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“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”




Zoe Cuthbertson



Melbourne is a city where it pays to be a local — a truth that led Darren Rubenstein to open United Places, a boutique ‘home hotel’ in his leafy neighbourhood of South Yarra. We instantly connected with the urbane hotelier’s attention to detail and his ethos that less is more; the South Yarra locale echoes Mies van der Rohe’s modernist Barcelona Pavilion, a study in minimalist design and exceptional materials. During our stay, we caught up with Darren and United Places General Manager, Kurt Bunyard to discuss how they are disrupting the hotel experience, their commitment to sustainability, and how the creative process led them to see their city from an entirely new perspective.

South Yarra, Victoria

Can you share the journey behind United Places and your concept of ‘a home hotel’?
Darren: I wanted to reimagine the boutique hotel experience, incorporating the highest level of service, presented in an intimate space with strong focuses on design and sustainability. It is a retreat from the fast-paced nature of life.

United Places sits opposite the Botanic Gardens in leafy South Yarra. What drew you to open a boutique hotel in this area of Melbourne?
Darren: Our position across from the Royal Botanic Garden makes United Places the perfect refuge from a traditional CBD setting, and the location on Domain Road makes us a part of the community. The building itself is a thoughtful response to the environment; where guests have the option of a Garden Suite, with views over the Gardens, or an Urban Suite, with views overlooking the rooftops and laneways of South Yarra.

A stay at United Places is a sensory journey from the moment guests arrive — we love the collection of Australian made Szilavassy Ceramics and the carefully curated Le Labo amenities. How are you disrupting the traditional hotel guest experience?
Darren: We are bringing the most premium design elements and collaborators, both local and international to a space that is luxurious and highly intimate. Our collaborators include Le Labo, Sullivans Cove small-batch whisky and designer, Patricia Urquiola.

Kurt: We provide a personalised concierge service, available to guest any time of day or night. Guests also receive priority reservations at Matilda159, Scott Pickett’s hatted restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel.

Why is modern wellness important to United Places?
Darren: We see ourselves as a place of refuge from the busyness and connectedness of everyday life. Not only do the interiors capture this essence, the guest experience is designed with modern wellness in mind; the use of non-toxic materials in construction, breathable cotton sheets and expansive balconies to enjoy the fresh air are all examples of this.

Kurt: Modern wellness is important because in the busy lives we lead it’s always healthy to take time out for yourself and this is evident the moment you enter your suite at United Places. Our guests always comment how quiet, peaceful and relaxing our suites are.

What does originality mean to you?
Darren: Doing things differently in an authentic and truly committed way. Our commitment to sustainability, with a focus on community and collaboration encapsulate the United Places experience and this represents originality to me.

Kurt: Originality to me means having the courage to be yourself and be authentic. United Places achieves this because of Darren’s meticulous attention to detail and commitment to aesthetics.

What’s next on the horizon?
Darren: We are currently in negotiations for a few sites in Australia and South East Asia. Since the pillars we stand for are so strong, each decision on location is carefully researched and thought through.

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