Featured Image for Yep, there really is a bar in Melbourne named after an eccentric 19th century brothel owner

Yep, there really is a bar in Melbourne named after an eccentric 19th century brothel owner

With a name like Madame Brussels, you might be mistaken for thinking this Melbourne bar was named after an aristocrat. But as a matter of fact, Madame Brussels is named after an eccentric brothel owner of the 19th century.

After her husband died and she had sent her daughter to a ‘respectable private school’ in Melbourne, Madame Brussels, better known as Mrs. Hodgson back then, opened up shop on Lonsdale Street to make her own money. And by ‘shop’ I mean brothel. Yep, this 28-year-old was business savvy and found a gap in the market to fill, so to speak.

In 1889, Madame Brussels’ fame was skyrocketing and she was well known throughout Melbourne for her brothels. In fact, she had ‘no less than eight of the brothels in the area’ during this time.

With business sense like that, why wouldn’t you name your bar after her?

Madame Brussels isn’t located in any of the old brothels owned by Hodgson but the old world charm of this era is certainly on display at this Bourke Street bar. This ‘rather fancy terrace and public house’ features an astro-turf lawn with gorgeous views of the Melbourne CBD.

Stop by after a day exploring Melbourne to order goodies like a Pimm’s cocktail and an old fashioned sandwich, or indulge in one of Madame Brussels’ garden parties, where you’ll be treated like a lady (or a gentleman!) and have signature drinks served up like only Madame Brussels knows how.

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Here are some other fantastic Melbourne locales to check out:
Berlin Bar
Berlin Bar

Berlin Bar is where you go when you’re in dire need of some serious historic atmosphere. Ring the doorbell, be welcomed inside and choose to sit in either the East Berlin or West Berlin section and enjoy a cloudy pint of Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen.

The Croft Institute
Croft Institute

You’ll think you’ve accidentally stepped back in time when visiting the The Croft Institute. This Melbourne landmark is designed like an old school science lab on the ground floor and features a second floor gymnasium complete with a dance floor, bleachers and real turf bar.

Seamstress bar

Housed in a former textile factory, Seamstress not only boasts a traditional pan-Asian menu in their dining room, but a multi-award winning cocktail bar upstairs. Sit at the bar under the hanging fabric and order yourself a dry martini-it’s one of their specialties.

The LuWow
The Lulwow

Craving a tiki paradise? The LuWow in Melbourne’s Fitzroy neighbourhood will take you far away with their tropical cocktails, Polynesian platters, extravagant island surroundings, and class on rum!


1806 bar

1806 is the year that the word cocktail was first defined in print, and this is the place you want to sip them at. As well as classic cocktails to enjoy in a cosy atmosphere, 1806 also offers cocktail making classes so you can enjoy the tricks of the trade at home.

Madame Brussel's
Madame Brussel's
Madame Brussel's
Madame Brussel's