There are few Australians that don’t appreciate the beautiful city of Melbourne, possibly Australia’s most loved and visited city destination. There is so much to like – the food, the bars, the restaurants, the beautiful parks and rooftop vistas not to mention a plethora of things to see and do close by. When my daughter was recently visiting from London we decided it was the perfect place for a mother/daughter trip with her sister. This is what we recently did for our 3 days in Melbourne. You might pick up some tips when planning your next visit.
Where we stayed
Normally I gravitate towards the latest design hotel or funky inner city pad but after trawling through a plethora of Airbnb and apartment offerings I just couldn’t find anything in our budget in a good location and with the right bedding configuration. Note to the 1 zillion apartment owners in Docklands – try getting some twin beds in some of the bedrooms !
3 is a tricky number – too few for 2 hotel rooms but often too many for one. And 3 women in a room can be cramped, especially when jostling for bathroom time. So it was a surprise to find the biggest room, in the best location and at a great price was the old favourite, Park Hyatt.
A little dated ( although quality marble and timber fittings really are timeless) with exceptional service and a stellar location we really did have a lovely time at this hotel. The rooms are massive – apparently the largest in Melbourne,with a big walk in wardrobe and huge bathroom.
There is a beautiful heated pool on the 9th floor with views looking over the city and a massive Jaccuzzi at one end. Next door is a big gym and an excellent Day Spa with attentive staff and fluffy towels.
It really reminded me how old-fashioned service is so important. Apart from a lovely room, a great location and a good price, when the (female) Concierge put me in a taxi at the end of our stay and said ” Have a great trip home Mrs Papas” it really hit home how much those personal touches mean, especially for women travelling alone. I would be inclined to stay there again just based on that single sentence.
Check rates and availability for Park Hyatt Melbourne HERE
What we did
There was a time when a trip to Melbourne was all about the shopping. Hitting the outlet stores in Richmond and exploring all the funky little boutiques in South Yarra, Prahan and Fitzroy was almost exclusively how I spent my time!
Sadly with the arrival of all the big chain stores in Australia small retailers in Melbourne are struggling just like everywhere else. Chapel st is just another high street with big brands who can afford the rents. Ditto for most of the CBD.
There is however my favourite store in the whole world – Cos, the high-end label of H & M and, as there is not yet a store in Brisbane it was my first stop. High quality, simple, structured clothing at reasonable prices.
Otherwise our shopping was largely done on Brunswick street, Fitzroy. One of the only places where you can still find cheap, unique, independent stores and its also full of great bars, cafes, florists and pop-ups.
Other good shopping areas that we didn’t get to this time include High St, Armidale, Smith Street Collingwood, South Melbourne Market and there are still some factory outlets in Richmond or DFO at South Wharf.
Groan. So much for the weight loss plan – again ! At least eating gets largely mitigated by walking in Melbourne so it’s not all bad.
We had a beautiful meal at Bottega on the first night followed by some late night polenta fries at Sligo rooftop bar in the wee hours.
Some exceptional Greek food was consumed over lunch at Alpha Ouzeri on Brunswick street. Probably the best cabbage rolls with lemon sauce I have had outside Greece. We also had an excellent Beef Kleftiko ( wrapped in paper) and a lamb and artichoke fricassee which was outstanding.
A friend had the foresight to prebook lunch at the much coveted inner city restaurant Embla and it lived up to all the amazing things I have heard. Lunch is a $50 set menu – very reasonable – and was paired with an excellent bottle of spanish red.
Dinner on our last night was at the exceptionally busy but extremely good Super Normal on Flinders Lane. A huge place packed to the brim even on a Sunday night it features a range of asian street food such as dumplings, bao and Szechuan-peppered brisket based on the owners many years living and working in China. His other ventures include Cumulus Up and Cumulus Inc which are close by.
We were especially impressed by the service. There must have been 15 staff behind the bar yet no-one missed a beat. The sommelier/beer expert gave us a background story on the drinks we ordered and his suggestions were great ( thats him with the beard). The house specialty are the lobster rolls and they are indeed amazing !
Melbourne’s always had a huge range of small bars and alley way doors that open to reveal cool little speakeasys and eccentric clubs and drinking holes. Now it has rooftop bars too !
We managed to work our way around quite a few starting at the European on Spring St, heading upstairs to Siglo for pre-dinner drinks and then down some alleys and up and down many stairs to The Butterfly club which is straight out of your grandmothers sunroom. Special thanks to an old friend who helped us find these places – it’s not easy!
There are a number of great rooftop bars. I was keen to check out the fit out of the new QT hotel and we enjoyed some really excellent cocktails at their 9th floor bar.
There are so many great day trip options around Melbourne. You can pop down to the Mornington Peninsula, out on to the Great Ocean Road or a road trip down to Phillip Island. A local friend knew I am a Gin lover and graciously offered to drive us out to the beautiful Yarra Valley, a place I have visited many times and never tire of.
Only an hour from Melbourne its an easy drive and being Autumn the scenery was even more stunning than ever.
The Gin distillery we visited was Four Pillars. I had not heard of this at all until about 4 months ago and now it seems like EVERYONE is talking about it! I was concerned my predelicition to Hendricks and cucumber would hold me back but I have to say the flight of G & T’s we tried were quite excellent.
Four Pillars is right at the entry to the beautiful village of Healesville. We’ve spent some lovely adult only, weekends in Healesville in the past and the pub is still pumping out some excellent gourmet meals.
There are over 160 fabulous wineries to visit in the Yarra, including Rochfords, De Bortoli, Coldstream Hills and St Hubert. Being time poor we only visited two this time , Dominique Portet – arguably Australia’s best Rose, and Chandon, which is always worth a visit just for the beautiful architecture and views if nothing else.
So that was our recent 3 days in Melbourne. Its always a a great place to visit and there’s never a bad time of year to do it. You always leave feeling stated, content and scheming your next visit in the taxi to the airport.
I‘d love to hear about your favourite spots and any tips you might have for my next visit. Leave a comment below !