October 1, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo

It was touted as the tallest hotel in Australia – even in the southern hemisphere – when announced in 2017, but is Melbourne’s upcoming Ritz-Carlton really the highest hotel south of the equator, or south of the Murray?

On The Age newspaper’s former site in Spencer Street, the Ritz-Carlton occupies the tallest of four towers and its developer’s website declares it is “destined to be an attraction in its own right as the tallest hotel in Australia, upon arrival guests will enter the hotel lobby via the porte-cochere and take a direct elevator straight to the hotel’s sky check-in on level 80, offering panoramic views across Melbourne’s CBD and beyond”.

In the world of skyscrapers – defined as buildings over 150m tall – it is certainly not Australia’s tallest building with the Gold Coast’s Q1 standing 323.5m and its Melbourne neighbour, Eureka Tower at 292.38m.

An interesting sidenote here is that Eureka was built by the Grollo group whose co-founder Bruno Grollo, proposed a 678 m Grollo Tower in Docklands, later revised to 560m, and abandoned altogether in 2001.

In the global world of “my tower’s bigger than yours” there are three ways of measuring height – building height (including masts), architectural height (concrete and steel) and occupied height.  All seem to agree that however you measure it, the planet’s tallest building for now is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 868m (that’s almost 2,850 feet).

In fact-checking Ritz-Carlton Melbourne’s claim, its developers, Far East Corporation list the height at 268.7m. Meanwhile in NSW, the Sydney Tower, at 260m, was surpassed last year when Crown Towers Sydney opened at Barangaroo. Its UK architects Wilkinson Eyre list the building as 275m high with three levels of hotel suite at its peak – Level 87 and their best suite, Level 88 occupying two storeys with 360 degree views of the harbour and greater Sydney.