White Night is one of the largest events on Melbourne’s social calendar, attracting locals as well as interstate and international guests.
Approximately 500,000 people attended the event this year, making the search for weekend accommodation one of the largest problems.
Hotels, motels and hostels in the CBD and Melbourne area were booked to capacity , even with their higher prices – raised specifically for the event.
Matthew, from Sydney, who stays in Melbourne often, said he struggled to find a hotel. “Normally I stay in a hotel that is a maximum of $250 a night, but the price went up to five, six or even seven hundred dollars per night for the same hotel.”
“To come here, we researched 29 hotels and two online websites before we found one. When we did find one, in the process of paying for the room, the room had already gone so we had to spend another hour finding another hotel.”
The Newsroom compared hotel prices and struggled to find any rooms. There was a substantial increase in prices for the same rooms on Saturday, February 21 (White Night), over Saturday, February 28.
The Marriott Melbourne, located on Lonsdale Street, had a $480 difference between the two nights: approximately $999 to book a single room over the White Night weekend, and $519 a week later. There was a $282 increase at Hotel Lindrum Melbourne on Flinders Street.
Mr Neang, a Cambodian national who came to Melbourne for a two-week stay with his wife, said: “we would love to have stayed in a nice hotel tonight [White Night], but we just couldn’t afford it so we’re staying at a hostel.”
The Newsroom’s research showed hostel prices had not increased – but it was near impossible to find a free room.
A lucky few may have booked early enough to miss the extravagant mark-ups, like Jim Hamilton from Scotland.
“I booked mine [hotel] almost 18 months ago, and I’m glad I did because when I found out that White Night was going to fall on my stay here, I called my hotel to negotiate not paying more for the night,” he said.
Though the exploitative pricing seems shocking, it happens with all major Melbourne events including the Australian Open and the AFL grand final.
Prices aside, White Night Melbourne 2015 was a night to remember. – Words and photos by Simone Poole