Much of the building on St Kilda Road occurred in the boom of the 1880’s. Most allotments were developed by Melbourne’s wealthy who built villas or mansion houses. In 1888, Alfred G Hodgson purchased the hotel site undeveloped. Hodgson had arrived in the Colony of Victoria in 1853 and had made his fortune as a tailor in Lonsdale Street.
He engaged Charles Webb & Sons to design "a handsome new residence". Charles Webb had arrived in Australia in 1849 to join his brother James. The two had gone into partnership as Architects & Surveyors in Collins Street. Charles practised alone from 1858 until joined by his sons in 1888. He was a founding member of the Victorian institute of Architects, and was president in 1882-3. Some important works by Webb were the original St. Pauls Church (1850), Melbourne Grammar (1856) Wesley College (1865), Royal Arcade (1869), Parliament Terrace (1878-87), South Melbourne Town Hall (1879), The Grand Hotel (now the Windsor Hotel) (1883-88) and The Hotel Charsfield (1889).
The Hotel Charsfield remained in the Hodgson family until the late 1920’s when it was then sold to Mrs. Frederica Solomon who re-named the house Windarra and used it as a family home, eventually the house was sold to A. M. Younger, a developer in 1931. He changed the property from a 14-room residence to a 55-room guesthouse; this was its first use as a hotel-type property. The property was leased to Elizabeth Weir who ran it as Nangunia Guest House. In 1956 after 25 years as a guesthouse, the property was purchased by the Australian Army as accommodation for members of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC), and Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC).
Michael Renzella then purchased the building by tender at the end of 1988. A major restoration was then embarked upon to restore the building to its former grandeur. This included replacement of all services (plumbing, electrical, etc) and most of the flooring with new floorboards. Substantial restoration was carried out on original period features, plasterwork, leadlight restoration etc. The works also included the addition of totally new en-suite bathrooms for all rooms, cabling for guest telecommunications, and other guest services with the intention of the property becoming an iconic boutique hotel on St. Kilda Road.
The current General Manager, Denise Miller, has continued to improve the hotel and its facilities by opening The Bar and Restaurant, redesigning and upgrading the Premier and Premier Spa rooms, incorporating the use of a professional gym as part of the offering of the hotel, and building a beauty treatment room offering facials, manicures and pedicures. The Hotel now boasts 2 conference rooms, 41 guest rooms including the Premier Spa room, a two bedroom fully equipped apartment, and 6 junior suites, and lavish public areas such as the beautifully appointed Reading Room and Snooker Room with full sized snooker table.
The Hotel Charsfield now proudly claims to be an icon of St Kilda Road that offers a unique guest experience.