Historic Hopetoun Tea Rooms relaunch is a sweet success

Hopetoun Tea Rooms Melbourne
Brendan Rees

The iconic Hopetoun Tea Rooms, renowned for its enchanting cake displays, is captivating Melbournians once again at its new CBD home.

After gracing the Block Arcade for more than a century the famous cake store relaunched at the corner of Bourke and McKillop Streets in July last year following a change of ownership.

The business, which first opened its doors in 1892, opened a new bake shop last July at 20 McKillop St, with three new levels expected to open later this year at the main tearooms building 421 Bourke St, offering customers a unique dining experience that is both nostalgic and current.

“Hopetoun BakeShop is a modern take on traditional English bakery; that’s exactly who we are,” new owner Vikram Singh said.

While he admits he would have loved to have stayed at the Block Arcade after buying the business in 2020, he was unable to secure a lease.

But like its original home at the Block Arcade, the relocated bake shop exudes vintage charm with elegant décor and, of course, the timeless tradition of tea with an assortment of delicious treats from handmade biscuits, relishes and jams, petit cakes, and sandwiches – all baked onsite.    

“Our chefs are putting a lot of effort into it, the team is very passionate, they want to get everything correct as well as get the right English traditional recipes,” he said.


So far we’re going really good. It’s about heritage where you bring your kids and grandparents to see the traditional way of making cakes.


He said they look forward to opening new spaces at the 163-year-old Bourke St building, which had been delayed due to heavy construction happening around them.   

The ground floor will have public tea rooms while level one will be a dedicated, bookings-only high tea floor, and level two will house a function room catering up to 30 people.   



But the opening hasn’t been without its challenges.

According to Mr Singh, a new business called The Tea Rooms 1892, which opened at the original location of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms at the Block Arcade, too closely “mimics” his business including the gold signage and typography.

“The tearoom running in Block Arcade has no association with Hopetoun Tea Rooms,” Mr Singh said, noting customers “seem to be confused”.

“We’re working with the Block Arcade management to resolve it so we can get on with our business separately.”

The Block Arcade’s owner Grant Cohen – who runs The Tea Rooms 1892 – said he had been in talks with Mr Singh and that it was “completely business as usual” at the Block Arcade.

“The owner of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms agrees that the tea rooms at the Block Arcade are significant and historic and that we also agree that the name ‘Hopetoun’ is significant as well,” he said.

“So, they’ve both got their place here in Melbourne; very much so.”

As part of the mediation process between both parties, the original gold signage under the windows was removed and replaced with a sign saying, “Historic Tea Rooms”.   

The original sign will be sent to Mr Singh’s Bourke St shop where it will be displayed.

Mr Singh said, “at the end of the day we don’t have any issue with them (Block Arcade) running a tearoom so long as it doesn’t mislead people”.

“The Block Arcade is a beautiful place, it’s a beautiful location. It’s heritage and you don’t want to spoil the heritage. We want to wish them all the best.”

In the meantime, Mr Singh said he would “love for people to come in and try our product and give their feedback”. •

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