Melbourne was a village barely two years old when the site that is now Como was used as a cattle run. In 1847 Sir Edward Eyre Williams, an English-Australian lawyer, politician and later Judge of the first Supreme Court of Victoria purchased land extending from the Yarra River to Toorak Road.
He had a four roomed residence with separate kitchen built and named it 'Como' after the Italian Lake Como where he had proposed to his wife Jessie.
In 1852 Williams sold Como, with its "noble frontage to the River Yarra," and "most commanding views of the surrounding country that could be desired" to Frederick Dalgety, owner of a firm providing supplies to wool, gold and settlers' trades. The property and land changed hands a few more times before being subdivided in 1909.
In the 1950’s a few European chefs developed fine dining restaurants, such as Maxim’s, at a time when licensed restaurants were rare in suburban Melbourne. Maxim’s was opened in the former Duke of Edinburgh Hotel in South Yarra in 1957, becoming a leading restaurant for Melbourne ‘society’, before moving to The Como Hotel when it opened its doors in 1989.
In mid-1981, the Jack Chia Group began buying up the land bounded by Chapel Street, Toorak Road, River Street and Alexandra Avenue. Virtually the entire block had been acquired by the company by mid-1985. The initial proposal was to build 571 apartments, a 300-room hotel, 14,300 square metres of office space, 2600 square metres of retail space, a recreation and leisure centre and about 1500 car parking spaces. The project was once dubbed 'Little Venice', due to one proposal to have canals leading into the site from the Yarra River. There were lengthy appeals to the various planning bodies.
The project was planned to be completed in stages. Chia ran out of money after starting stage one, and the site changed hands many times in the intervening years.
The Como Hotel opened its doors in 1989 and has welcomed an array of international celebrities through its famed doors