Why I loathe (and love) Melbourne
Melbourne is the effortlessly chic and totally likable girl in a group. You know the one. She’s fashion forward without being a style snob. You can take her to a live gig and hang out in the front row, then she’ll put on some heels and head out for high tea the next day. Everyone wants to go to her parties (or have her at theirs).
In fact, she’s so amazing she manages to charm her way into your boyfriend’s life (gasp!) and ultimately—steals your BFF (oh no she di’int!). It’s true. Melbourne stole my best friend. I hate “her” a little for that… yet I still love her.
1. The food is fab
Melbourne has taught me that vodka and tapas are the perfect companions (just pay a visit to Naked for Satan) and that there’s no such thing as ‘too many’ Italian restaurants.
I like to eat somewhere new every time I’m in Melbourne so when my BFF told me about MasterChef’s George Colombaris’ restaurant Hellenic Republic, I asked her to lock in a reservation ASAP.
Dining at Hellenic Republic is like having a gathering with your extended family (the ones you actually like). It’s loud and it’s busy but you really don’t care because the food is delish and plentiful.
Everything from the welcome to our last spoonful of risogalo was brilliant. We came close to a minor mishap when we selected a bottle of wine that we thought would be sweeter; but thanks to our super helpful waitress, Emmie, we ended up enjoying our vino as much as our nosh.
|Hot tip: Hellenic Republic is super popular so it pays to make a reservation at least a couple of weeks in advance.|
I really wish someone would figure out how to transmit smell and taste through the internet so you could share in our Trapezi menu.
2. There are some swish places to call it a night
From the elegance of the historic Hotel Windsor to the uber cool Ovolo Hotel, the range of wow-worthy properties in Melbourne makes planning a trip here all the more exciting.
Crown Metropol Melbourne has been on my hotel hot list since it opened in 2010. Treating myself to a couple of nights there (rather than mooching off my BFF) has left me pining for the luxe life.
|Fast fact: A glass of Hennessy Ellipse cognac will set you back $600 at ‘28’. But that’s only a fraction of the cost of the world’s most expensive cocktail, which was served up at Club 23 in Crown Towers.|
3. The shopping (so cliché but so true)
Whether you’re looking for some custom made glasses, unique homewares, or a pair of to die for shoes – Melbourne has it. My usual mission is to bag a bargain and I’m sorry Brisbane, but our outlet stores have nothing on Bridge Road or Melbourne’s DFOs.
And guess what. If you don’t have a shopaholic Melburnian to show you where to drop your dosh, you can take a Full Day Melbourne Outlet Shopping Tour with transport, lunch and a tour guide included.
|Hot tip: Hit Richmond Hill Café & Larder after your hard day’s shopping. Order a bite to eat and maybe a beverage (or two) and while you wait, check out their Cheese Room.|
4. It’s the gateway to Victoria’s Spa Country
Day spas. They’re one of the few places where it’s legit to be lazy in the name of relaxation and in this part of Australia they mingle with cute cafes, wineries and boutiques. The neighbouring towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs in particular are superb detox/retox destinations.
|Fast fact: Drive time from the CBD or Airport to Daylesford = 1½ hours. An indulgent day trip can definitely be scheduled into your Melbourne escape.|
I recommend you start off with breakfast. KouKla, in Daylesford, is part of the iconic Frangos & Frangos building which also offers stylish boutique accommodation. The mismatched furnishings, wood fired oven and homely atmosphere entices you to settle in and enjoy your surroundings as well as your meal.
A visit to Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa is a fab choice if you love a massage and like to top off your pamper sesh with some water therapy. We booked in for the ultimate package that included all of this:
Entry into The Sanctuary (think spa couches, an aromatherapy steam room, salt therapy floatation pool and monsoon showers)
Entry into the main Bathhouse (bathe in natural mineral water in the relaxation pool or spa pool)
60 minute massage OR facial
Lunch at Pavilion Café
A spa gift
|Before you go: Take a sip of the natural soda water from the fountain near the Café. It’s totes amazeballs.|
I subconsciously yawn whenever I think about how relaxing the bathhouse experience is. You’ll probably be lightheaded (in a good way), but you really need to snap yourself out of it and check out the shops in Daylesford. My faves are Brick Lane Bazaar, Harry and Me and Lark.
Something to add? Tell us in the comments below… What’s your favourite thing about Melbourne?