Windsor Castle Hotel Melbourne
With its Staminade-green façade, pink elephant guardians, tiki courtyard and red velvet banquettes, the Windsor Castle may not look like an old school local – nor, in fact, like Windsor Castle. And true, on Sundays you’re more likely to find hot young things getting it on than old salts telling tales at the bar. But it ticks the boxes where it counts. Turn off Chapel Street and brave the disconcertingly dark side alley and you’ll be rewarded with an open fire, a soundtrack of rock, and carby counter meals that favour the Ps (pies, parmas, pizzas). Even at full service, the crew keeps their cool, dispensing a crisp pint of Fat Yak with steady, unruffled ease. The beer list is notably less shocking than the decor – Vale Ale by the bottle lends a crafty air to an offering of familiar Peronis and Cascade brews. Take yours and take your pick of eccentric spaces, each with its own complimentary energy. There’s a retro-futuristic dining room boasting small booths and intimacy. Outside, the tiki-style beer garden attracts a hot-and-handsy passion party on Sunday afternoons. The main bar, meanwhile, is narrow and decorated like a hunting lodge for the mentally disturbed: all antlers and taxidermy peacocks and bric-a-brac. It's a little creepy, and legend has it the place was once haunted. But don’t worry yourself – they had some professionals come in for a cleansing. They sweat the details like that here. That's why we come back.