Locked out – but not alone

Melbourne is in lock-down, with a six-week curfew curtailing life in the otherwise vibrant southern city. It’s no laughing matter. However, my little adventure, where I was locked out of a groovy Melbourne hotel room, rather than locked in, might just raise a smile.

‘ONE hot summer evening I arrive at the Brooklyn Arts Hotel, a Victorian mansion in Melbourne’s Fitzroy.

I feel exotic staying in this arty quarter and look forward to an early morning stroll through its bohemian streets.

Hotel owner and artist Maggie Fooke gives me a tour and I’m instantly in love with her beautiful, comfy pension.

The upstairs green room, the best in the house, is furnished with antiques and a piano and private bathroom.

Yes – this is the green room. There’s a little enclosed balcony off to the right.


Mine, a lovely pink, is downstairs and across the hall is the purple room. Off a courtyard garden are three more, including the yellow room.

The pink room – love the dramatic wall colour, tub chairs and Asian print

We downstairs guests share four courtyard bathrooms and silk robes are provided.

Maggie’s house is a salon; there’s nothing corporate here. It’s friendly, relaxed and don’t bother to lock your door, she says.

One of the funky items adorning the sitting-room walls

I meet fellow guest Ken who strolls in after a city dinner and I am introduced to Maggie’s friends who turn up for a nightcap.

But my pink room beckons and I’m keen to retire there.

A 3 am toilet trip sees me tip-toeing, silk-robed, over creaky floorboards, to the courtyard.  When I return, I discover I’m locked out. No amount of fiddling with the old-fashioned doorknob will get me in.

Maggie lives upstairs but I don’t know where and am loathed to creep about knocking on doors.

I remember my bedroom window is open and think I might be able to squeeze through, but I must prop open the huge front door that leads onto the veranda or it will slam behind me.

I look for something; this arty place yields a bounty of makeshift door stoppers and I pick up a tribal ornament, a warrior’s head I think.

I push my way through the veranda’s jungle of potted plants – where’s a tribal machete when you need one?

There’s a 30-cm gap and I push and shove the window but it doesn’t move.  I stand on an ornamental pot to get some height, teetering on the edge as two men wander along the street chatting about bohemian things at 3.30 am. I duck behind a Kentia palm hoping they don’t catch a flash of my silk robe. The men go, but the window doesn’t budge.

My tribal head and I creep back to the lounge room and I drag two regal looking Mozart-style armchairs together to make a bed, grip the scanty silk tighter and try to sleep.

The sitting room with what I call Mozart chairs. My makeshift bed for a few hours


At 6 am I hear footsteps upstairs and expect Maggie to come down. But she doesn’t and I’m cold.

A nearby door opens and Ken emerges, towel in hand, off to the shower. He passes the lounge room window and I wave and he waves back. I motion him to meet me in the hall where I put down the warrior, and tell him my plight.

He doesn’t laugh but tries his key to see if it works, but of course, it doesn’t.

Then he suggests I come into his room and wait for Maggie there. The yellow room is so cosy, the heater is on. I look at all the paintings on the wall, and then he says I should try and get some sleep. He pulls back the covers and smooths out the bed.

The yellow room, minus Ken. Love the fireplace

There’s nothing for me to do but slide into the unslept-in side, as my knight in shining bathrobe goes off to have a shower.

Lying there cocooned in a buttercup hue, I burst out laughing.

When Ken returns, dressed in his work gear, we chat about art as he packs his clothes into a suitcase.

He’s flying back to Sydney in a few hours and I’m off to visit friends for a few days. We talk about Maggie and her comfy old mansion and Ken goes off to have breakfast, leaving me to sleep.

I never do the Fitzroy walk; my slippers cover enough nocturnal miles in those rustic rose-carpeted halls.

The above story was originally published in The Australian newspaper.

Postscript: All good things seem to come to an end and I’ve recently read that the Brooklyn Arts Hotel has been sold and is set to become a private residence. Artist Maggie Fooke has shut up shop after running the hotel for 15 years. Here’s a story about the sale.



    • Thanks Lisa. You may recall I told you about this little noctural event at the time. Yes Ken was a night in shining business suit. I sent him the story when published. Cheers Caro

  1. Caroline, thanks for sharing your story I did have a laugh – there’s lot to be said for an en-suite!! But what a great hotel, a shame it’s been sold but maybe Maggie was fortunate to make the decision last year. Hope you are staying safe & well.

    • Thanks Lesley. I only noticed your comment now. Yes, there is a lot to be said for an ensuite.
      cheers, Caroline

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.