James Downie first built the Victorian mansion in 1890, naming her “Estella”. It was a private home for many years and a notable landmark on one of Melbourne’s most famous boulevards. In 1937 the buildings name was changed to Rathgael and was later utilized as office space for some time. In 1974, the building façade was recognised by the National Trust as “historic” and is now conserved under Heritage Victorian Law. In 1972 it was converted into a fine dining establishment which remains steadfast. The Willows is a wonderful example of the practical method of preserving South Melbourne’s architectural past.
The Estella Room has been named in honour of the original owner’s wife, Estella. It features large bay windows and original architecture, to which has been added modern artwork and a granite topped bar. The Lindsay Room has been named in honour of Mr Lindsay Hay, a local resident of the area who has been a loyal patron of The Willows for over three decades. His warmth and humour have added much to the richness of The Willows and we are delighted to capture his spirit in the naming of this room.
The Willows has an enviable dining history that has stood the test of time. We host 200+ events per annum with pervasive success. Our success is built largely on word of mouth and our encouraging testimonials support this. More importantly, we are committed to working tirelessly and seamlessly to ensure that your event is a memorable one for all the right reasons. Our motto - “it’s in the experience” underpins the expectation that all clients should have a positive, memorable and special experience. This is the cornerstone of our reputation and something we are extremely proud of.
With more than a decade of event experience, the Willows have established a strong and reputable supplier-network however you are not obliged to use our approved suppliers. We are more than happy to work alongside your chosen suppliers in bringing together all your event needs.
Yes, your package can be altered depending on your needs. The Willows is more than pleased to take a bespoke approach and recognises that all couples and clients are different. We are eager to ensure that your event is as unique as the venue.
Yes, a tentative booking can be placed and may give you peace of mind as you find your way through the decision making process. Tentative bookings are normally held for a 7 day period however this can be commonly extended if there is no other interest in that date.
Our standard event duration for an evening event is five hours and four hours for a daytime event. Should you wish to extend your event time beyond this we can provide you with options to accommodate your needs. Having said this, all events are different and we are flexible depending on each customer’s requirements.
The conservatory is fitted with three reverse cycle units providing air conditioning in the summer months and heating in the cooler days. This allows for climate control all year round and is fully weather proof.
In addition to heating and cooling, the conservatory also enjoys - natural setting with garden surrounds, flexible layout, PA system and surround sound, audio visual equipment, electric shade awnings and expansive bi-fold doors which can be opened depending on the weather conditions.
There are four lanes of parking available on St Kilda Road. Parking is free of charge after 6pm weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday. There are two side streets (Arthur & Leopold) within 200m of the venue also. During the week before 6pm, we recommend using nearby Secure Parking facilities at 23 Queens Lane and Leopold Street.
Centrally located, The Willows is a convenient inner city venue with easy public transport access. The nearest tram stops include the corner of Arthur/Slater Street & St Kilda Road (Stop 23) and the corner of Leopold Street & St Kilda Road (Stop 24). Trams lines 3 to 6, 16, 64 & 72 all run via St Kilda Road and frequently head to the CBD, St Kilda, Chapel Street, Toorak and South Yarra. Toorak Road, Commercial Road and Domain Interchange are all a short walk away.
Cabs are readily hailed along St Kilda Road and very easy to access. Our friendly staff would be more than happy to hail a cab or make a booking on your behalf or your guests.
The Blackman, Art Series Hotels are our official accommodation partner. With a contemporary, boutique interior and an enviable location, The Blackman is only a stone’s throw from The Willows. Offering 209 spacious suites, kitchenettes, designer furnishings and balconies, The Blackman will inspire your imagination and exceed your expectations. Discerning Willows customers enjoy 10% off the best rates available.
The Willows offers complimentary wi-fi, wireless microphone & lectern, projector and screen as well as in-house surround sound system.
Wedding & social events are almost always exclusive given the personal nature of these events. Provided you meet the minimum spend, exclusivity is assured in all cases. Sometimes, particularly around Christmas, corporate groups are happy to share the venue provided they have a clear and delineated space to themselves. Our event team can discuss minimum spends and exclusivity with you in more detail.
Yes, we encourage customers to attend tasting nights in order to do so. Tasting Nights are typically held 1-2 times per month on a Thursday evening. A Tasting Calendar can be emailed to you upon request with the necessary forms to complete your tasting preferences.
The Willows is happy to accommodate any dietary needs by either suggesting an alternative dish or altering an existing dish depending on the guests needs. Vegetarian and gluten free options have been built into our menu portfolio. Trust that we take all allergies seriously and will oblige with exactness. Additional dietary needs do not attract any extra charges.
The Willows will made provisions to include personalised menus, seating plans and guests lists, signage as required, double linen and napkins (white), garden lanterns, tea lights, dance floor, fully licensed bar, microphones, surround sound, planning assistance and set up.
Our event planners are qualified professionals who have spent considerable time in the wedding and events industry. Additionally, all staff under-go an extensive and thorough training process to ensure that they are best placed to help you achieve your plans. It is our job to guide clients by making recommendations on how best to execute your event. Event planners are also present on the day of the event and can assist with particulars relating to set up and coordination of third party suppliers.
Yes, you may decorate and / or theme the venue in any style you prefer. The Willows have a couple of stylists whom we recommend and work closely with. Applause Entertainment are also able to assist with theming and special effects.
Yes, we often make arrangements to accommodate ceremony rehearsals. This can be both necessary and a fun experience in the lead up to the big day!
Depending on the time of day, The Willows recommends either The Blackman, “Classico” or Hunters Kitchen & Bar which is located right next door. This is a perfect spot post rehearsals during the week, to get together with friends and relatives.
No, there is no requirement to book security at The Willows. Street traffic is minimal negating the need for this.