The coolest thing about the hidden bar scene in Melbourne is that a good chunk of the bars are located within close proximity. This makes it easy and convenient to walk between them.
Back in the day, Melbourne was known to contain pockets of brothels and unlicensed bars. And despite the years that have gone by since, the city has held onto this history, with an active hidden bar scene that people of all ages can enjoy.
If you’re looking for an adventure in the city, or simply a fun night out, definitely take note of these 10 epic hidden bars in Melbourne CBD.
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The Top 10 Hidden Bars in Melbourne CBD
1) Fall from Grace
So, you may have heard of a Melbourne bar that’s hidden behind a bookcase? Well even if you haven’t, it exists!
This famous hidden bar of Melbourne is located in the basement of the State of Grace. Simply enter this bar and look for a bookcase with a book titled “Fall from Grace”.
Once you pull on the right book the door will open, leading you to one of Melbourne’s most renowned hidden bars.
- Accessed by: Hidden Bookcase
- Opening hours: Friday & Saturdays from 5pm
- Address: 27 King Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
2) The Lui Bar
Only a 4-minute walk from Fall from Grace sits the Lui Bar.
Now this bar is not for the “budget-minded” traveller, with the minimum spend per head of $50 after 5pm. But, it is still a cool hidden bar nonetheless.
The Lui Bar is known to be quite luxurious, with an innovative and extensive drinks menu.
You can find it by entering the lobby of the office building at 525 Collins Street and catching the lift to Level 55.
This hidden bar may be a good one to visit towards the end of the night, once your wallet and inhibitions have loosened. Doing so may make the $50 minimum spend more swallowable. One can only hope…
“Jazz Sundays” will also return from November 2021 which is pretty funky. It would be worth navigating to their website to check whether you need to book in advance.
- Accessed by: Lobby lift to Level 55
- Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday (hours vary)
- Address: Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
Probably the least hidden bar of the lot (given there’s a sign out the front), however this is the place to hang if you love old-school games and arcades.
During COVID-19, Bartronica was busy renovating the entire venue including the addition of more classic booths to enjoy.
From Mario Kart to Smash Bros they offer an extensive range of Pinnies and Classic Arcade games.
If this sounds like your kind of vibes, head on down the staircase to this funky hidden bar.
- Accessed by: A staircase
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 12pm/3pm – late.
- Address: 335 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
4) Bar Americano
Supposedly home to the world’s BEST Negroni, Bar Americano was opened in 2011 to honour the Golden Age of drinking, the time of the “American Bar”.
Not only are they recognised as being Australia’s first “standing only” venue but they have also won various awards including Best Cocktail Bar and Best Cocktail Menu.
Their drinks menu does change day by day depending on seasonality and ingredients available. They also make their own daily distillations, elixirs and infusions.
If you prefer custom cocktails or get claustrophobic in small spaces, then this mightn’t be the bar for you. However, this intimate venue is renowned for serving the classics.
You can find Bar Americano by walking along Howey Place (off Little Collins Street) and heading down the first laneway, “Presgrave Place”. From here, you can access the bar at the end of the laneway.
- Accessed by: The door with a blue neon “T” sign and framed pictures on the outside wall
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday from 5pm until sold out (usually around 9pm-12pm).
- Address: 20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
5) Berlin Bar
Established in 2009, Berlin Bar offers a unique take on Berlin during the Cold War. This is another great bar that I have personally experienced.
It’s a place where Capitalist opulence (West Berlin) confronts Communist austerity (East Berlin) and where classic cocktails mingle with modern creativity, with most of the cocktails named after famous Cold War identities.
Berlin Bar is split into two separately themed rooms:
- On one end you have the Capitalist side, which is representative of West Berlin. Think leather, crystals and everything opulent. Here, you’ll have a choice to sit at luxurious booths, tables or even in the “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) section.
- On the other hand, you have the Communist side, which is themed to represent East Berlin during the Cold War. This room is darker, less extravagant and is filled with Communist propaganda. From memory, I think there may even be a bunk bed that you can sit on.
Although both sections are pretty cool, I personally liked the grunginess of the Communist side because of its one-of-a-kind character.
So…which side will you join? East or West?
- Accessed by: Open the door beneath the yellow and black bear shield. Head up the stairs and once you reach a door with a slit, ring the doorbell beside it.
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 5pm to late (Between 12pm-1pm)
- Address: Top Floor, 16 Corrs Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000.
StoryVille would have to be one of my absolute favourite bars in Melbourne. I discovered this bar by accident one night and was completely blown away.
Styled around childhood fairy tales and stories that we all know and love, this fairy tale themed venue offers a truly unique experience.
From “Beauty and the Beast” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” themed cocktails to glowing toadstools sprouting from the walls, this venue is the perfect destination to relive your childhood memories.
During the week, the Mushroom Palace Cocktail bar comes alive offering a chilled out atmosphere of cocktails and background music so you can relax after a long day’s work.
On the weekend, StoryVille becomes one of Melbourne’s greatest party destinations with two floors of music and entertainment featuring some of Melbourne’s best DJs.
It becomes a world where anything is possible.
If you’re the dancing kind, like me, then you’ll love this hidden bar with its extensive range of music including soul, R&B / Hiphop, funky house and deep/tech house.
If you haven’t been to StoryVille before, this is definitely one of the best hidden bars of Melbourne to tick off your bucket list.
- Accessed by: Laneway and staircase. Entrance via Waratah Place.
- Opening hours: Thursday-Sunday from 5pm to the wee hours of the morning!
- Address: 185 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000.
7) Little Lon Distilling Co.
This little tucked away gem would have to be one of my top-rated bars, of those we visited on Show Me Melbourne’s Hidden Bar Tour.
Little Lon, as it’s known, is a charming cocktail bar and gin distillery with a very abundant and ominous history.
This cottage was once a key part of the city’s slums and red light district, particularly during the 1850s and the 1870s, where prostitutes and brothels were in their “hey day”.
Presently, it is one of the last remaining single story cottages in Melbourne CBD.
Although not “concealed” like some of the other hidden bars in Melbourne, you’re unlikely to stumble across Little Lon unless you know where to go.
The location of this bar is really cool – tucked away but surrounded by several modern office buildings. This creates an incredible atmosphere and contrast against Little Lon’s ancient brickwork (the old vs. the new).
The easiest way to find Little Lon bar is to walk down Madame Brussels Lane from Lonsdale Street. Once you get to the open courtyard, you’ll see the small brick cottage on your right.
Little Lon is most known for its small-batch distilled gin, which is made on premises and inspired by the characters who once trod the lurid laneways of the district.
They also host gin masterclasses and gin tasting experiences for those interested in learning more about the world of gin.
- Accessed by: Madame Brussels Lane
- Opening hours: Thursday – Saturday from 4 – 11pm. 2-6pm on Sundays.
- Address: 17 Casselden Place, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
8) New Gold Mountain
New Gold Mountain is a very small and intimate bar themed around the time of the gold rush in the 1850’s, when Chinese miners flocked to Victoria with hopes of winning big for their families.
Little Bourke Street (now Chinatown) had become a thriving base for Chinese entrepreneurs who set up shops, restaurants and businesses. Among those were “salubrious” enterprises including opium dens, brothels and boarding houses.
Another bar with a great history, you’ll get to see real photos of Chinese miners as you wind your way up the stairs to the bar.
The bartenders at New Gold Mountain are also known for their great skill and for only using locally sourced spirits. From memory, I believe they only use sustainable Australian brands, however don’t quote me on that!
Simply knock on and open the secret door with a black bicycle above it, and walk your way up the myriad of stairs to the top.
You’ll be very warm and cosy in this bar.
- Accessed by: The door with a black bicycle and the number “21” above it.
- Opening hours: Thursday – Saturday from 5pm – late (1am/3am depending on the night)
- Address: 21 Liverpool Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
9) Pizza Pizza Pizza
Pizza Pizza Pizza is a small pizza takeaway shop located on Meyers Place in the city. At first glance, you’d simply buy a $5 pizza and be on your way.
BUT, there’s an unexpected twist.
Behind this relaxed pizza shop, is one of the most concealed hidden bars of Melbourne. You’d never know it was there unless someone told you!
Carrying the theme of a standard modern bar, you can go in and sit at one of the many tables or booths and enjoy their range of delicious pizzas and/or cocktails.
Simply ask one of the pizza shop staff if you can see the “Secret Menu” and they’ll take you right on through to the back bar.
- Accessed by: Say you’re looking for “The Secret Menu” at the pizza shop
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 5pm – late
- Address: 16 Meyers Place, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
10) Eau de Vie
Eau de Vie is designed as a bar straight out of 1920’s prohibition America. From the moment you walk in you will be taken back to a much forgotten era.
Once inside, there are many places to sit:
- At the bar
- Shared high tables
- Low banquette and coffee tables
- Intimate and private booths
You can also discover their Whiskey Room which is secretly hidden behind one of the venue’s bookcases. Here you’ll find a large collection of rare and exclusive whiskies.
The Whisky Room can be transformed into a private space and is the perfect place for private events for groups of 15 – 40 guests. When not booked, this room becomes a great place to enjoy one of their many whiskies.
If you’re a whiskey fan or connoisseur, this hidden bar may be one you’d like to put to the top of your list.
- Accessed by: The big wooden door with a lantern above it.
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 5pm – late
- Address: 1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
The Best Way to Experience Melbourne’s Hidden Bar Scene
The best way to experience the hidden bars of Melbourne is on foot, by doing a self-guided bar-hop or a group tour.
Catch public transport into the city, or park your car, and then continue the rest of the journey on foot.
The trick is to not bite off more than you can chew though.
If you try to visit too many bars in one night, you’ll have very little time to spend at each one – which kind of defeats the whole purpose.
I’d recommend picking 2-3 bars from the list above (that are within close proximity). Alternatively, you can do what we did and join a group tour.
Personally, I found this to be a fantastic way to not only explore Melbourne’s hidden bar scene, but to also learn about some of Melbourne’s history which makes the city what it is today.
So, there you have it!
10 Epic Hidden Bars in Melbourne CBD & The Best Way to Find Them!
- Fall from Grace
- The Lui Bar
- Bar Americano
- Berlin Bar
- Little Lon Distilling Co.
- New Gold Mountain
- Pizza Pizza Pizza
- Eau de Vie
Do you know any others that should be added to the list?
Either way, I hope that you can now feel confident to hit the town and explore some of Melbourne’s best hidden bars.
If you want an all-inclusive experience, you can check out the tours by Show Me Melbourne.