Campari House, Melbourne, Australia – Review

.tags It was a warm Friday night when I attended a late session of birthday drinks at Campari House. Nestled along Melbourne’s famed hardware lane often alive with the clanging of cutlery and the toe tapping rhythms of the street’s own live jazz band, Campari House offers a stylish dining experience to rival the best in Italian cuisine. Set over four levels, each designed with their own theme, the venue itself is one of those places that sound tantalising on paper.

Arriving just as the last waiters were stacking away chairs in the now dimly lit ally ways, I was expecting or somewhat hoping to see groups of rowdy youths milling outside the entrance and half drunken after-work crowds spilling out onto the balconies. Instead I could barely find the front door and was ushered in by a helpful waiter clocking off for the night.

I made my way up the flight of stairs. The venue was empty by then, and the first two levels had already shut down for the night, their doors locked tightly (I checked) leaving us no choice but to continue nervously upward. If you reach this stage and are too left bewildered, press on for as we finally opened out onto the rooftop, it was like discovering an urban oasis! It was the ‘secret garden’ hidden amongst the cobblestones of the now darkened and deserted streets below.

As we entered, we were met by bright lights, friendly faces, chattering friends and, best of all, a relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Many a rooftop bar in Melbourne strive to encompass sophistication and elegance, others perhaps a feeling of an open air pub. The Campari rooftop delivers a unique experience. As you take in the sights and smells, you get the feeling you’re at a mate’s BBQ. Complete with synthetic grass flooring, modern timber furnishings and coloured overhanging light bulbs this carefully manicured ‘backyard’ is instantly inviting. It even offers a range of pizzas and snacks. The space is relatively small but comfortably full. The gently buzzing of conversations between new acquaintances is mixed with the frequent shrills of laughter as old friends catch up and share hilarious anecdotes.

As I settle into a spare seat quickly wiped clean by the ever attentive staff here, I find myself pulled into a string of various conversations around the joining tables. I noticed how much I enjoyed the variety of characters that filled this little haven.

From a young and friendly punk music enthusiast who claimed to be a drummer in a band to an almost spaced out lawyer with impeccable comedic timing who seemed relieved to finally have some down time, it appears the Campari rooftop is a place where 20 somethings and 30 somethings can all mix and mingle with the greatest of ease.

There is no real dress code here but the general attire does reflect the casual vibe. This Friday night saw mainly girls in summer dresses and jeans paired with heals while guys wore t-shirts or shirts with jeans, just no ties! I even spied one woman with 3/4 cargoes and sneakers which I found rather amusing next to my 6 inch heals and studded tights. Did I mention I was ready to party?

Surprisingly, I revelled in this chilled out environment and forgot all about my plans to dance the night away. Until the bar closed offcourse and we all filed out sober for the most part because it was only 1 am.

If you’re thinking of a great little, casual bar to catch up with some friends over a few reasonably priced drinks (and where you can actually hear each other speak) I recommend Campari House. From my experience, it is generally a friendly crowd that gathers here to enjoy a few beers and reminisce under the stars set beautifully alight against the backdrop of the city’s picturesque skyline.