Virtuoso Life July 2019 An Insiders’ Travel Guide: Melbourne, Australia

An Insiders’ Travel Guide: Melbourne, Australia

A Melbourne cultural institution: The National Gallery of Victoria, founded in 1861.
A Melbourne cultural institution: The National Gallery of Victoria, founded in 1861.
Covert bars, skyline views, and dreamy day trips – hoteliers and travel-industry experts show us around Australia’s coastal enclave.
While Sydney is Australia’s biggest city, Melbourne is its sophisticated sister. Located on the country’s southeastern tip, the capital of Victoria state offers a refreshing and diverse mix of cosmopolitan culture, laid-back beach escapes, and creative suburbs. A single day might find visitors shucking oysters on the beach, learning about Aboriginal culture, and sipping whiskey at a speakeasy down a hidden laneway. We asked three local hoteliers for their favorite Melbourne finds, from fine-art collections to only-in-Australia sporting experiences. There’s much to do beyond city limits too – case in point: the day-trip itineraries recommended by Virtuoso on-site tour companies based in Australia. (Your advisor can work with them to customize a trip.) Anyone who makes the long journey down under might as well see it all.
Robert Dawson.
Robert Dawson.

Park Hyatt Melbourne
Robert Dawson, General Manager

Local Bar: The Everleigh in Fitzroy is a classic cocktail bar with a wonderful ambience and great drinks – and it’s just minutes from the hotel.

Off the Beaten Path: The Little Blue Restaurant and Kiosk at the end of St Kilda Pier has panoramic views of Melbourne’s city skyline and the bay area. From the outside terrace, you can see the fairy penguin colony on the rocks below.

Melbourne’s Best New Restaurant: Matilda has the freshest local produce, and the chef cooks everything over open flames and hot coals.

City Thrills: There’s nothing like seeing the city from a hot-air balloon.

Room with a View: At the Park Hyatt, Room 1147 is a Terrace Suite with sweeping views of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the Southern Hemisphere. The terrace is almost as large as the suite, which has a fireplace in the living room.

Road Trip: Red Hill is a small rural community in the hinterland of the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour’s drive south of Melbourne. Explore wineries such as Red Hill Estate and Ten Minutes by Tractor, then have lunch at the Jackalope hotel.

Don’t Leave the Hotel Without: Taking our resident canine ambassador, Mr Walker, for an early-morning walk. A great amenity to take home is The Tales of Mr Walker, A Hotel Dog with a Nose for Adventure, which you can purchase in the lobby. Proceeds from book sales benefit local nonprofit Guide Dogs Victoria.

Travelers will find the 240-room Park Hyatt Melbourne in the Central Business District near some of the city’s most notable sights, including Fitzroy Gardens and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit.

Alfresco seafood at Little Blue Restaurant and Kiosk.
Alfresco seafood at Little Blue Restaurant and Kiosk.

Day Trip: The Great Ocean Road

“The Great Ocean Road is a popular attraction for visitors to Victoria. It winds a distance of about 150 miles from Torquay to Warrnambool, but the most scenic section is a 30-mile stretch that’s considered one of the most spectacular drives in the world. It’s not just about the scenery: Stops along the way include Bells Beach, which is the home of Australia’s surfing culture, with rugged cliffs and big waves. There’s history too: The Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet is credited with saving hundreds of ships and thousands of lives along Australia’s treacherous ‘shipwreck coast.’ There’s also the holiday town of Lorne, a great place to stop for fish-and-chips on the beach before reaching the most beautiful stretch of the drive. Monstrous cliffs rise high on one side, with blue seas on the other, all interspersed with tranquil coves and secluded beaches. There’s great wildlife-watching too: You might see wild koalas and colorful rosellas [Australian parrots] and, on occasion, dolphins and whales. The best way to take this trip is to drive from Melbourne to Port Campbell, as the road stretches along the coast, and then return on a scenic flight over the famous Twelve Apostles, the giant structures created in the water by the cliff face’s erosion.” – Sujata Raman, regional managing director, Abercrombie & Kent Australia
Cruising down the coast.
Cruising down the coast.
Photo by Alex Wise/Getty Images

Crown Hotels Melbourne
Shaun D’Cruz, Executive General Manager

Shaun D’Cruz.
Shaun D’Cruz.
Cocktail Time: Melburnians love bars that are tucked away in the city’s backstreets, and Eau de Vie is one of my favorites. The bartenders are exceptional, and you’ll feel as though you’ve stumbled across a hidden gem that takes you back to the Roaring Twenties.

Brint It Home: To most Victorians, the AFL [Australian Football League] is a religion, and that’s certainly true for my family. For me, the perfect souvenir is a red Sherrin football, as it symbolizes the history of sport in Melbourne and our love for the AFL.

Get Outside: You’ll be in awe at the Royal Botanic Gardens, which are surrounded by a 2.5-mile running track affectionately known as The Tan. Rain, hail, or shine, you’ll always find runners, joggers, and walkers enjoying the heart of Melbourne.

Explore Here: I always take out-of-towners to St Kilda, a distinctively Melbourne neighborhood with a little bit of everything: Take a walk along the foreshore, ride the roller coaster at Luna Park, visit the arts and crafts market on a Sunday morning, and finish up with a drink at the Hotel Esplanade bar, better known to locals as the Espy.

From the Crown Towers Minibar: You must try Koko Black chocolate. Handcrafted in Melbourne, the line is filled with unique and delicious flavors.

Spa Time: Our Recovering Traveller is an ideal treatment for beating jet lag. It’s tailored to every guest, so it can energize or help achieve a restful night’s sleep.

Located in Melbourne’s Central Business District, the 481-room Crown Towers Melbourne is a lavish, art-deco-inspired retreat on the Yarra River. Virtuoso travelers receive upgrade (if available) at time of booking, a welcome bottle of Australian wine, breakfast daily, and complimentary access for two to the Crystal Club lounge and the Aqua Retreat at the Crown Spa.
Sailboats in St Kilda. 
Sailboats in St Kilda. 

Day Trip: The Yarra Valley

“The Yarra Valley has always been one of my favorite regions in Australia, not only because of the wineries but because it ticks most of the boxes: food, wine, wildlife, and places to stay. It’s just over an hour’s drive from the city or 90 minutes if you want to take the scenic route. There are about 160 wineries, and more than 90 of those have a cellar door and/or a restaurant. The region is well known for its chardonnay and pinot noir, but there are also sparkling wines – Domaine Chandon has their own vineyards there – and other varietals. I love a long lunch at Oakridge Winery, with its amazing restaurant featuring floor-to-ceiling glass and wonderful views over their vineyard. The other reason for visiting the region is Australia’s finest wildlife sanctuary at Healesville. Set on 78 acres of native bush, it’s the next best thing to spotting Australian wildlife in the wild. You’ll see emus, kangaroos, koalas, elusive platypuses, dingoes, echidnas, wombats, and a huge variety of native birds. Southern World is very proud to be a sponsor for the center. You can easily spend two or three nights in Yarra Valley.” – David Armour, managing director, Southern World Australia

The Yarra Valley is home to some 160 wineries.
The Yarra Valley is home to some 160 wineries.
Photo by iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Lyall Hotel and Spa
Rowina Thomas, Hotelier 

Rowina Thomas. 
Rowina Thomas. 
Lunch Stop: Locals love Kanteen, a rustic café on the banks of the Yarra River alongside the Royal South Yarra Lawn Tennis Club. It’s easily accessible by bicycle using the path along the river.

Worth the Hype: It’s hard to beat a tour of Melbourne’s laneways and arcades. So much of the fabric of the city is found behind these anonymous doorways, where artistry and cottage industry have helped shape our identity.

Locally Made: Take home anything from Aesop, the popular plant-based, personal-care product line created in Melbourne.

Must-Visit: The National Gallery of Victoria, Australia’s oldest public art museum, is a dynamic cultural attraction.

Room with a View: Our spacious Taittinger Suite offers two furnished terraces, one of which is particularly large and provides a beautiful spot to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset over the rooftops of South Yarra.

Signature Drink: When someone orders a glass of Champagne at the Lyall Champagne Bar, we serve them a 200ml bottle of Moët & Chandon and call it a “Party for One.”

All 40 suites at this South Yarra boutique hotel have private terraces and resemble deluxe city apartments. Virtuoso travlers receive an upgrade (if available) at time of booking, breakfast daily, and a $100 spa credit.
A few of the 75,000 works of art at the National Gallery of Victoria.
A few of the 75,000 works of art at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Day Trip: Mornington Peninsula 

“A true playground for Melburnians and just an hour from the city, the Mornington Peninsula offers great food and wine, local art galleries and markets, natural hot springs and spas, championship golf, and picturesque beaches. You could spend the day touring boutique regional producers to meet makers, bakers, farmers, fishers, and growers – all the while sampling berries and cheeses, honey, olives, and more. For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, we can arrange a true estate-to-plate cooking and dining experience where you meet the owners of a local farm to forage with them in the orchards and kitchen gardens to cook up a delicious lunch. You can also go horseback riding on the beach, swim with dolphins, or snorkel with weedy sea dragons – or go on a coastal hike with a local indigenous elder. So much of what makes the peninsula special is the diversity of landscapes and experiences in such a small region, so accessible to Melbourne.” – Stuart Rigg, director, Southern Crossings Australia

Stay Longer: Extend a trip to the Mornington Peninsula with a stay at the Jackalope hotel, a modern, art-filled 45-room property set on the 28-acre Willow Creek Vineyard. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily, a $100 hotel credit, and complimentary local use of the hotel’s car service.
Mornington views. 
Mornington views. 
Photo by Julia Kuleshova/Getty Images

Popular Articles

You may also like...

|