With its muttering retreats, thriving market squares and culture round every corner, London is one of the most charming and captivating cities on the planet
The Debonair guide to the best places to sleep, eat, drink and explore in the Australian city
Known as Australia’s trendy, complex and food-obsessed city, the diverse metropolis of Melbourne is a treasure trove of art, food, coffee, music and fashion — a place that has flourished under the Down Under creative community that has shaped this complex city into an urban utopia.
Read on for hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as thing to experience in and around the city.
Where to stay
19 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Concept: Inspired by Melbourne’s hidden laneways and iconic street art, Ovolo Laneways is a modern design den, screaming style and laid-back leisure.
Firmly representing the millennial and Gen Z, this place is not run like a normal hotel — in fact it is more like a home, complete with do-it-yourself services, funky food and abstract artwork. Mimicking the vibrant street art and funky culture, Laneways has reimagined the urban canvas of Melbourne and personalised it with Ovolo’s signature design quirks.
Details: Situated at the top end of Little Bourke Street, the hotel is a stone’s throw from the best Melbourne has to offer. Its prime location means you can intimately enjoy the artistic soul of one of Australia’s greatest and most vibrant cities and then retreat back to urban bliss at Ovolo Laneways.
Each of the 42 rooms has been carefully designed to reflect the culture and spirit of the surrounding area. Absolute comfort and effortless living form the basis of every room, suiting the needs of business and leisure travellers alike. Each room offers a flat-screen LED television, an iPad Mini and Ovolo’s signature freebies — high-speed Wi-Fi, mini bar and self-serve laundry. When you book direct, you can also take advantage of free breakfast and social happy hour — a bonus we’re always happy about.
205 Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Concept: Whether you are travelling for business or leisure, the 262-room Westin hotel in the heart of Melbourne is the perfect place to see the city from. It may be a city hotel but that doesn’t stop this personable property from carrying all the artist traits that Melbourne has become known for.
The property was designed jointly by Robert Peck von Hartel Trethowan and Desmond Brooks International, who played a part in the reinstatement of Regent Place — a former laneway that traversed the site from Collins Street to Flinders Lane. Regent Place now marries a blue cobblestone pathway, a grand colonnaded entrance, giant bronze sculptures and atrium with a visual archway from Collins Street to Flinders Lane and down to Federation Square. On the inside, curator John Buckley worked closely with the hotel’s interior designer, Sue Carr of Carr Design, to ensure the artworks conveyed a sense of the city’s style and elegance. They wanted hotel guests, who may only enjoy a fleeting visit to the city, to immediately gain an impression of quintessential Melbourne by simply being in the hotel.
Details: With a coveted Collins Street address in Melbourne’s Central Business District, The Westin has it all. Not only is it in close proximity to the main business hub, a haven of shops, the tram and metros as well as the airport, it also boasts excellent wellness facilities, a swimming pool, spa plus a popular restaurant and lounge, serving from day to night.
At Allegro, dine on the private terrace for an al fresco experience while enjoying their extensive menu. In the lobby, meanwhile, you can experience high tea, a long-established Westin tradition that’s been reimagined to complement the city.
Above, each guest room and suite features Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed, a separate bathtub and shower, a generous work desk, iPod docking station, 42-inch LCD TV and more. Some suites also offer Juliette balconies complete with stunning city views.
435 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, VIC 3205
Concept: This is probably one of the only times you’ll hear us say copper is better than gold, but in the case of Melbourne-born Coppersmith, this statement could not be truer. From copper accents to copper taps and everything in-between, this statement hotel represents its namesake down to a tee.
An architecturally designed boutique hotel with a bistro, bar and rooftop retreat, the urban oasis has 15 rooms, each displaying minimalist design with a focus on the utmost comfort. Designed by internationally renowned Hassell Worldwide with interior input from Ross Gardam, Oak & Elm and Jardan, the mix of freestanding furniture and custom-made pieces makes this hotel unique, while the simple palette and clever material layering allows for historical features to remain part of the design.
Details: Just minutes from the CBD in South Melbourne and a stone’s throw from Albert Park Lake and the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Coppersmith is surrounded by some of the best international and local boutiques, restaurants and galleries. With the tram on its doorstep, the city is easily accessible, allowing you to feel like you’re in the heart of the city without compromising on a little R&R.
Guest rooms are full of modern amenities and feature Nespresso coffee machines, recordable Foxtel (Down Under’s version of Sky TV), free Wi-Fi, and Appelles Black Label bathroom products. You also have the ability to customise your mini bar upon booking.
The hotel is also home to an utterly delicious restaurant that focuses on seasonal local produce and traditional techniques, while the bar showcases 17 different brews and roster of fantastic wines and champagnes. On a hot day or balmy night, take advantage of the rooftop deck with its green living wall and sparkling fairy lights.
Finding a restaurant in Melbourne can be tricky with many hidden out-of-sight down alleyways or behind inconspicuous doors. This rule doesn’t apply for Attica — you couldn’t miss this gem in a line-up.
A table at here does not come easily or easy on the pocket, but the experience is definitely one-of-a-kind. Expect dishes full of beautiful, rare and unique ingredients, plated so pretty it’s almost too good to eat. And with the menu consistently changing depending on what the chef can get his hands on, no visit is ever the same. We suggest you boo in advance.
Sushi is the story here but this is not your bog-standard sushi experience. With three levels of dining excellence including a sushi counter and chef’s table, Kisumé showcases Japanese cuisine with an Australian twist, producing a menu that is both familiar yet unknown.
It’s not only the food that’s cool — the emotive artwork that captivates from the walls adds to the whole Kisumé experience.
Dining here takes patience, but like most things with this requirement it is well worth the effort. Every evening starts with at least a 20-minute wait (even at 5.30pm!). However, once inside the social space, the mix of music, art and craft cocktails will instantly get you in the mood.
The food is not only impressive but also reasonably priced — confirming why this Thai eatery is one of Melbourne’s most successful restaurants.
WHERE TO DRINK
Bomba Rooftop Bar
Seriously Spanish with impressive views, Bomba is perfect for every occasion. It boasts a 15-item tapas menu, 30 bottled beers and an adventurous cocktail list featuring local and international vermouth, gin, rum and whiskey. Having recently re-opened after a hefty renovation, the small space with impressive city views to the north and south now has a 120-person standing capacity, including a fully convertible terrace with retractable roof and drop-down windows, perfect for the multiple weather conditions that Melbourne experiences throughout the year.
This (quite literal) hidden gem is not easy to find — apart from a small logo tucked into a corner of the perforated glass entrance. The 40-seat space is quaint and features low lighting and white marble countertops, and is decorated with coloured bottles. The cocktails are creative, just like this secret bar and the wine list is as impressive as the glass-encased wall it’s stored in. The snacks are top-shelve too; we recommend the smoked eel parfait and the midnight spaghetti.
Celebrating the more manly things in life, Boilermaker House pays homage to tap and bottled beer, but also boasts a remarkable 900 whiskies. With a limitless flavour profile ready to be explored, each patron’s glass or brew is accompanied by a small taste of cheese or meat to enhance the flavours that bind and juxtapose the pair. The service is faultless and the setting unique, making this a must-visit for beer and whisky lovers.
Road trip along the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles
With striking scenery and diverse landscapes, the Great Ocean Road past the 12 Apostles is one of the world’s most scenic coastal routes. Extending from Torquay in the east to Warrnambool in the west, witness the raw beauty of huge cliffs, towering rock stacks and raging surf. You can also cool off in tranquil bays and sandy beaches and explore lush rainforests and the small resort towns dotted along the way. Offering an overwhelming abundance of beauty, this route is also famous for its Aussie wildlife, including the koala, native parrot and the kookaburra. Day trips are bookable through most travel agents.
Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens
Perfectly placed next to Flinders Street train station, this green space provides the perfect escape from the humdrum of the city. Highlights include the children’s garden, an ornamental lake, Guilfoyle’s “volcano” and the Oak lawn, among many more themed gardens. There is also a café where you can replenish your energy.
Catch a footy game
There are many things that make life Down Under different, but none quite as defiant as their football. Combining the physicality of rugby with the skill of football, Australian Rules Football is more like a game of Quidditch (without the brooms, of course) than the beautiful game as we know it. That being said, watching one of these wholly confusing games in Melbourne’s Cricket Ground is definitely a bucket list moment. The 100,000-plus capacity makes it not only the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere but also one of the most electric in terms of atmosphere.
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