What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

by | Venue Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride


 Situated in a beautiful part of Melbourne, the historic Pumphouse Hotel is surrounded by gardens, laneways and terrace homes. Within the hotel, St Andrews Conservatory is a contemporary glass roofed space decked out in glowing lanterns – perfect for a wedding reception under the stars but protected from the changeable Melbourne weather. Talk to the friendly staff at St Andrews Conservatory about their new venue styling service, or opt to bring in your own vendors – either way, this space will glow with the individual and personal stamp you put on your wedding. Let’s meet Susan, the very helpful and sparkling Function Manager and let her show us through her office.

What is the history of The Pumphouse Hotel?
The original site of the hotel was built in 1854 and was named the St Andrews Hotel.  A fire in the late 1800’s destroyed the building and it wasn’t until 1927 that the Hotel was rebuilt. An Irish woman, who was involved in the rag trade, and always wanted to own a pub, bought the St Andrews Hotel in the late 1980’s.  After flicking through an Irish pub guide, she decided on the name The Pumphouse Hotel.  In the mid 1990’s the Hotel changed hands to its current owner and has undergone a few facelifts over the last decade.

The Hotel has been hosting weddings for over two decades, and was one of the first venues in Melbourne to offer a point of difference from traditional wedding reception venues.

Where is The Pumphouse Hotel situated?
We are very fortunate to be located opposite the spectacular Carlton Gardens, the Royal Exhibition Building, and Melbourne Museum. Most of our couples take advantage of this and hold their ceremonies at various spots throughout the gardens.  It just makes it so easy for guests to walk across the road and into the Hotel, and there are hundreds of amazing photo opportunities throughout the grounds.

Of course also being located in Fitzroy, we have a number of cobbled laneways winding around us, heritage listed buildings, and old Victorian terrace homes just a stone’s throw away.

Image by Fi Mims Photography

Please tell us about St Andrews Conservatory?
By day, our brilliantly refurbished Conservatory is filled with natural light spilling from its distinctive glass roof. This feature is hung with delicate Chinese lanterns which, in the evening, illuminate the venue and give a sense of romance.  The stunning wrought iron gates outside, and the trees lining the windows, which light up in the evening, all contribute to making this a magical space to hold your celebration.

How many guests can the Conservatory hold?
One of the best things about the room is its versatility.  We can seat anywhere from 30 people (without making the group feel lost), to 120 people with plenty of room for dance space.  We can also seat 140 people with no dance space.
For cocktail functions, usually a minimum of 60 guests is suggested so the room doesn’t feel so sparse.  However, we can accommodate 160 guests with dance space or even 180 guests without the need for dancing.

Image courtesy of The Pumphouse Hotel

How would you describe the food you serve at weddings?
Modern Australian and plentiful!

Can you cater to individual dietary requirements?
We can cater to virtually any type or requirement of food preference.   Having the full bistro menu available in our restaurant makes it easy for us to offer alternative dishes to those who have specific requirements.  Also, as we serve a la carte menu, and cook to order, this enables us to handle any dietary requirement or preference quickly and effortlessly.

Would you describe a sample menu for winter and how the food is served?
Our seated weddings include a full a la carte service.  Couples choose their own three course menu from a variety of options, and guests then order individually.  This allows people to cater for their own tastes and sometimes even experiment with different and exciting things. My favourite winter dishes at the moment on our wedding menu are:
Tasmanian smoked salmon, goats cheese and crab meat roulade with chunky avocado salsa and saffron infused oil

Followed by either:
Orange & soy roasted duck with garlic and sage kipfler potatoes, enoki mushrooms, baby spinach and maple glaze;

or the Roasted lamb rump on warm salad of caramelised pumpkin, cherry tomatoes and spinach with rosemary and red currant sauce.

Image by Milk Photography

Do you have a wedding planner on staff?
Currently we are just focusing on the reception part of weddings, however we do hope to expand on this in the future.

What sort of services may brides bring in to the Hotel to help them with the wedding day – cake, wedding stylist, florist etc?
Brides have pretty much no limits on what they can bring into the Conservatory. We love when couples get creative and style the room with their own visions!

Couples are more than welcome to outsource florists and stylists to create something that reflects their individual style, however we do offer an in-house styling service for couples who would prefer the convenience of having everything in one place!

Are bridal couples able to have their ceremony as well as their reception in St Andrews Conservatory?
Recently we’ve seen a huge surge in couples wanting to utilize the space in the Conservatory for their ceremony as well as the reception.  And why not?! We are all familiar with the unpredictability of Melbourne weather, and with the Conservatory being such an open bight space, it gives you the feeling of being outdoors even though you’re safely inside!
We now offer a few different options for couples who wish to also hold their ceremony in the Conservatory.

Is there accommodation nearby for out of town guests?
The Nunnery Guesthouse is literally 2 doors’ up from us on Nicholson St.  It was an old convent built in the 1860’s, that has been converted into a private hotel, complete with open marble fireplaces(!). Some of our bridal couples have actually rented the whole guesthouse for their interstate guests or family.  The Quest Royal Garden Apartments are also within a 5 minute walk.  Both places are very convenient to get to, after you’ve celebrated a wedding to remember.

Image by Fi Mims Photography

Are there attractions locally, that guests can see and do, pre or post wedding?
The Carlton Gardens are absolutely stunning to walk through! Grab a coffee and have a wander around the many fountains and statues! Autumn is my favourite time, I love looking across at all the leaves blowing off the trees, and swirling around! It’s an incredibly beautiful sight – just like the movies!

Brunswick Street is also a must for anyone staying around the area! There is no better place in Melbourne for a pre, or post wedding (de-brief) breakfast than one of the bustling Brunswick St cafes! And after that, just take a stroll through the many lane ways filled with street art around the Fitzroy area.  You’ll be almost guaranteed to stumble upon a hidden bar, pub or café and these are often the little gems that make the whole “wedding weekend” all that more special.

Image courtesy of The Pumphouse Hotel

There’s something about Melbourne…….
That you just can’t explain.  The atmosphere, the weather, the culture, the options … it just goes on! I have a lot of interstate and overseas friends, and I just cannot find the words to describe to them why I love living here so much … it’s just THAT great!

Your favourite café for breakfast?
Would hands down be Babka Bakery Cafe on Brunswick Street. Unpretentious, cozy and most importantly, great coffee! They bake everything on site, so make sure you take home some of their utterly to die for almond croissants, and fresh sourdough bread!!

Thank you Susan for telling us about The Pumphouse Hotel. To find out more about St Andrews Conservatory at the Pumphouse Hotel visit the website.

Headshot of Susan by Snap Above


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