You’d be forgiven for not recognising the above building. Its face has completely changed, losing all of the detailing, into the boring blank canvas now called Grand Central Hotel on Wellington Street.
Built in 1903, the Grand Central Coffee Palace was a magnificent hotel, but a hotel without an alcohol license. Didn’t stop a succession of owners selling beer under the counter. Usually to undercover police officers. With predictable results.
Today, it is a grungy backpackers. The sort of backpackers that gets reviews like this on TripAdvisor:
This place is full of junkies. The beds and rooms, bathrooms, kitchen and common area are truly disgusting. We’ve never stayed in a place like it. Booked for a week but could only stand one night in this hovel.
A century ago, reviews would have also been negative. But back then it was not the owners’ fault.
It was only shortly after opening that the Palace was in trouble. Just like our TripAdvisor guests, visitors would book in for a week but depart in a filthy mood after only one night.
To cater for Perth’s late-night crowd, the council had allowed a café-de-kerb (coffee stand to you and me) to operate directly opposite the Palace on the other side of Wellington Street.
The council, in its wisdom, had also installed a public urinal on the site too. Which attracted even more of the inebriated class.
As soon as the pubs closed, all the drunks in town—of both sexes—would flock to the coffee stall to get some caffeine and a hot pie.
Bedlam then ensued, as brawls broke out every night, and ‘disgusting language’ was shouted until two or three in the morning.
Those guests in the front rooms of the Palace would simply pack up for a quieter hotel somewhere else.
The council said they would try to find somewhere else for the café-de-kerb. This was beyond their capabilities, though, since no new site was apparently available anywhere in Perth.
So, next time you’ve had a night out in the CBD, and feeling a bit tipsy, grab a coffee and a pie, head for Wellington Street and relive the good old days.