6 Melbourne hotels for 6 types of travelers
Melbourne is a town of diversity and individualism, from highbrow to lowbrow, high end to low end, High Street Armadale to Low Street, err, Tungamah.
The point is, whatever the tribe, vibe or stomping ground, there’s a Melbourne hotel to reflect it.
And yes, there are even country hotels that do the same.
Here are six for a southern journey, whether you're a bohemian, businessman, barfly, hedonist -- or even a Sydneysider.
Design darlings at The Bloomfield Hotel
Old mansions make cool hotels. So, apparently, do old nightclub folk.
The owners of the Bloomfield are only “old” in the sense that they once haunted Melbourne’s club scene, but that life is far behind them.
The mansion they call the Bloomfield Hotel is old in the other sense -- a splendid Victorian pile with rambling hallways, creaking stairs, balconies and a hodgepodge of room shapes and sizes.
The signature is late twentieth-century glam, with photo portraiture of Studio 54 types, the European jet set and supermodels gracing everything from hallways to headboards. Furnishings are funky and staff is cheery and accommodating, as are prices.
The location’s a cracker as well. Smack dab on Toorak Road opposite the sprawling Fawkner Park, the Number 8 tram rumbles by to Chapel Street in one direction, the city in the other.
Vibe: French nightclub chic
The Bloomfield Hotel, 1 Millswyn St., South Yarra, +61 (0)3 9866 4485, www.bloomfieldgroup.com.au
Actors and barflies at Hotel Urban
The Urban brand is simple, functional fun. Rooms are bright and breezy, as is staff.
The life that bustles along is a vibrant mix of business, creative and party people come and go, part of the endless activity that makes Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, one of the great parades of humanity at all its levels of sobriety, decency and cognizance.
As mad as things get on Fitzroy Street, however, the rooms of the Urban are quiet and restful.
There’s a rooftop sunbathing deck and downstairs two dining and drinking holes.
Suger is a café and bar with al fresco seating on Fitzroy Street and a cozy, dimly lit space for indoor stuff, while the Curious Restaurant is becoming of food enquirers.
The Urban also includes complimentary access to the nearby St Kilda Sea Baths at the South Pacific Health Club, as well as the hotel’s own gym on the premises. Throw in free Internet on the lobby's computers and in-room wireless and you're connected to that bay-side vibe.
Vibe: Rock 'n' roll casual
Hotel Urban, 35-37 Fitzroy St., St Kilda, +61 (0)3 8530 8888, www.hotelurban.com.au
Gay mates and Sydneysiders at The Cullen Hotel
Daring, bold and boutique in the middle of gay and happening Prahran, The Cullen is just "fabulous darlin'" (as a Sydneysider would say).
It's been inspired by the bad boy of contemporary art, Adam Cullen, whose infamous Ned Kelly series adorns the 119-room hotel. An in-house curator takes guests on a tour of the works.
If you don't want to stay in your deco suite watching the art channel or cooking up a gray cloud in the kitchenette, smart cars and bicycles await for you downstairs to see the lay of the land.
But it's in the heart of Prahran, with eclectic clubs and gourmet dining at your doorstep.
The Cullen Hotel, 164 Commercial Rd., Prahran, +61 (0)3 9098 1555, www.artserieshotels.com.au/cullen
Foodies and pleasure seekers at Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat
One of the characteristics that make Melbourne such a great city is its proximity to some brilliant getaway options. The Yarra Valley is an hour one way, the Mornington Peninsula not much more and then there’s the Daylesford area -- Victoria's capital of organic living.
Hepburn Springs is there -- a picturesque health retreat renowned for restorative mineral waters.
Once the domain of European immigrants following the traditional holiday plans of the old country, it’s been gentrified, spa-ified and food-ified. Indulgence is the name of the game here.
Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat has the best of the region -- a highly regarded chef in the restaurant, as well as romantic rooms and a lovely spa.
Vibe: Luxury country retreat
Budget: Five-star getaway
Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, 127 Main Road, Hepburn Springs, +61 (0)3 5348 2100, www.peppers.com.au/springs
Black-tie brigade at Sofitel Melbourne
The genius that originally built a hotel high in office towers at the Paris end of Collins Street should have a statue dedicated to him or her.
This is quite a location with views extending to the bay, the mountains and on a clear day, you can probably see forever.
Originally the Regent -- now the Sofitel -- the high-rise hotel is simply outstanding, resplendent in the attention to detail for which Sofitel is famous.
On weekends, its magnificent function rooms are awash with bridesmaids and debutantes.
But just a short walk through the parkland to the Mecca of footy, the MCG, it's oh so Melbourne in winter, when its public areas are given over to out-of-staters in AFL colors.
Suites are super-large, there are espresso machines in rooms and for many, there’s floor-to-ceiling vantages of the ‘G itself.
Vibe: Weddings, parties, anything
Sofitel Melbourne, 25 Collins St., Melbourne, +61 (0)3 9653 7744, www.sofitel.com/melbourne
Silver tails and executives at Intercontinental Melbourne, The Rialto
An AU$60 million dollar makeover taking 18 months restored this 1891 National Trust-classified pair of buildings into a fabulous mix of heritage and hotness. Since opening in late 2008, it’s become a firm Melbourne favorite.
It's strewn with gothic structural confections such as stained glass, wrought iron balustrades, fairytale towers and gargoyles. These meld seamlessly with designer Joseph Pang’s electric blue-lit modernity in bars and restaurants.
The rooms are as whimsical as they are sexy, as classic as they are cutting edge, but above all, workable and supremely comfortable.
This is a world-class destination hotel.
Vibe: Business glam
Intercontinental Melbourne, The Rialto, 495 Collins St., City, +61 3 8627 1400 www.intercontinental.com