MEJ Masthead

Escape Trails: Melbourne

Beatrice Smith

The cheeky kid sister to Sydney’s polished cosmopolitan atmosphere, Melbourne appeals to our Big City sensibilities – boisterous, delicious and just a little bit grimy with new discoveries to be made with every visit.

STAY

OVOLO LANEWAYS

Image: facebook.com/ovololanewaysmelbourne

Image: facebook.com/ovololanewaysmelbourne

If you’re here to fit as many food and drink experiences into your trip as possible, look no further than Ovolo Laneways. This discreet boutique hotel on Little Bourke Street is closer than close to many of Melbourne’s hippest restaurants and bars, making it the perfect city oasis.

The hotel’s interiors will make you feel like you’re crashing at your very cool Melbourne mate’s apartment, with colourful, spacious rooms and chic European subway tiled bathrooms. Aside from the killer location, there are perks like free wifi, rainfall showers and blackout curtains for when you inevitably need to sleep in after a big night out.

19 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD | (03) 8692 0777 | ovolohotels.com

CONVERTED CHURCH HOUSE

Image: airbnb.com.au/rooms/10317669

Image: airbnb.com.au/rooms/10317669

A “30 second walk” from Fitzroy’s Smith Street, this Air BnB property is ideal for visitors who want to feel like a local.

Palatial in size, the owners have kept the church’s dark wooden elements throughout, from the well-worn bannisters to the imposing dining room table, the only exception of which is the sleek modern kitchen. Although with legendary establishments like Huxtaburger and Bebida right next door, it’ll be hard not to head out for every meal.

Converted Church House | Fitzroy | airbnb.com.au/rooms/10317669

THE LANGHAM

Waltz into the lap of luxury at one of Melbourne’s most delightfully decadent hotels, The Langham. Located centrally in Southbank with most rooms boasting views of the Yarra River and the CBD beyond, The Langham offers a city retreat like no other. A special highlight is their famous Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood, served Monday-Friday in their Aria Bar and Lounge.

1 Southbank Avenue, Southbank | (03) 8696 8888 | langhamhotels.com

PLAY

NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA 

Image: ngv.vic.gov.au

The Viktor&Rolf exhibition. Image: ngv.vic.gov.au

A visit to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is a no-brainer for interstate visitors. Explore the NGV’s extensive permanent collection of Australian and international art and pre-purchase tickets for feature exhibitions to skip the lines. Those with an eye for fashion should visit Italian Jewels, Bulgari Style or Viktor&Rolf Fashion Artists, while lovers of celebrated artists should pop in to David Hockney Current or Masterworks from MOMA.

National Gallery of Victoria | 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne CBD | (03) 8620 2222 | ngv.vic.gov.au

ST KILDA FORESHORE

Image: instagram.com/koganm

Image: instagram.com/koganm

Melbourne is a city of contrasts, and nowhere is this more apparent than the St. Kilda boardwalk. Stretching along 5km of beach, the boardwalk is more Miami than New York, and will make you feel miles away from the CBD’s laneways. Undeniably the best time for this walk is sunset where you can grab the perfect Instagram shot of the sun setting over the Ferris Wheels of Luna Park.

Mosey your way along the boardwalk from Dickens Street to Fitzroy Street (about 2km) where you can then walk up the gentle slope and grab a drink or dinner in the throbbing heart of St. Kilda.

St Kilda Foreshore and Boardwalk, St Kilda

BIRD’S BASEMENT JAZZ CLUB

In true Melbourne style, Bird’s Basement is located in a deserted alleyway, just off William Street in the CBD. Down two flights of stairs you’ll find a jazz club which wouldn’t be out of place in NYC, possessing a velvety old school vibe with all the modern conveniences (such as a state of the art sound system).

Bird’s boasts a packed program of international Jazz superstars, and legends Ravi Coltrane, Lee Ritenour and James Carter have all graced Bird’s stage at some point. Relax at your table and allow your waiter to serve you everything from antipasto to 2006 Laurent-Perrier. Booking is highly recommended, especially for a table close to the stage.

11 Singers Lane, Melbourne CBD | 1300 225 299 | birdsbasement.com

EAT & DRINK

MADAME BRUSSELS

Image: facebook.com/Madame-Brussels-Cocktail-Bar-MELBOURNE

Image: facebook.com/Madame-Brussels-Cocktail-Bar-MELBOURNE

Entry to Madame Brussels is via a rather nondescript building on Bourke Street – just take the dingy looking stairs up to heaven (Level 3) and you’ll find yourself in a space stuck somewhere between a Hamptons’ garden party and Alice in Wonderland.

Sit on vintage lawn furniture as you’re served a jug of ‘The Madame’s Fruity Double D Cups’ or ‘Smokey Throbinson’ (no, really) or snack on a chocolate fondue with marshmallows and fresh strawberries.

In summer, ‘Madame’ really heats up, but their expansive terrace nestled in the trees and overlooking the city is provides a cool retreat.

Level 3, 59 Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD, (03) 9662 2775, madamebrussels.com

8bit  

Image: facebook.com/eat8bit

Image: facebook.com/eat8bit

A treat for the teenager in all of us, 8bit serves some of the best burgers in Melbourne. As you might imagine, 8bit’s aesthetic is all about old school video game graphics, which makes their interior the perfect blend of kitsch and casual.

There are shopfronts in the CBD but head to the back streets of Footscray to find the original. Grab an ‘8bit with Cheese’ and some chilli cheese fries and make sure you check out what the ‘Chocolate Bar Shake of the day’ is – you won’t be disappointed.

8 Droop Street, Footscray | (03) 9687 8838 | eat8bit.com.au 

THE LUI BAR

Image: facebook.com/pg/TheLuiBar

Image: facebook.com/pg/TheLuiBar

If you’re looking to impress and excite, there’s no better place to take someone than Lui Bar. This exclusive lounge shares the 55th floor of the skyscraping Rialto Towers with its sister establishment, Shannon Bennett’s Vue du Monde, and its views stretch across the city and the bay.

The capacity can be fickle so dress to impress before you approach the front desk of the Towers on the ground floor and think of them as the doorman. Once they’ve checked capacity upstairs you’ll be whisked into your own private elevator to ascend.

Once inside you’ll either be shown to a seat by the windows given a seat at the bar and put on the waitlist for the former. Don’t be intimidated by the cosmopolitan mixture of staff behind the bar, they’re as friendly as they are talented.

Choose from the extensive list of cocktails and then sit back and try not to let artist Mikala Dwyer’s breathtaking ‘chandelier’ sculpture of transparent clouds distract you from the unparalleled view.

Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD | (03) 9691 3888 | luibar.com.au

ARCHIE’S ALL DAY

Image: facebook.com/pg/archiesallday

Image: facebook.com/pg/archiesallday

Melbourne isn’t short on café culture, so when deciding where to go for breakfast or a quick coffee, it can be a little overwhelming. Luckily it’s hard to go wrong, but Archie’s All Day is a great choice if you’re looking for somewhere a cut above.

Located centrally on Gertrude Street (just up from Donut Time…) their menu is fresh, seasonal and funky. They’re famous for ‘The Godmother’ and their ‘Huevos Suclos’ (dirty eggs) but their other menu items won’t disappoint. Get in early in the morning to avoid waiting for a table.

189 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy | (03) 9417 0066 | archiesallday.com 

HIHOU

Image: facebook.com/hihou

Image: facebook.com/hihou

Hihou is like an enigma wrapped in a mystery and served warm (just like the sake it’s famous for). Firstly, find the plain black door on Flinders Lane and press the intercom. Once you’ve stated how many are in your party, you’ll be told whether they have space to accommodate you and when you’re granted entry you’ll see why it’s totally worth the somewhat unorthodox wait.

Hihou’s interior is serenely quiet, thanks to the wooden acoustic panelling, which extends to a very cool installation behind the main bar. Whether you choose to sit in the lounge area (where you have to remove your shoes upon entry) or at one of the intimate tables this is not a place for rowdy shenanigans but rather quiet discussions over an incredibly good cocktail or three.

First floor, 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD | (03) 9654 5465 | hihou.com.au

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people – sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies.

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