Spot of colour on hotel landscape

The Ovolo Hotel, in Little Bourke Street, in the city, is built on the idea of "effortless living".

The Ovolo Hotel, in Little Bourke Street, in the city, is built on the idea of "effortless living".

With seven other Ovolo hotels, in Hong Kong, this latest offering was designed to allow visitors to grab a quick bite on the way out and explore what the city has to offer. "You literally pick up your breakfast as you leave," says Josh Noonan, the hotel's general manager.

"The idea isn't to stay in the hotel the entire time, although you are certainly welcome to," he says.

The brief, to design studio Hassell, was to convert 1980s suites into 43 swish rooms for the corporate and leisure markets.

While there is a foyer, with reception, you won't find some of the usual features of a traditional hotel. The reception area, for example, has a breakfast bar at one end, with bar stools.

There's also a bar at reception, offering coffee and croissants.

And, although not on the menu, there are silver-covered eggs, the hotel's logo, crawling up the walls and across the ceiling.

"We wanted to include Ovolo's branding, which has a strong presence in Asia," says Hassell principal and interior designer Susan Standring, who worked closely with interior designer Daniel Ballin.

"But we also wanted to give this hotel a recognisable context."

To achieve this local context, Hassell engaged local photographer Ashley Ng, who captured the graffiti in the city's laneways.

Ng's photos appear in the hotel rooms, from the studios to the two-bedroom suites and penthouse apartments. Others, set in lightboxes, illuminate the dark corridors.

To personalise each room, Hassell used punchy, vibrantly coloured doors for each suite; cobalt blue, yellow, vermilion and emerald green. "We referenced some of the terraces you find on the edge of the city, in places such as Fitzroy. There's usually at least one brightly coloured front door in each street," says Ballin.

As whimsical are the chaise lounges in the corridors, some of them covered with fake turf.

As the motto goes, effortless living is a feature in all rooms, from the $200-a-night studio to the "terrace apartment" on the top level, at about $600 a night.

The apartment, about 80 square metres, has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a generous kitchen. A large outdoor terrace leads from the living areas. One of the more unorthodox features of the terrace apartment is a punching bag in the corner of the kitchen, complete with boxing gloves - effortless?

Each room has a blackboard, on which guests can convey messages to staff and vice-versa. "The average stay is three nights, so guest need to feel as comfortable as home," Noonan says.

Designing hotel rooms, as opposed to rooms in one's own home, requires a different skill set.

Hotel rooms, due to constant turnover, need to be robust and capable of tolerating the impact of suitcases being dragged around.

And, at Ovolo Melbourne, there's room to entertain.

"You need to think about how materials will stand the test of time," Standring says.

"But with hotels, you also need to think about instant familiarity. People open the door and want to immediately know which light switch to flick and where everything is."

Each of the rooms has been identified with a name rather than a number. OMG is the name of the two-bedroom terrace apartment. When you see the punching bag suspended from the ceiling, they're the first words uttered.

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