TFE Hotels unveils transformation of cells to suites in major prison project

by Ruth Hogan

TFE Hotels is writing its name into the history books of Melbourne’s 172-year-old Pentridge Prison with the opening this week of a world-first urban wellness retreat on the site.

The boutique offering, known as The Interlude, features 19 suites created by converting and connecting old prison cells from the former B Division, which was once home to infamous inmates such as bushranger Ned Kelly and the ‘After Dark bandit’, Doug Morgan.

Former HM Prison Pentridge Senior Prison Officer, Dennis Bear, was welcomed as the first official guest to stay at The Interlude on Tuesday, July 11.

Owned and developed by Shayher Group and operated by TFE Hotels, The Interlude, joins Pentridge’s billion-dollar lifestyle precinct which includes the 106-key Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge, North and Common restaurant, Olivine wine bar, and Chapter Place events venue.

With no blueprints to work from, extreme care and plenty of time was taken to transform the historic building into a ‘one-of-a-kind’ accommodation offering.

Each suite – which involved knocking the thick bluestone walls of four to five prison cells – took around nine months to create, while a dimly-lit subterranean swimming pool took three months to dig out.

While vaulted ceilings and old stone walls remain, the suites are decked out with contemporary furnishings, finishes and modern necessities, such as air conditioning – which had to be installed under the beds instead of the rock ceilings, which were originally designed to prevent inmate escapes.

The Interlude has partnered with local producers and businesses include chocolatier Koko Black, tea retailer Impala and Peacock (tea) and urban winery Jamsheed, to offer curated experiences as part of the guest stay, allowing visitors to make the most of the food, wine, and cultural on offer in the area.