Mellow Melbourne has our undying love: how can you fault a city where tip-top coffee, brilliant food, buzzing laneways, relaxed locals and sociable summers are all in a day’s work?
Here’s Mr & Mrs Smith’s guide to 48 hours in Melbourne (but if we were you, we’d delay that flight home – you’ll definitely be coming back for more).
See: The vertiginous 92-storey Eureka Tower at Southbank, Melbourne’s tallest building, offers 360-degree views of the city. For a hit of culture, visit the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, which curates edgy exhibitions. The studios of modern dance company Chunky Move are next door, with classes available if you fancy throwing some shapes. Art lovers should also make time for the National Gallery of Victoria: International on St Kilda Road, for global works, and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in Federation Square for homegrown talent. For more idiosyncratic and indigenous art, check out Flinders Lane, between Spring and Swanston Streets. If you want to breathe Melbournian life into your wardrobe, browse the lovely designer boutiques on the laneways that criss-cross the CBD. Flinders Lane is a mine of couture excellence. Also try Little Collins Street – home to Assin and Marais (edgy but exquisite pieces) and Shag (great vintage finds).
Eat: There’s no excuse to go hungry in this food-obsessed city, where you’d have to go out of your way to eat badly. Local favourites include: San Telmo for tender Argentine steak; Izakaya Den for flawless Japanese; Saint Crispin for Modern Australian and Tonka for fusion food with an Indian spin.
Drink: Head for the stars, or the blue unclouded skies at least. Melbourne does rooftop drinking like a pro, and in balmy weather there’s nowhere better than Rooftop Bar. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a movie here, too (just pull up a striped beach chair and relax, drink in hand). Pre-film, a resident DJ will be working the decks; if you get hungry, just sink your teeth into a juicy burger. Prefer coffee to cocktails? You’re in luck: the laneways bristle with capable cafés.
Play: Melbourne is renowned for its live music scene, and most nights you can catch a band for free at any one of the city’s pubs. Head up to bar-lined Brunswick Street in the boho enclave of Fitzroy and see what catches your eye. Further south, St Kilda’s Esplanade Hotel is a rock ‘n’ roll institution.
Stay: We love The Cullen for its arty rooms (a tribute to the late painter Adam Cullen and his colourful legacy), its buzzing Prahran location and its week’s worth of facilities: a nifty gym with a yoga deck, Swedish Kronan bicycles to borrow, dinky Art Series-branded Smart cars and even a hair salon, should your tresses need trimming. Don’t go home without having dumplings and duck at smart Chinese restaurant Hutong, next door.
To book any of Mr & Mrs Smith’s stylish boutique hotels, visit Mr & Mrs Smith or call the expert Travel Team on 1300 896 627. Smith guests enjoy exclusive extras at all stays.