The Quirky Themed Bars Of Melbourne

West Berlin | Courtesy of Berlin Bar
West Berlin | Courtesy of Berlin Bar
Photo of Monique La Terra
27 October 2017

Tired of the countless dimly lit bars that play the same music as the place next door and may as well share the decorator? Then why not check out one of these themed venues where the more eccentric the better. Melbourne’s quirky bar scene is growing in popularity with people choosing the odd over the ordinary. Science laboratories, Cold War Germany, escape bars, and Tiki rooms are amongst the venues on our list of bars guaranteed to make for an unforgettable evening.

The Croft Institute

At the end of a dark and winding alleyway in Chinatown lies a mad scientist’s laboratory called The Croft Institute. Surrounded by beakers, test tubes, and Bunsen burners the ground floor is the place to pick your poison, fit with plastic syringe, and chat with friends in a dimly lit room. On the second floor are the bathrooms, but be warned the corridor resembles a doctor’s office and the eerie lighting and hospital bed will have you feeling as if you’ve stumbled into an abandoned asylum. Once you’re scared out of your mind head up to the ‘gymnasium’ for a dance with the live DJs.

21 Croft Alley Melbourne, VIC, Australia,+61 03 9671 4399

h Apartment

Bar, Italian, Australian
In homage to street walker and oil painter Katishe, 29th Apartment is styled as an urban New City Apartment filled with all the comforts from home. The living room features exposed brick wallpaper, a retro TV playing old-school movies and games like Jenga and Connect Four. There’s also a bedroom, complete with bean bags in the bathtub and a double bed as well as a dining room and toadstool area. The bar holds over 100 spirits and when you get tired of dancing, you can challenge yourself to a game of pinball.


Since December 2014, Trapt has been challenging teams to discover clues, crack puzzles and escape from its themed rooms before time runs out. There are four multi-sensory rooms, Wonderland which takes you down the rabbit hole with Alice; Biohazard challenges your ‘specialist recovery team’ to locate missing scientists in a high security government laboratory; Prisonbreak dares you to escape from a cell you were wrongly imprisoned in and Transylvania has you waking up in a dungeon as something mysteriously eerie blocks the door. Once your teams escapes you celebrate with a much-deserved drink and recount your experience.

The Basement 377 Lonsdale St Melbourne VIC, Australia, +61 03 9077 7941


Courtesy of Trapt


Bar, Cocktails, Asian, Vietnamese, $$$
LuWOW is a tropical paradise straight out of an Elvis movie that will have you singing ‘In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room’ all night long. This Tropicana venue is part bar, part dance floor and part vacation complete with palm trees, Tiki masks and Polynesian art. To the left is The Island Village with its thatched roof and private bamboo huts, while on the right is The Forbidden Temple dance space open on Fridays and Saturdays. Order a Mai Tai or their signature Island of the Zombie, and drift away to rockabilly and reggae tunes. Hawaiian shirt optional.

Berlin Bar

Bar, Cocktails, German, $$$
Accessible via Chinatown’s Little Bourke Street, entry into Berlin Bar requires that you ring the doorbell before you’re transported to Cold War Germany. Spilt into East and West Berlin this bar is a boozy history lesson that perfectly captures how wonderfully unique Melbourne’s bar scene is. The décor in West Berlin is lavish and formal making this the side to order a cocktail. Meanwhile, East Berlin sits in stark contrast and looks bleak and informal with its bunk beds, grenade crates and bathtub.


Head to Fitzroy’s IceBar where you can try your luck at a giant avalanche Jenga, drink from frosted resin glasses and play an Antarctic game of hoop. With the bar set to subzero temperatures, it’s best to leave the stilettos and skimpy skirts at home. Upon arrival the staff will provide you with snow capes, gloves and snow boats and once you’re cozy you’ll be ready to head in to Melbourne’s own ice palace. Kids are welcome until 6:30pm, and there is no time limit to your stay, although most people can only withstand 30 minutes before they hang up their Eskimo gear.

319 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC, Australia,+61 03 9077 9716


Bar, Beer, $$$
Bartronica | Courtesy of Bartronica
Bartronica is a vintage arcade bar in Finders Lane packed with video games, pinball machines, and race car simulators. From Mario Kart to Mortal Kombat, Nintendo 64 to Sega, Bartronica has all the classics dating as far back as 1975 and the venue even hosts competitive tournaments. Top scores are written on the chalkboard every night, and when you’re ready to recharge there is craft beer and a New York-style beer garden. If craft beer isn’t your thing, then try an ’80s inspired drink with names including Girls on Film, Risky Business, and Fatal Attraction.

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