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Converted prison: Australia’s most unique urban wellness retreat now open

A first look at The Interlude: Now officially open in Pentridge Melbourne giving new meaning to the word transformation! 

Melbourne just became home to Australia’s most unique urban retreat, The Interlude has officially opened its doors and welcomed its first official guest – former HM Prison Pentridge Senior Prison Officer, Dennis Bear.

The Interlude, in Pentridge’s billion-dollar lifestyle precinct, is the world’s first urban wellness retreat set in a converted prison.

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Many might know this hotel from its former life as B Division at the HM Prison Pentridge, once home to some of Australia’s most infamous inmates including bushranger Ned Kelly and, more recently, Australia’s last bushranger, the After Dark bandit, Doug Morgan.

The Interlude, worlds first urban wellness retreat in a converted prison

Today, the site looks very different…

The centrepiece of The Interlude is an extraordinary subterranean swimming pool. The pool took three months to dig through sold bluestone and basalt to build, as stacked boulders were individually marked and removed by conveyer belt to minimise the impact on the historic structure.

The Interlude truly is a feat of engineering, the likes of which hasn’t been seen before in Australia.

The restoration crew had no blueprints to work off and needed to reverse engineer many aspects of the project, such as the air conditioning being under the beds instead of the ceilings because of rocks in the roof to prevent inmate escapes.

The 19 suites which make up The Interlude, have been created by knocking through the thick bluestone walls to link four or five cells together. Given the thickness of the walls, it took some nine months to create just one suite. Each has vaulted ceilings, and stone walls but with contemporary finishes and fittings that you would expect to see in a modern hotel.

The opening of The Interlude is another sign of Melbourne and Victoria’s post-pandemic tourism revival. Recent hotel openings have boosted the city’s room numbers by more than 900. The focus now though is not just on offering visitors a bed, but rather an experience.

At The Interlude guests don’t just purchase a room but are offered curated itineraries focussing on North Melbourne’s thriving food and wine, history, and cultural scenes in partnership with local producers and businesses.

The land on which Pentridge was built was a sacred area for the Wurundjeri (Wuh·ruhn·juh·Ree) people. A traditional gathering place and source of water, plants, and animals. The transformation now coming full circle, with a local Wurundjeri Elder Bill Nicholson performing a Welcome to Country and ceremonial cleansing of the entire site before it officially begins this new chapter of its diverse history.

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