The Esplanade Hotel is an iconic public house in St Kilda, a beachside suburb of Melbourne, Australia. It is situated at 11 Upper Esplanade, overlooking Port Phillip on a rise opposite the St Kilda Pier, making it a significant landmark of St Kilda. It is commonly known locally as "The Espy".
The hotel was built in 1878 and remains one of the earliest, largest and most prominent 19th century resort hotels in Victoria.
Originally intended to be three large terraces, the building was altered to become a hotel during construction, and became one of the premier hotels in Melbourne outside the city.
Alterations were made in 1921 changing it from exclusive residential use for the wealthy to incorporate entertainment for the middle classes, with the addition at the ground floor of a grand staircase and lounge bar.
The Esplanade Hotel was the home of wealthy philanthropist Alfred Felton from 1892 until his death in 1904. The Hotel also reputedly hosted many famous visitors, such as Mark Twain and Sarah Bernhardt.
Architecturally, the hotel is designed in a conservative Italianate style yet somewhat influenced by the resort architecture in 19th century Britain, especially Brighton.
In the 1970s, the Hotel's Gershwin Room, a grand dining room, was turned into a disco (complete with flashing Saturday Night Fever-style dance floor).
Since the early 1980s, the Esplanade Hotel has been a strong supporter of alternative and independent music, comedy and radio.
As of 2006, the Espy features live music seven nights a week across as many as four stages with over 40 bands performing in any given week.
The hotel was bought by Carlton and United Breweries in 1995 and then by Becton Corporation in 1997 with plans to develop a large residential and retail complex on the site. Redevelopment plans have been met with strong community opposition with many people supporting the Espy's role in Melbourne culture and the independent music scene. Becton's proposal for the 35 storey residential complex resulted in 9000 residents registering objections and the trade union movement threatening to boycott construction if the pub was demolished .