the most adventurous, what-were-they-taking-and-where-can-I-get-some revamps in Melbourne.

The man behind the madness is the artist Blokk, who’s been building bars including The Carlton for the past 20 years. The Woodlands redux is made up of three different spaces that are pretty much different universes: the front bar, the upstairs lounge and the beer hall which are only linked by their lack of motif, randomness and a corridor.

First stop at the front bar is the tamest, a modest entrance guarded by stone eagles, decorated with model biplanes flying amid scallop light fittings and a vintage movie projector.

Then there’s the bar, lined with bottles and bottle of craft beer. That’s where you’ll notice the other unique feature at The Woodlands: there’s no CUB on tap. Yup, just Victorian microbrews, plus the wine list is entirely from the garden state. Grab a drink and go for a wander.

Going deeper into The Woodlands the world gets weirder as face masks line the walls, Buddha’s peer around corners and Blokk’s larger-than-life artworks adorn the upstairs lounge.

The space takes a little time to sink in. There’s velvet everywhere, a few thrones with wings and ringing the room are giant nutcracker guards. Everything’s warped and off kilter, like a bizaaro take on a 1920’s cocktail lounge where after a few brewksies you’d half expect a dwarf to saunter out and announce gum’s coming back in style. I likes it.

Taking a turn outside reveals the final (and my favourite space) the beer hall. A massive inside/outside space with indoor trees, huge tables, faded signage it kinda feels like a cross between a dining room in Valhalla and an Oktoberfest beer hall. Massive windows open to let that light shine in, providing a perfectly amicable place to work my way through that impressive microbrew list. Alas, my crappy photos don’t do it justice.

Is The Woodlands a fancy pub or a gallery with a liquor license? Either way, it’s an experience.

The Woodlands Hotel
84 – 88 Sydney Road, Coburg
9384 1122
Mon to Thurs 4pm – 11pm
Fri to Sun 12pm – 11pm


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