Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge Melbourne review

Where doing time is now a pleasure.

When Pentridge in Melbourne was one of Australia’s most notorious prisons, TripAdvisor reviews by its hapless guests would have been decidedly unflattering. Inmates were desperate to escape, and some did, but today Pentridge has cast off the shackles of its murky past. The imposing, neo-Gothic bluestone walls of the former jail now frame the gleaming, 18-storey Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge Melbourne, a dramatic destination hotel like no other in Australia, where glowing online reviews today speak of a unique and luxurious resting place rich in history, indulgence and undeniable intrigue.

Traveller: Andrew Mevissen
Room:  Two-bedroom apartment on an upper floor with jail and city views
Address: 1 Pentridge Bvd, Coburg, Melbourne
Date: June 2023
Price range: $207 – $399 a night
Best for: A luxury stay in a stunning, mind-bending historical setting

exterior of  Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge
© Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Location of Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Nestled in the new-look, hip-fab suburb of Coburg in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, 8km north of the city or around half-way between the CBD and Melbourne Airport.  There are easy tram or train trips into town if you want city action but there’s a lot to captivate your attention at this amazing hotel, which is part of an impressive new $1 billion transformation of the former prison into a spectacular urban hub and lifestyle precinct that has to be seen to be believed.

Two-bedroom apartment © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

The room at Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Our lofty, very spacious, two-bedroom apartment is a veritable haven of comfort, with a luxe lounge, 55-inch LCD TV on which we watch the movie, ‘Chopper’ about the celebrity criminal’s time in Pentridge, dining space, plush beds, USB charging points, two bathrooms, luxuriant tub, fully equipped kitchen and laundry, espresso coffee machine, locally made chocolate, chips, wine and beer and sweeping, absorbing vistas from every room over the historic jail site and across Melbourne.  

Large white hotel bed
Second bedroom © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Claim to fame

From 1851 to 1997, Pentridge was Victoria’s main prison, housing a who’s who of Australia’s criminal world. From bushranger Ned Kelly and gangster Squizzy Taylor to celebrity mobster Chopper Read, and Ronald Ryan who murdered a prison officer during a failed escape from Pentridge and was subsequently hanged there in 1867 as the last person to be executed in Australia.

Pentridge was a despairing place of brutality, desperation, disconnection and solitary confinement but in May this year a complete reimagining of the former jail saw it emerge as a vibrant new entertainment, dining and hospitality centre set to become a cornerstone of connection and community in northern Melbourne. At its heart and rising high from the austere and infamous bluestone walls is the new, five-star, all-glass, 106-room Adina Pentridge, which has been deliberately designed to contrast and complement the 170-year-old heritage site-turned-modern-culture zone. 

The sympathetic redevelopment of the historic site – a seemingly incongruous but entirely effective juxtaposition of bleak heritage and contemporary cool – is one of the largest bluestone restoration projects ever undertaken in Australia and one of just 40 prison hotel conversions worldwide.

inside of a former prison at  Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge
Prison tours © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

The showstopper

Doing time as a guest at Pentridge today is a far cry from the grim incarceration inmates endured in the past, with the elegant, gourmet restaurant, North & Common, and the decadently moody wine bar, Olivine, sharing the site of the former B Division jail wing with the new Adina hotel. 

Many would be happy to be ensconced in these palate-pleasuring havens forever, with the key thrown away, but the primary drawcard would have to be the location itself – the pervasive, castle-like remnants of the monolithic former prison all around you, with confronting, must-do tours of the ghostly cells available daily. A night at an ordinary hotel is just that but a stay at the deluxe Adina Pentridge, inside the storied walls of a one-time prison, is an utterly unique experience offering a profound sense of place that will remain locked in your memory for a long time.

North & Common restaurant door
North & Common restaurant © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Staying in at Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

The austere, drab realm of Pentridge Prison is now a vibrant and beautiful lifestyle hub in newly gentrified Coburg. It’s a complete destination all on its own, with the Adina apartments and a striking, soon-to-open overnight wellness retreat called The Interlude nestled alongside the chic Olivine wine bar and the refined North & Common restaurant. Also within the bluestone walls you’ll find the bustling BrewDog Pentridge craft brewery, a Palace Cinema complex, peaceful gardens for ponderance, historical markers, art galleries showcasing the story of Pentridge, a National Trust centre for tours of the old jail and even a shopping centre and IGA supermarket for handy supplies during your stay. 

North & Common restaurant at Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge
North & Common restaurant © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Olivine Wine Bar

Former prison cells have been transformed into a swish and agreeably unconventional bar perfect for pre-dinner drinks. Cosy, dimly lit booths partitioned by velvet curtains complement the exceptional selection of wines and spirits available. Instead of a menu, celebrated sommelier and wine curator, Liinaa Berry, offers guests  a ‘Book of Wine’ showcasing hundreds of rare and cult wines, craft cocktails and premium spirits. We graze on rock oysters with peach mignonette dressing, house-made chicken liver parfait with muscat and brown butter tuile and Japanese scallop tarts with a yuzu emulsion, all enjoyed with fine, seductively smooth Japanese whisky and a sultry shiraz.  

Olivine wine bar at  Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge
Olivine Wine Bar © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

North & Common

The sophistication in wining and dining seamlessly segues into the neighbouring restaurant. Once a jail mess hall, the airy space is now a refined and elegant dining room flaunting an innovative, produce-driven menu brimming with flavour, providence and quality. The elevated culinary offering boasts bold, seasonal dishes from which I enjoy citrus cured cobia, spanner crab risoni and salted cashew praline with banana and coconut. All paired with Victorian wines.

chef holding a plate with food on it
Black Barley, Chestnut and Thyme, Pine Mushroom at North & Common © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Brewdog Pentridge

The former muster yards of Pentridge now host a sprawling craft brewery which spreads indoors, outdoors and upwards, offering this re-engineered neighbourhood a spirit of connection and repose so lacking in the location’s former guise over 146 years. Former inmates would have salivated over the vast bill of fare spanning a kaleidoscope of boutique ales and cocktails as well as mountainous burgers, loaded fries, spicy chicken wings, mouth-melting pizzas and enough choice to satisfy the most dedicated vegans and vegetarians. A visit to the brewery is perfect after a sobering tour of the former prison cells next door. 

 Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge recepion
Reception © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Pentridge Prison Tours

Don’t check out of Adina Pentridge without joining one of the new, daily tours of the heritage-listed prison. Run by the National Trust of Victoria, the immersive and interactive tours of H (nicknamed ‘Hell’) and B Divisions, shine a light on the jail’s darkest and deepest secrets. The explorations of the gloomy cells and stone-breaking pens are confronting but gripping, with multimedia presentations and hauntingly recreated audio telling stories from the prisoners who met their fate here. 

wine curator liinaa berry
Liinaa Berry © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Stepping out     

The city is just 8km away and accessible by tram or train but there’s lots to experience at the new lifestyle hub. Guests have free access to a local gym and public swimming pools are close by, too. The hotel also provides complimentary bikes for leisurely rides along the Merri Creek Trail and to Coburg Lake Reserve  

Before booking at Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

Request a high floor room overlooking the jail below. It’s not often you can experience a view of the world from within prison walls. And make advance reservations for Olivine wine bar and the North & Common restaurant.

tart with yuzu emulsion and tomato
Tart with yuzu emulsion, tomato and sake © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

If only     

If only inmates could have experienced just a semblance of the luxuries now on site including the Adina, wine bar, restaurant, brewery, supermarket, cinema and art galleries. And if only I could have experienced The Interlude, which will soon open adjacent to the Adina Pentridge. To be unveiled in coming months by Adina operators, TFE Hotels, the indulgent, 19-suite ‘experience-led urban retreat’ will see guests staying in lavishly transformed prison cells with exclusive access to an underground, candlelit relaxation pool as well as storytelling canapes in the former exercise yards, artisan tea tastings and curated wine sojourns.

person holding wine bottle in a wine cellar
Olivine wine curator Liinaa Berry © Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge

V&T expert eating     

9 out of 10

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