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From Railway to Pokemon stop. The 100 year history of Unity Hall.

Since laying of the foundation stone on 29 august 1916 until its 100th year Unity Hall has been an important meeting place and opened many opportunities for countless Melbournians and those recently arrived in Melbourne.

As the home of the Australian Railways Union and the Victorian Tramways Union the meeting hall and offices provided a focal point for socialising with dances and movies staged in the hall as well as during the 1950s as a place for newly arrived skilled railway workers to improve their English language skills.

Today the building is still an important meeting and resting place that serves as an introduction point for international visitors since its conversion during 2006 into the multi award winning Alto Hotel on Bourke.

In keeping with our ever changing world the location is the epitome of the current tech world as a Poke Stop for the now ubiquitous global online game. Lending the location to another aspect of meeting by brining Pokemon hunters together.

While some things change, some remain the same with much of the original external visual appeal of the building remaining intact. Although by todays standards, a low rise building of 4 storeys the charm of the Art Nouveau styled lead light windows and terrazzo flooring in the entrance lobby floor are still in use today. Serving as a small reminder of the architects Neo Baroque design intentions.

Posted on 29 Aug 2016 14:44:07


Last Monday night, the Victorian Tourism Industry came together for the RACV Victorian Tourism Awards at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre. With 30+ coveted awards up for grabs, the team from the Alto Hotel won the finalist award for Deluxe Accommodation. This follows on from a number of other awards in previous years where Alto Hotel was inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame in 2011.

The deluxe category covers 4 and 4 ½ star hotels across Victoria “We are humbled to have become a finalist in the Victorian Tourism Awards this year, the competition was extremely strong with Melbourne having so many wonderful hotels” says Heather English, Director Alto Hotel on Bourke.

To keep ahead of guests expectations, significant works have been completed in 2014. Guests can now keep in touch with ease, using the free WiFi. Be entertained with 120+ channels of Foxtel IQ on LED high definition televisions and record their must-see shows to watch when you want or connect via HDMI or wireless from your device to play your own music, movies & images.

Our new beds are the latest in design and comfort with deep pillow top mattress ensuring you'll wake rested and refreshed. Our windows can be opened and are of extra thickness to keep the big-city noises outside while you are in quiet comfort inside.

Its our guests that make this possible, a big shout out to you all! #RACVVTA #ALTOHOTEL #MELBOURNE #inbetweenmelb @cityofmelbourne

Posted on 05 Nov 2014 14:55:54

Aspects of Melbourne - September 2014

AFL fans are always welcome in the birthplace of Australian Rules. Yet there is a lot more to Melbourne in Spring. Strolling the Botanical or one of the 9 major gardens in the inner city area is a great way to reflect and recharge.

Victor Hugo Page to Stage Exhibition is a must see, especially for Les Misérables fans. For the first time outside of Europe (and rarely seen even in France) the original handwritten manuscript of the masterpiece that inspired the musical will be on display until 9th November

Stunning sunrises are a treat especially if taking a balloon journey over the city.

More inspirations for a Melbourne escape as well as some helpful travel news and hints visit the website as listed below.


Posted on 08 Sep 2014 15:48:10

Look out for falling Drop Bears - Brave Bears to Hospitalised Children

Alto takes team building & Royal Children’s Hospital fundraising to greater heights

Some team members, family and friends of the Alto Hotel are undertaking one of the bravest challenges; skydiving out of a perfectly good plane 10,000ft above the ground and it’s all for charity! ‘Canopies for Kids’ is one of the first events in Australia to run in conjunction with Commando Skydivers to raise money for charity through skydiving. ‘Canopies for Kids’ will be raising money for the Royal Children’s Hospital on Good Friday 18th April as part of the Good Friday appeal.

Our team is looking to raise much needed funds for this worthy cause, risking life and limb and all we are asking of you is to assist with donations. Donate here

Norman (Director), Gary (General Manager), John and Nick (friends and family), have bravely put their hands up to participate in a tandem skydive, whilst Gemma (Guest Services) an active member of Commando Skydivers will be jumping solo! It is a team bonding session like no other! All jumpers will have a “trained” teddy bear strapped to them when they jump. The courage taken from the jumper will fill the bear with bravery and the bear will then be passed onto the sick children at the Royal Children’s hospital, along with a heartfelt message. This will help give the kids the courage and bravery they need to fight their everyday battles.

If you would like to see our team being pushed out....I mean jump out of a perfectly good plane, we would love it if you would sponsor us! Any amount goes a long way, and any donation over $2 is tax deductible! Pledges can be made through this link: http://fundraise.goodfridayappeal.com.au/canopies_for_kids (Team Member: Alto Hotel on Bourke _ last on list of team members). If you are in the Tooradin area on the Friday 18th April, please feel free to drop by, it is going to be fantastic event! All jumps will take place at Tooradin Airfield, roughly 1 hour east of Melbourne.

Posted on 15 Apr 2014 18:35:18

In the news - Weekend Notes February 2014

If you're looking for a comfortable, welcoming hotel handy to Melbourne's CBD, reasonably priced and with a range of free extras, then Alto on Bourke might be the one for you.

In Spring 2013, I took my two sons (aged 9 and 11) to Melbourne for a school holiday treat. It was just us three, and I didn't want to hire a car, so I was seeking a location where we could easily walk to a range of child-friendly attractions and travel to visit friends and relatives in various directions. After much Googling, I settled on the Alto and it proved a good choice.

The Alto is a boutique hotel in a refurbished heritage building that once housed a railway union. It has a charming 1930s brick façade but an interior that is contemporary, comfortable and stylish. It offers heaps of free extras and is proudly eco-friendly -- but more of that later.

Read more. http://www.weekendnotes.com/alto-hotel-on-bourke/

Posted on 21 Feb 2014 13:12:59

Matt Irwin Photography featured at Alto Hotel

Back when Alto first opened in 2005, we looked for a local artist to capture the spirit of Melbourne.

As a new hotel our walls were a blank canvas waiting to be brought to life.
One artist came to mind, that artist is Matt Irwin. When he was just 18 years of age Matt Irwin was struck with an idea – to photograph Melbourne in all its shades and moods, at street level, telling everyday stories on a human scale as no photographer had done before him.

For over 24 years, Matt's artistic endeavour has created a canon of work that is enjoyed by local Melburnians who are proud of their city as well as interstate and international visitors who take home his work as cards, calendars, books and original prints.

We have a huge portfolio of Matt's works throughout the hotel, often when you stay with us you will see different images in different rooms.

Matt was the first photographer to truly capture the laneways of Melbourne, celebrating a unique aspect of the city long before it became popular or groovy. Matt's work adorns buildings and homes throughout the world, enabling each viewer to share their passion for our city and reconnect with Melbourne over and over again.
For more about Matt Irwin visit www.mattirwin.com

Posted on 25 Nov 2013 17:58:55

120+ channels of Foxtel IQ

First Melbourne hotel to offer guests full range of 120+ Foxtel channels, option to wireless stream content from smart phone or tablet to large LED HD televisions plus access video content direct from the internet to their TV screen.

The first hotel in Melbourne to offer all its guests 112 Foxtel channels plus all Freeview channels has seen Alto Hotel increase guest entertainment options to an unprecedented level. The Foxtel Platinum Package is included at no charge on all Samsung Smart LED HD TV’s in every room. Offering a wide range of viewing options in digital clarity with multiple High Definition channels guest have a wide choice of movies, drama shows, comedy shows, news and more. Using the Foxtel IQ system guests can even record and watch what they want when they want.

Having control of when and what to watch in enhanced as guest can connect any HDMI or USB device such as tablets or laptops and play video, music or image files on the 42inch energy efficient High Definition LED Televisions. The range of viewing options will increase further as stage 2 of the installation is completed by October 2013. Stage 2 will allow guests to wireless stream video, music and images from their smart phone, tablet or laptop to their in-room LED TV. Plus access You Tube, iView and other video content from websites via Apps & Widgets loaded on the Samsung Smart TV.

Posted on 15 Nov 2013 19:01:15

Great green stays around Victoria

Some great green stays around Victoria. Alto is proud to have some regional friends offering visitors to Victoria green accommodation options and activities.

For more information:

Posted on 02 Jul 2013 16:29:01

Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal

This weekend is the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, a time when Australians unite to support this valuable cause and make a donation to ensure the work of the Salvation Army continues.

With the recent upgrades to our rooms with new decors and our amazing Alto Indulgence bed we have been able to donate 150 warm blankets to the Salvos to be used in one of their crisis accommodation centres.

For more information on the Salvos and to donate visit http://salvos.org.au/about-us/red-shield-appeal/

Posted on 24 May 2013 10:07:02

Sparky the electric car - an Australian first

Alto is very proud to be the first hotel in Australia to offer its guests use of a electric vehicle to zip around town. A forward thinking hotel in the USA were the first in the world to offer an electic car for guests.

In conjunction with GoGet share car guests can be registered and driving within minutes. Not only are you saving the environment by not having any fuel emissions (Sparky is recharged at Alto from 100% renewable energy) you are saving money as you only pay for the time you use, unlike a hire car where you have to pay for the full day.

Registration kits available at reception and once you are registered you can also access 100's of other GoGet share cars around Australia.

Full day package including tolls, fuel and insurance from $79 a day (plus initial membership $25 when signing up with the hotels discount code.

Registration is simple - GoGet kit from hotel reception, license, credit card and 10 minutes to register & book your car via phone and then you are ready to drive away.

Posted on 13 Dec 2012 18:15:23

30,000 new guests checked in!

We are very pleased to welcome 30,000 new long term guests with the arrival of our second colony of bees for our rooftop hive program.

The hives are monitored an maintained by the wonderful team at Melbourne Rooftop Honey. The produce from our hives and other inner city locations can be bought online at www.rooftophoney.com.au

We feel privilaged to be able to assist in protecting the biodiversty of our wonderful landscape and help protect the honey bee polulation by providing agood home close to many gardens and parks. An added benefit is the increased flora activity the bees will provide to city dwellers balcony and rooftop gardens.

Come and sample some rooftop honey available on our breakfast buffet when staying with us.

Posted on 11 Mar 2012 13:11:56

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival turns 20!

Celebrate all things culinary at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival this year as it celebrates its 20th birthday with a host of gastronomic extravaganzas. Boasting more than 300 events across Melbourne and Victoria, there is something for every gourmand including 80 events under $50.

Visitors can share in Melbourne’s obsession with food and wine with over 20 days of eating and drinking, comprising gastronomic delights from one-off dinners, whirlwind tours and crawls to hands-on learning, regional adventures and riverside parties.

The Festival kicks off with the brand new Riverside Opening Weekend on 3-4 March when the Yarra River transforms into a food and wine lover’s paradise. There’ll be plenty of activity including the Cellar Door & Farmgate at South Wharf, which will bring together craft brewers, artisan products and boutique cellar doors complemented by restaurants and bars along the promenade once the sun goes down.

Victorian accommodation update

A firm Festival favourite, the IGA World’s Longest Lunch will snake itself along the banks of the Yarra River on Friday 2 March inviting guests to enjoy a three course seasonal feast under the tree line of Alexandra Park. Designed by hatted regional star chefs Patrizia Simone (Simone’s of Bright), Annie Smithers (Annie Smithers Bistrot, Kyneton) and George Biron (Sunnybrae, Birregurra), each course will be matched by the finest drops from Yering Station. Complementing all this feasting will be 29 Regional World’s Longest Lunches taking place across Victoria.

The Langham Melbourne Masterclass stage will be a hive of activity with world-class culinary whizzes over the weekend of 10 and 11 March including world number one chef Rene Redzepi (Noma, Copenhagen), three star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Italy) and Claus Henriksen (Dragsholm, Horve), who will each provide inspiration and insights into their clever creations.

And for those keen to get their hands dirty, there are plenty of hands-on cooking classes to get involved in from making macaroons and passata to learning the art of porchetta.

Further afield, North East Victoria plays host to the Tastes of Rutherglen festival, which begins with a regional showcase dinner on 10 March highlighting the best produce from across the region. Visitors to the region over the following two weekends can continue to enjoy perfectly matched food and wine combined with culinary experiences and activities at participating venues.

Posted on 30 Jan 2012 11:14:28

Salua Orphanage and other Kindergartens

Alto Hotel on Bourke – our community programs:-

Many of us at Alto Hotel have an association with East Timor; over the years we have concentrated on educational and child/family, welfare projects. We do this through our membership of the Balibo Flag House Trust and Rotary Club of Port Melbourne. We are represented on the boards of both these organizations and in the past 12 months we have contributed to a number of different projects.

Salua Orphanage and other Kindergartens - Rotary Club of Port Melbourne

The Salua Orphanage is a project of the Rotary Club of Balwyn, which, with help of other Rotarians and donations from Australian companies are refurbishing a building and fitting it out for the Dominican Sisters to run as an orphanage for 85 children, in the village of Salua in central Timor Leste. Sister Marylou and fellow Sisters, builders and Rotarians are all racing against the clock to get it all ready for the children to move in before Christmas. This is a good story and fits exactly where we like to get involved; with the help of other hoteliers like Rufus Pereira from Mantra Hotels and Jenny Kerr from Birches Serviced Apartments, we contacted our suppliers, Konghwa Laundry, Princes Laundry and South Pacific Laundry who have all generously donated to the cause. Within days we had collected 250 single sheets, 200 pillow cases, 250 towels and some 2000 tea towels! What to do with 2000 tea towels?? Never mind, we are sure Sister Marylou will barter them for some other useful items. There were also 170 picture frames which will be put to good use, with a photograph of each child adorning the walls and corridors at the children’s new home.

This is not the only Rotary project which has been lead by Alto Hotel. Over the last 4 years we have contributed with 5 toilet blocks; 2 for Sister Dunalva’s kindergartens on Atauro Island, 2 at the Tais Market in Dili and 1 at the Lequerachabu’u School in Macalaco Suku, in the Baucau district.


Posted on 30 Nov 2011 11:40:08

Balibo Kindergarten - A Community Project

Many of us at Alto Hotel have an association with East Timor; over the years we have concentrated on educational and child/family, welfare projects. We do this through our membership of the Balibo Flag House Trust and Rotary Club of Port Melbourne. We are represented on the boards of both these organizations and in the past 12 months we have contributed to a number of different projects.

Balibo Kindergarten – The Balibo Flag House Trust,
The kindergarten currently looks after 40 children with the help of 1 kindergarten teacher and one teacher’s assistant.
Alto Hotel contributes to the kindergarten directly by paying half the assistant teacher’s wage and indirectly by contributing financially to the Trust’s many other Balibo Community activities including:-
o Administration and financing of the Flag House memorial to the Balibo Five, (the 5 Australian based journalists who died at the hands of the invading Indonesian troop at the beginning of the East Timor invasion, in 1975).
-Management of the Community Learning Centre, which is an adult participation centre, training residents in carpentry, computers, sewing and mechanics.
-Management of the kindergarten.
-Managing the redevelopment of the Balibo Portuguese Fort, into a community ‘Visitor Accommodation Centre’

Alto Hotel does not contribute only financially, we are actively involved with the design and construction of the buildings and assisting the Trust generally, including frequent visits to East Timor.

Posted on 30 Nov 2011 11:36:13

Alto rated 6 stars !

Alto has become the first hotel in Australia to be rated as 6 stars for energy efficiency under the revised NABERS program. The programs highest rating was increased from 5 to 6 stars to help recognise market leading performance of some buildings efficiency.

NABERS (the National Australian Built Environment Rating System) is a performance-based rating system for existing buildings. NABERS rates a commercial office, hotel or residential building on the basis of its measured operational impacts on the environment. For mre detaisl on NABERS see www.nabers.com.au

Posted on 13 Oct 2011 12:59:32

Our Carbon Offset - 100%

The Carbon Reduction Institute, our Green House Gas Auditors, have confirmed that Alto Hotel has offset 792.73 tons of Green House Gas in the last 24 months = equivalent to 100% of our total Carbon Footprint!

The offsets are equal to Savings of;
329,333 litres of fuel, enough to drive a 4 cylinder car for 4,391,100 kms. Since the average car is driven 15,300 kms per year, this equivalent to taking 287 cars off the road!

Not bad for a small business with just 24 staff members

Posted on 30 Aug 2011 18:33:33

Tour de Melbourne

Free helmet loan to use with 30+ Melbourne Bike Share Stations around the city - You don’t have to be as good as Cadel Evans, however wearing yellow is a good idea

Guests at Melbourne’s premier sustainable hotel can easily enjoy the cities world recognised title as Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Bike City, making it only the second Bike City in the world after Copenhagen.

Local laws require all bike riders to wear an approved cycling helmet, yet a cycling helmet is not usually on the packing list for a trip to Melbourne, so the smart team at Alto Hotel have a range of helmet to loan to hotel guests.

Alto’s guests can enjoy the many lanes, paths and cycling areas of Melbourne when using a bike from one of Melbourne 30+ Bike Share stations. There are 2 stations within 100 meters of the hotel.

An entire day’s fun and a gentle exercise while you roll around the city is one of the lowest cost options available in the city. Dock you bike at any of the 30+ bike stations each 30 minutes and all you pay for the day of fun is $2.50

“While we have had the helmets available for over a year we are seeing an increase in use since the start of the Tour de France and more so since Cadel won the yellow jersey” said Gary Stickland General Manger of Alto Hotel.

With the Yarra River and its bike trails close by the hotels central city location quickly gives way to river vistas, parks and open spaces. Take a ride to Lygon Street and enjoy a coffee and cake at Brunetti or stop on Lonsdale Street for some Baklava or other delicious Greek pastry and you get a little taste of being in Europe while still being in inner Melbourne.

For more details on Melbourne Bike Share - www.melbournebikeshare.com.au

Posted on 02 Aug 2011 10:48:14

World Environment Day and International Year of the Forests

Alto Hotel staff, family and friends joined Greenfleet to celebrate World Environment Day and International Year of the Forests last Sunday by helping to plant 3300 native trees. Ultimately these trees with form a forest that not only takes carbon pollution out of the atmosphere, provides cleaner air to the community, but also assists in the improvement of water quality entering the Cardinia Creek and Western Port Bay and provides habitat for the native animals and birds of the region.

Despite the cold weather, it was a very enjoyable day – finishing off with cup cakes all round

See our pictures from the day at www.facebook.com/altohotel

Posted on 09 Jun 2011 11:12:17

As seen on Mornings with Kerri-Anne

Those with a keen eye may have seen the Alto Hotel mentioned in a story shown on the Mornings with Kerri-Anne television show this morning. The segment was about the city bees program being run by Melbourne Rooftop Honey using the hotel and our 2 rooftop hives as an example of how increasing the bee population in central Melbourne will benefit the wider community.

Posted on 10 May 2011 13:46:20

The worlds only electric sports car checks in at Alto

We think we are fast and efficient at the Alto Hotel front desk yet we could not keep pace with a recent guest. The Tesla Roadster fully electric vehicle plugged into the Alto Hotel recharge station for a second time following its first stay with us in March 2011.

The low and sleek sports car changes perceptions of an EV being a slow city commuter. It certainly turned some heads while parked at the front of the hotel.

While the batteries can store enough power for just under 400km of driving is can also excite with acceleration and performance moving from standing to 100km per hour in 4 seconds. After a test drive "exhilarating" is just one of the words uttered by Gary Stickland, General Manager. “Finally a good reason to have a mid life crisis & not feel guilty” he also said.

The future of being kind to our environment can also be stylish without needing to compromise. Like the Tesla , Alto Hotel strives to offer all you usually expect yet do so with a low environmental footprint. Perhaps we can “have our cake and eat it too”.
For more details on Tesla see - www.teslamotors.com/australia

Posted on 27 Apr 2011 14:48:49

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