Venue type: Bar, Club
If it's not down the end of an alley off an alley these days, a major coolness factor is lost. The Croft Institute delivers, with its little illuminated sign indicating there's something at the end of the grimy alley you're currently thinking twice about walking down. It isn't a great walk, but hey, it sorts out the cool from the uncool.
The lab themed bar. Light olive colour. Racks of test tubes, flowers on tables in little beakers, and industrial looking sinks around the room. Sprinkle some stools, cushioned areas and artworks around the place, then wheel in a DJ spinning background.
It's a three-level jobbie, so a trip upstairs is part of the experience. Croft Institute's level two toilet area is one of Melbourne's best.
Up even more stairs to the top floor. Here things are completely different, with a theme that feels like school gymnatics. It's the main dancefloor area which is open on the weekends, featuring house, electro and co.
Patrons are your late 20s casually cool kind of bar hoppers we all know and love. The door policy can be strictish after about 10pm, so don't rock up in your office gear or something silly like that.
Super cool versus something creepy in this inner city bar with the science laboratory theme. The crowded downstairs bar is a good place to soak up the atmosphere and get your fill of imported beers, white spirits and house cocktails. Then head upstairs (checking out the interesting rest rooms on your way) for a boogie to dancy house and electro tunes. There is another bar in the dance area complete with astro turf (who need bar towels?). The crowd here is urban chic but here to have a good time and not pretentious. We certainly had a good time here, so it's thumbs up all round!
It's Simple.. this bar in one of a kind.
Yeah you walk through a dodgy looking laneway and into another and sometimes find a chef sitting on a milk crate having a smoke..you do think to yourself, "Am i going the right way?" But you then immerse yourself in the colorful art work on the walls while walking towards what you see to be a dead end until you see someone waslk outside having a smoke.. That's when you know you're heading into a remarkable unique place.
I tell everyone to go here. Why? Because there is nothing like it.
What club or bar have you been to that has a olden day wheelchair made completely out of wood hanging on the wall? Or a old hospital made up with a pillow and a blanket in the womens toilets? Or even and grass covered bar top?! Nothing compares to it.
The Music is great, caters for all and doesn't matter what you're into you'll fit right in :)
Zee, East Caulfield, 07/10
Going with locals (as they would be the only ones to remember where) this perhaps the freakiest bar I have ever been to. Navigating the Cleanaway bins through the lane reveals the back of a back door, which then opens to a high school science experiment. What are they smoking? It can only be done mid week, on a wet Melbourne evening - in the midst of a frosty winter, just like something out of Jack the Ripper. And then upon entering, you get gas taps, a sink, conical flasks and a hip DJ. Do yourself a favour and climb the stairs to take a leak and it's then that the epiphany hits you: that you you are in a truly eccentric, memorable and cool bar.
Steve Kelly, Sydney, 09/04
I think the Croft Institute is styled after a 30s university department: with a chemistry laboratory, halls of academia and a gym. Although for the layperson I can see them finding the distinction between a chemistry lab and a pharmacy difficult to grasp, because they share some (very little) equipment. Just think of the difference between a cabinent makers workshop and a carriage makers workshop, different trades.
I don't think anyone has done an animal testing laboratory themed bar, with cages of hairless mice that you are encouraged to let smoke your cigarettes.
Mark, Collingwood, 04/04
Croft Institute / Link to this page: https://www.partystar.com.au/venue/889/
2/430 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
1300 535 010