630 Chapel Street
Tel: 61 3 9825 2222
Visiting rock stars and celebs choose this hip property at the "river end" of the boutique-and-café-sprinkled neighborhood of South Yarra. VIPs get all of the amenities they're used to here: 24-hour room service, a penthouse fitness center (where the 25-meter, generally deserted pool is topped by a retractable roof), in-room massages, attentive service, and tighter-than-average security. The 107 stylishly outfitted rooms and suites come in 25 different floor plans. Some are geared for entertaining, with kitchens, dining areas, and French doors opening onto Japanese-style gardens; others have separate offices. All have sleek modular couches, shag rugs, entertainment systems, oversize baths, and moody lighting, as well as broadband and video-conferencing facilities. The Brasserie, a glass-walled breakfast area, is so bright you might need to wear shades—but the buffets are a great hangover cure.
8 Whiteman Street
Tel: 61 3 9292 8888
There's something pleasingly left field about this gleaming high-rise that, at 658 rooms, is Australia's largest hotel. For one, there's the eye-catching art throughout, including a color-drip mural by Australian Noël Skrzypczak and seven large chestnut-wood spheres by Korean artist Jae Lee Hyo in the lobby. This hotel reflects neither the deep-carpet ultraluxury of the Crown Towers nor the business-like restraint of the Crown Promenade, the other two properties in the glitzy Crown Entertainment Complex. The Metropol verges on funky, with a staff whose professionalism belies the casual jeans-and-hoodies uniform. Rooms are outfitted with fun retro-inspired designer furnishings and have muted color schemes. Even the standard Luxe rooms feel spacious thanks to huge windows; there's no tub, however. Step up to a Loft suite for an enormous soaking tub, a separate living space with a dining table, and (perhaps excessively) three TVs. British chef Gordon Ramsay chose the first floor for the Australian outpost of his Maze empire, but the jewel in this Crown is on the twenty-seventh floor, where the pool and spa grant panoramic views of the city and Port Phillip Bay.
164 Commercial Road
Tel: 61 3 9098 1555
Choosing the painter Adam Cullen, Australian art's angst-ridden enfant terrible, as the inspiration for The Cullen has proved a masterstroke. From the lobby's life-size Cullen-customized fiberglass cows to the array of original canvases scattered throughout this cleverly designed building, visual provocation awaits at every turn. The artist's preoccupations (the Australian psyche and the interplay between beauty and the grotesque) prove a fascinating backdrop for this compact, funky 113-suite hotel in the vibrant, Prahran district, well-placed for galleries and a short tram ride from downtown Melbourne. The hotel has two good restaurants (one Italian-Australian, the other Chinese), and the staff are unfailingly attentive, and the extra touches are artfully well-executedfrom the in-house curator who offers tours of the property's art collection to the cute artist in residence do-not-disturb signs. The first of six properties in Melbourne's planned Art Series Hotel Group, The Cullen has proved a magnet for culture-lovers as well as a novel way to put Australian contemporary artquite literallyon the map.
26 Flinders Street
Tel: 61 3 9668 1111
This red-brick Romanesque revival mansion, built in 1900, served for many decades as the headquarters of the Herald and Weekly Times, Ltd., publisher of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper the Herald Sun. Sheer floor-to-ceiling curtains, cushy couches, a fireplace, and a billiard room make the lobby feel like a bachelor's town house. The 36-seat restaurant, Felt, serves a Euro-influenced seasonal menu, with dishes such as pan-seared barramundi with savoy cabbage and lardoons in a tarragon and saffron cream sauce. The 59 rooms are minimalist-luxe, with angular wood furnishings, plush upholstery in shades of cream and brown, unadorned walls, and clubby ambient lighting. All the usual extras are supplied, plus there are free in-house movie, CD, and pillow menus. Deluxe rooms have deep bay or high-arched windows overlooking Melbourne Park, the Botanic Gardens, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Definitely worth the splurge.
495 Collins Street
Tel: 888 424 6835 (toll-free)
Tel: 61 396 209111
As face-lifts go, the $40 million spent to transform this 1891 Melbourne grand dame into a cool city chick has proved to be well spent. Today, although the five-story Rialto is dwarfed by its skyscraper neighbors, it exudes charm on the outside and class within. On the National Heritage List, it is actually two buildings (the older, gothic Rialto and the Romanesque Winfield Building) linked by a soaring glass ceiling that covers what was once a wide lane. The King suites and Deluxe rooms have all the expected mod cons, the wood-paneled roof-top pool and sauna drip with minimalist comfort, and the service is super-snappy. The real star, however, is the enormous atrium, a spectacle of light, angles, marble, mosaic, bluestone, and carefully selected local art. At its base is the Alluvial Restaurant, host to deal-making business-types and Rialto residents. Overlooking it is the Market Lane bar, with its deep leather couches and more than 100 kinds of martinis, including an antipodean array featuring everything from bloodlimes to quandongs.
Tel: 61 3 5348 3329
About 90 minutes west of Melbourne by car, the rural town of Daylesford sits atop a celebrated hot spring. Of the many lodgings that have cropped up in recent years to take advantage of these "healing waters," the best—by leaps and bounds—is the Lake House.
A major favorite among foodies, the six-acre lakefront property is centered on its restaurant, an airy space with picture windows, a wood-burning fireplace, and wall murals by co-owner Allan Wolf-Tasker. His partner and wife, Alla, oversees the kitchen, which turns out rustic, seasonally driven food showcasing the region's best and freshest. Everyone lingers at the table here, whether it's over country-style breakfasts, long lunches, languid afternoon teas, cocktails and canapés, or extravagant dinners with wines from the 750-strong list. Between meals, guests can shoot clay pigeons, take cooking classes, unwind in the spa's treetop mineral-water tubs, or browse through the galleries and new-age shops in Daylesford town. All 33 rooms and suites are elegantly appointed, with cream-colored linens, recessed lighting, and marble baths—but ask for a waterfront unit with inspiring views over the lake.
1 Southgate Avenue
Tel: 61 3 8696 8888
Part of the group that also includes the Langham London and Langham Place Hong Kong, this 387-room hotel is an outpost of old-school elegance in the otherwise flashy neighborhood of Southbank. The opulent foyer, with its sweeping marble staircase, waterfall, and glittering chandeliers, sets the genteel tone, as does the formally solicitous service. Plush guest rooms and suites have modern bells and whistles—cloudlike beds, oversize hot tubs, fluffy robes—and fabulous views over the Yarra River to the city center. Some come with special privileges such as butler service and use of the exclusive Langham Club floor (great for predinner cocktails and canapés). When they aren't exploring nearby sights like Federation Square and the Queen Victoria Gardens, guests laze about on the pool deck or indulge in herbal salt scrubs and hot-stone massages at the on-site Chuan Spa.
14 Murphy Street
Tel: 61 3 9868 8222
The all-suite Lyall opened in 2002 in Melbourne's most designer-heavy neighborhood, South Yarra, but it draws high-end travelers of every stripe. Every floor of this plush home-away-from-home has its own mini art gallery, lined with works by local French-born artist Thierry B. Fashionistas love the location, the bathrooms with no-fog mirrors, the Champagne bar, and the holistic Lyall Spa, while business types can use the tranquil library with wood-burning fireplaces, the all-day bistro, and the full-service office/lounge. Everyone appreciates the well-appointed suites, whose gold-toned soft furnishings are as luxurious as the in-room amenities (private balconies, DVD players, and Wi-Fi). Some rooms offer spa baths, laundry facilities, and full kitchens. The latter could be useful, since this leafy neighborhood, roughly equidistant from St. Kilda and the City Centre, is home to superior delis and bottle shops.
637–641 Chapel Street
Tel: 61 3 9040 1222
The second and largest of three artist-themed digs from Art Series Hotels, the 229-room Olsen is also the most aesthetically accessible, standing firmly between the bad-boy boldness of The Cullen (Hot List 2010) and the garden-party whimsy of The Blackman. The colorful abstracts of Australian artist Dr. John Olsen include the striking 18-foot-long Yellow Sun over the Yarra in the foyer (guest rooms have reproductions, except for the Penthouse). Room design is appropriately serene against Olsen's strong creative statements: a pale champagne and silver palette, contemporary furnishings, and beds you hate to get out of. One of Olsen's signature images, the tree frog, is etched onto the translucent bathroom wall, and a chocolate frog adorns pillows at turndown. Built on fashionable Chapel Street, the Olsen contributes its share of fun to the hip suburb of South Yarraa sundeck and glass-bottom pool that hang over the street; and two fine restaurants, one Brazilian-inspired, the other Mediterranean.
1 Parliament Square
Tel: 61 3 9224 1234
The city's most luxurious large hotel, the 240-room Park Hyatt, really is on a park—Fitzroy Gardens—just opposite St. Patrick's Cathedral and a stroll from the city center. The towering building allows for extra-large rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, some opening onto balconies. Even the modest units (Park kings or twins) are 500-plus square feet, with marble bathrooms with TVs and deep tubs, walk-in closets, and, in some, gas fireplaces. All are done up in a palette of beiges and taupes, with Madroña wood paneling and modern takes on Art Deco furnishings. The signature restaurant, Radii, has cascading staircases, polished wood, and gleaming chrome in a brasher rendition of the Deco theme. Forget the brassy decor and focus on the menu, a mix of Mediterranean-Antipodean dishes like smoked ocean trout with king prawn rémoulade, avocado, capers, and quail eggs. The Tea Lounge, which overlooks the lobby and Tuscan-inspired gardens, provides a mellower dining alternative.
2 Acland Street
Tel: 61 9536 1111
The Prince has not one but multiple watering holes, the better to serve its über-hip, night-owl clientele. There's the pub-style Prince of Wales Bar; the Prince Band Room, with live acts most nights; and the boho-luxe Mink, where you can order decadent cocktails, assorted vodkas, and a diverse array of platter food. There's also the fantastic bakery-café Il Fornaio; a well-stocked wine shop; a Mod-Oz restaurant, Circa, with its own bar—oh, and 40 rooms. Enter the tall lobby, awash in Schiaparelli-pink light, climb the glossy black staircase to black-painted hallways, and prepare for a surprise: Behind the chocolate-brown doors lie sunny, comfortable rooms. The decor pairs brown mohair-and-angora-blend blankets with crisp white sheets, abstract art and Arne Jacobsen chairs, and wooden towel ladders in spare, slate bathrooms. Spring for a superior room or premier suite, which have boxy balconies overlooking the foot traffic on Acland Street. Otherwise, you can people-watch from the deck adjoining the hotel's pool and day spa.
630 Little Collins Street
Tel: 61 3 9622 8888
In 2005, the hip Vibe chain carved their fifth Australian property from the 162-room Savoy Park Plaza, a tired workhorse built in 1929. The hotel caters to youthful business travelers by offering big-hotel amenities at a lower price point. Funky, soft chairs in fire-engine red and lime green help sex up the faded Deco decor in the lobby bar. Guest rooms feel similarly bold, with their red pillows set on black-and-white striped duvets. Rooms have many of the appointments found at pricier establishments: cable and pay TV, fast Internet, safes, bathrobes, minibars, and room service. The spacious suites have separate lounge-dining areas. Vibe Savoy is conveniently located opposite the city's long-distance rail/bus station, a stroll from Docklands and Southbank.
205 Collins Street
Tel: 61 3 9635 2222
Well-oiled wheels are set in motion the moment you enter this slick property, where sculptural pendant lights hang from the lobby ceiling and soaring windows look out over the bustle of Melbourne's business district. Courteous staffers sweep you through an express check-in service (which truly merits the name; the process takes just a few minutes) and then escort you to your spacious, streamlined guest quarters. All 262 rooms and suites are outfitted with minimalist wood furnishings, cream-colored fabrics, and bathrooms with double basins and rainfall showerheads. The rooms are some of the largest in the city, ranging from almost 400 to 1,000 square feet. The hotel's common areas—including the Allegro restaurant, a low-lit martini lounge, and a fireside tea "library"—all share the Zen-posh aesthetic. Health is taken seriously here: The fitness room has state-of-the-art weight and cardio machines, and the Wellness Spa has an indoor lap pool, sauna, and steam room.