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The business districts in some cities are about as exciting as a trip to the dentist. The CBD in Melbourne is not one of them. From snapping photos of murals on Hosier Lane to grabbing lunch at Queen Victoria Market, this is one of the most vibrant districts in the city. Explore Australia’s cultural centre from these top hotels – now bookable with Culture Trip.
Bordered roughly by the Yarra River to the south, Spencer Street to the west, Victoria Street to the north and Spring Street to the east, Melbourne’s compact city centre is where visitors spend most of their time. Go shopping in the arcades, sip on cocktails in hideaway speakeasies, and get lost down labyrinthine alleyways. It’s also where you will find most of the hotels in Melbourne, from stately old dames to artsy boutique properties that break with tradition.
Much like Melbourne itself, the QT (a former cinema) features a combination of different influences – the old and the new, the grungy and the refined, the cool and the classy. There’s a sculpture of a peacock at reception, street art on the walls, and you’ll giggle at one-liners delivered by the talking elevator. This Russell Street address is shared by Tanto, the pre-eminent Japanese knife store in the city. This all creates one of the hottest boutique hotels in Melbourne. The 188 industrial-chic rooms are fitted with cool polished concrete and warm timber flooring, while the dining options – the Rooftop at QT bar, the upscale Pascale Bar and Grill, and the Cake Shop for dessert – are also a treat.
Sitting next door to the Princess Theatre on the eastern edge of the CBD, the so-called Duchess of Spring Street is accustomed to accommodating royalty, from King George VI to the Queen of Hollywood, Meryl Streep. The last surviving grand hotel from the 19th century in Australia, the Windsor’s 180 old-fashioned rooms are a time capsule of the era in which they were created, thanks to the period decor and 3.7m (12ft) ceilings. The afternoon tea is another tradition dating all the way back to 1883, cementing its reputation as Melbourne’s finest high tea.
The words budget and boutique are often mutually exclusive in city-centre locations. That’s not the case at this trail-blazing hotel on William Street, across the road from Flagstaff Gardens. The Jazz Corner Hotel opened above live-music venue Bird’s Basement in 2017, offering a range of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments – each themed after the great legends of jazz, with album covers, instruments and musical memorabilia papering the walls. A stay isn’t complete without an Italian dinner at Bird’s Upstairs before a gig at Bird’s Basement, the 200-seat jazz bar that’s the sister venue of the renowned New York institution Birdland.
This five-star Flinders Street favourite had a long, winding biography before becoming a hotel in 1999. Originally constructed as a salesroom for the Griffiths Brothers tea merchants in the early 1900s, this striking red-brick Romanesque Revival building then welcomed newspaper offices and a pool hall later in the century – picking up its moniker from champion snooker player Walter Lindrum at the time. Today, the Lindrum has added 59 intimate rooms and suites to the original building, while retaining subtle nods to the landmark’s past life in the intimate Back Bar and Billiard Room, as well as the contemporary Australian restaurant, Felt.
This youthful hotel has been inspired by the laneways for which the CBD in Melbourne is famous, decorating the walls of its 42 guest rooms with the sort of street art that illuminates the city’s urban landscape. Ovolo’s “eff the rules” mantra captures the rule-breaking vibe of this Little Bourke Street location, which offers a long list of freebies that are sure to agree with budget travellers: free takeaway breakfast, free snacks and sweets, free Apple TV, free laundry and – best of all – free drinks at the lobby bar during happy hour. Cheers to that.
Notel is the coolest caravan park in Australia. A far cry from the daggy trailer parks you’ll find in far-flung corners of Australia, these six stylish airstreams are situated smack bang in the centre of the CBD, with city views that capitalise on the enviable Flinders Lane location. Opened on the rooftop of a non-descript car park in 2016, this collection of chrome caravans immediately made a splash, thanks to Notel’s prime location and futuristic fit-out – Fitzroy architects Edwards Moore designed the dazzling pink interiors of the surprisingly spacious vintage campers.
Most hotels in the CBD in Melbourne are found around Flinders Street, but further north on Elizabeth Street lies one of the most affordable options in the centre of the city. The Jasper Hotel features 90 bright and contemporary rooms centred on a sun-drenched central courtyard. The hotel offers some of the best value in the CBD, without compromising on quality. This former YWCA property benefitted from a $7 million facelift in 2014, which dragged the Jasper into the 21st century with modern details including hanging lights and a vertical garden in the courtyard. The all-day eatery makes the most of the farm-fresh ingredients coming straight from the Queen Victoria Market next door.
The Savoy’s 163 rooms look like they’ve been lifted from The Great Gatsby, but this hotel dates back further than the Roaring Twenties. This three-level Victorian masterpiece began life as Alexander’s Family Hotel in 1866 before an American-inspired Art Deco revamp in 1926 unveiled the first hotel ensuite bathrooms in the country. Today, it boasts a lavish refurb from award-winning architects Woods Bagot. Think chequerboard bathroom tiles and period plasterwork, plus chandeliers and marble galore at the reception. Sitting on the corner of Little Collins and Spencer Streets, opposite Southern Cross Station, the Savoy’s speakeasy-style Alexander Bar pays tribute to the original owners.
Welcome to the world’s premier dessert-themed hotel. Acclaimed Melbourne interior design firm Hachem gave this old textiles warehouse a whimsical head-to-toe makeover, adding a sweet streak throughout the Adelphi’s 34 confectionery-themed rooms. That means cherry-inspired lamps, marshmallow-soft beds and stools shaped like Liquorice Allsorts. Of course, a hotel of such a theme demands spectacular food, which is provided by Om Nom Kitchen downstairs. Work off all that sugar at the rooftop pool, which is towering above Flinders Lane below.
The Venetian Gothic façade, brimming with stained-glass windows, European gargoyles and elaborate brickwork, is an entrée to the luxury you’ll enjoy inside the Intercontinental’s 253 five-star rooms and suites. Situated on Collins Street in the shadow of the soaring Rialto Towers, the landmark Rialto building began as a wool store in 1891. Back then, Melbourne was still awash with the riches of the Gold Rush – the era that inspired the name of Alluvial, the upscale Mediterranean restaurant at the InterContinental’s that is flooded with natural light thanks to the property’s nine-storey glass atrium.
Nina Zietman contributed additional reporting to this article.