You know that song “Hotel California”? It begins… Welcome to the Hotel California, it’s a lonely place. Every time I step in to the Alabama, I hear that song in my head. But it’s not a lonely place! It’s just got that retro, laid-back feel that belongs to another era.
I was introduced to the Alabama by Maxie, the gorgeous young daughter of a long time friend of mine from the Sunshine Coast. Maxie had just finished at the French Culinary Institute in New York, and was keen to work in Hobart. She loves Hobart with its artistic sensibility and cool, cool places that fly under the radar.
It wasn’t long before she discovered the Alabama, and dragged me there to share cocktails and laughs on a summer night. Maxie is young, but has her own arty way of looking at the world, and is the best networker I’ve ever seen in action. Wherever she lives (and it’s now London), she seems almost instantly to land in the thick of the action and be embraced by the very cool set.
Maxie now makes the only line of female chefs’ pants, which have been adopted by the industry in a big way. Polka Pants is her baby, and they rock. I just wish I’d had them when I was behind the pass. But back to the Alabama.
Is it a hotel? A bar? A backpackers’? A quiet eyrie in the heart of Hobart? It’s all of those, and more. And the history? Colourful, to say the least. She was born in 1867, when the USS Alabama made a big splash by sailing into Hobart. The new owner decided that his hotel needed a big name to make its own splash, and snaffled the navy ship’s moniker.
And now? In 2017? The hotel has settled into its new iteration splendidly. Aedan and Kelly keep a sharp eye on their ship, and have brought a delightful sense of whimsy and don’t give a f**k vibe to the décor. The rooms are as individual as their owners, and the lounge areas boast eye-catching statement art, and recycled comfy chairs. It works.
I can’t even say ‘comfy chair’ without thinking of the hilarious segment from the Disney cartoon series, “Duckwing Duck”. I hope you don’t mind, but I have to share:
Duckwing Duck (Daffy as pirate of the 2 seas) on capturing a hostage:
DD: “Okay, me hearties, what’ll we do with him? …. Let’s make him walk the plank!”
First mate: “Err sorry, your pirateness, but we don’t have a plank!”
DD: “What? No plank? We’re pirates and we don’t have a plank? What happened to our plank??”
FM: “Errr, we ate it yesterday for breakfast.”
DD: “Well, hoist him to the yard arm!”
FM: “Errr, that were lunch, today.”
DD: “Well what have we got?”
FM: “Errr, we do got a comfy sofa.”
DD: “Well tie him to the comfy sofa!”
I still laugh at that piece. Sometimes Disney has some quiet genius there that sneaks up on you. A bit like the Alabama. It’s friendly, it’s chic, and takes you in its embrace without a word. Kelly and Aedan have done their own thing and it’s sweet.
The Alabama is not the place for a late night blast, but a few drinks out on the patio watching the sun set over the cityscape of Hobart is one of the places I’d rather be than most others in the world.