Before its closure for renovation (advanced by confinement), the Lyall Hotel & Spa in Melbourne had a special guest among its regulars. The private South Yarra boutique, which opened in 2002, was frequented by Olivia Newton-John, who became good friends with owners Rowina and Peter Thomas.
“It was his house,” says Rowina Thomas. “Because my husband and I are at the hotel and it’s very personal, not a chain type operation, we were able to get some attention and shake things up for her. For example, when 60 minutes phoned and said, ‘We want to come in and interview him this afternoon, we just made it happen.’
A memory Thomas will treasure was being hosted by Newton-John in his top-floor suite ‘with tea and scones and pretending we were English’ as they watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding on the television.
It’s the kind of place the Lyall is: a base for outsiders (Mornington Peninsula residents are also regulars), a low-key hideaway for celebrities like the late Newton-John, and a Authentic slice of South Yarra life for visitors looking for something a little different.
Now, with a full refurbishment, they, and the new friends Lyall is bound to make, will revel in understated luxury with bespoke Thomas-designed furniture and soft luxury touches courtesy of Warwick Fabrics , the Warwick family. being friends of the owners.
As the Lyall reopens to guests on September 1, Thomas hopes non-hotel guests will come and enjoy the expanded bar and restaurant on the ground floor.
“Australians don’t use hotel bars and restaurants as much as they do in Europe,” says Thomas. But she says the nearby section of Toorak Road is enjoying a resurgence and South Yarra remains one of Melbourne’s most stylish neighborhoods, not to mention the revitalized property being “Melbourne’s finest hotel and probably Melbourne’s finest city hotel.” ‘Australia’ as Thomas proudly puts it, perhaps Lyall’s al fresco tables will be in order this summer. And a perfect place to toast Livvy.