Billed as a ‘neighbourhood hotel’, the magic of Paramount House Hotel is that it actually has a personality. Yes, it’s small (29 rooms), and yes, it’s beautifully designed (thankyou Breathe Architecture). But beyond these factors, there is something truly unique about this place. Especially if, like us, you’re passionate about Australian design, art and homewares.
The line-up of collaborators here reads like a who’s who of Australian design. Beyond the actual building design, the identity and branding (including logos, room key cards, all sort of paper collateral, merch and bag tags) is by The Company you Keep, there’s Melbourne-made furniture by Jardan, delightfully wonky handcrafted ceramics in each room by Commons, lush indoor greenery throughout by Pop Plant, AMAZING native blackbutt Japanese-style soaking tubs by Tasmania’s Wood and Water, art curated by Surry Hills gallery China Heights (including work by local artists including Brooklyn Whelan, Max Berry, Marty Baptiste, Jesse Lizotte and more), illustrations and murals by Sydney design team We Buy Your Kids, ‘vide poche’ accessories by Sydney designer Henry Wilson, exquisitely scrunchy bedlinen by Cultiver in gorgeous dusty pink and blue palettes, Seljak‘s recycled merino wool blankets made in Tasmania (out of offcuts from the factory floor), and SUPER cute staff uniforms and dressing gowns by Worktones. NO DETAIL has been overlooked, people.
I know what you’re thinking; How does a hotel like this actually happen? SURELY it would be cheaper and easier to furnish a hotel with mass-produced furniture, generic white bedlinen, and dishwasher-proof coffee cups? YES. It would. So, how does a concept like this get off the ground, and who is behind it? Funnily enough… it all started with coffee.
The hotel’s founders and owners are Russell Beard, Ping Jin Ng and Mark Dundon.
Ping Jin Ng owns the building, while Russell and Mark both come from backgrounds in coffee and hospitality – Mark is the founder of Melbourne coffee brand Seven Seeds, and Russell owns Reuben Hills cafe in Sydney. Together, the trio owns and operates Paramount Coffee Project, Bondi Hall in Sydney, and PCPLA in Los Angeles.
It really all started with Paramount House, though. Built in 1940, this is one of Sydney’s iconic heritage-listed buildings. Its recent restoration and the curation of carefully selected creative tenants has become more than just a business opportunity for building owner Jin, it has very much evolved into a personal passion project.
Russell, Jin and Mark opened their first joint venture, Paramount Coffee Project, a now-bustling breakfast and lunch spot in the foyer of the building, in 2013. Today there’s also Goldenage Cinema and Bar, ‘The Office Space‘ (the most beautiful co-working space we’ve ever seen), Paramount Recreation Club, and Poly, a soon-to-be-opened basement restaurant, from the team behind much-loved Chippendale eatery, Ester. Every business here has been personally selected by Jin, creating a building with its own very distinct creative community.
The development of the hotel started around four years ago. As Mark explains, ‘We had the café working quite well, it was a bit of a way-out concept at the beginning, you know, a cafe in a foyer… but Jin trusted us, and it pulled the building together. Then one day he just said to us, ‘What else do you guys want to do?’. Four months later, Jin had bought the adjoining building. It was time to build a hotel.
Despite being seasoned hospitality operators, developing a hotel concept was new territory for Mark and Russell. Approaching the project with a sort of ‘rookie’ mindset, though, is part of what has made Paramount House Hotel so special. ‘Russell and I both travel a lot for sourcing coffee, and I suppose our ideas just came from thinking about what we would like to see in a hotel ourselves,’ says Mark. This is a business built on notions of what a hotel could be, with no real precedent to adhere to. Mark describes how the trio was keen for it to feel understated and pared back. ‘We wanted to get a bit of warmth into the place’ he recalls.
Another defining feature of the hotel is a private outdoor space adjoining every room. ‘We always thought it would be great to have an outdoor space, you know, when you rock in after a long flight and you can sit outside and just take in a little bit of the city?’ says Mark, ‘so many hotels are so sealed in.’
Like every great creative project, the making of Paramount House Hotel has been a massive undertaking, and a collaborative process from beginning to end. ‘I’ve really enjoyed the experience of doing it,’ reflects Mark. ‘At the end of the day, it’s just like welcoming someone into your house. Whether you’re serving them a meal or coffee, or putting them up for the night… It’s about creating an environment that brings people together, and that’s very rewarding.’
Paramount House Hotel
80 Commonwealth Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Lucy stayed as a guest of Paramount House Hotel.
The Paramount House Hotel in Sydney, designed by Breathe Architecture, features a distinctive copper-clad exterior. Photo – Tom Ross.
The atrium-style hotel foyer blends heritage with new. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.
The 29-room hotel is housed within an industrial building which adjoins the original heritage-listed Paramount building. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.
Hotel foyer. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.
Hotel foyer. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.
The hotel seamlessly integrates contemporary interiors with heritage details. Photo – Tom Ross.
Indoor greenery throughout by Pop Plant, Photo – Tom Ross.
The rooms feature bedlinen by Cultiver, Seljak‘s recycled merino wool blankets. Photo – Tom Ross.
The hotel’s co-founders were keen to incorporate private outdoor space adjoining every room. Photo – Tom Ross.
Bedlinen by Cultiver, and recycled merino wool blankets by Seljak. Photo – Tom Ross.
Bespoke cabinetry, terrazzo tiles and Aesop amenities – yes please! Photo – Tom Ross.
Native blackbutt Japanese-style soaking tub by Tasmania’s Wood and Water. Photo – Tom Ross.