THE TRAVEL PLAN
Melbourne is known for being a fabulous mishmash of gastronomic pleasures, sports, and arts and culture of every kind, and we were keen to lap up as much of it as we could whilst there. On the list of things to do was exploring the fabled laneways of the city and discovering cool graffiti, cafes, and shops. After all, you know how much The Caviar Spoon enjoys unearthing hidden gems and treats off the beaten path!
When it came to accommodations, we asked friends and contacts for their recommendations and the one that really drew us was The Langham Hotel. The area of Daylesford also kept popping up time and time again when we mentioned Melbourne. It turned out to be a non-compromise stopover so we made the plans to drive the 90 minutes outside of the city for a luxurious countryside retreat.
For places to eat, we immediately turned to friend and world-class Chef Greg Malouf for his recommendations.
He rattled off a number of places and we quickly made arrangements to visit Cumulus Inc. (with the amazing Chef Andrew McConnell!), Estelle by Scott Pickett (and a chat with the chef), and Matteo’s (to meet the charismatic restaurateur and owner Matteo Pignatelli).
Without further ado, here’s our four-night guide to the pillows (where to stay), purity (where to chill), and plates (where to eat) of Melbourne and beyond to help you get started on your trip of indulgence!
If you’re keen on roaming around Oz a bit more, hop on a plane (we like Virgin Air) and head over to Brisbane and Byron Bay. Our four-night travel guides for each place will have you soaking up cool urban vibes and laying out the path to chill downtime on the beach and beyond.
TRAVELLING TO AUSTRALIA: ESSENTIAL INFO
Everyone, except New Zealanders, needs a visa to enter Australia. Check out www.immi.gov.au
Best Time To Go:
Australia is lucky to have gorgeous weather year-round but for optimal galavanting, try the shoulder seasons of March-May and September-November. Northern Hemisphere travellers may well enjoy visiting in December for a summertime Christmas.
Average Flight Time:
13 hours (Dubai to Melbourne, nonstop)
They drive on the left here
A sprawling, gleaming metropolis on the outside, there’s also an underlying unique vibe in Melbourne that reveals hidden laneways and under-the-radar shops and cafes just waiting to be discovered. It’s a hip city full of food and funkiness and although the weather isn’t exactly fabulous, it’s still more than awesome.
What To Pack:
If you’re following our travel plan and stopped in Brisbane first, then you have everything you need. There’s plenty of exploring and walking to do (the Laneways!) so comfortable shoes are a must. Dress it up a bit in the evening since you’re likely going to be dining at one of the many fine restaurants in this city!
MELBOURNE & BEYOND: WHERE TO STAY
Lake House Daylesford
Owned by renowned Chef Alla Wolf-Tasker and equally credible artist husband Allan Wolf-Tasker, the Lake House Daylesford is a luxury retreat known for food, wine, and wellness, and being an idyllic city escape. The phenomenal decor and design (brilliantly put together by daughter and branding genius Larissa Wolf-Tasker) subtly hint that this is a true, high-end boutique-style hotel. The rooms and suites are luxurious and comfy but for a truly memorable stay, spring for one of the Retreats with a private entrance, butler service, and spa treatment room. Don’t miss out on the restaurant where the menus are fresh and innovative and the dining crowd is made up of well-heeled guests and locals alike.
For our full review, click here.
The Langham Melbourne
Recently voted number two hotel in Australia and New Zealand in Condé Nast Traveller’s Reader’s Choice Awards, The Langham Melbourne hotel is iconic, slightly intimidating, yet completely gracious. Conveniently located on the South Bank area of Melbourne, it’s the only hotel with outdoor terraces and balconies in some of the rooms and within walking distance to plenty of neighbourhoods and attractions. The décor is reminiscent of what you might embrace in a quintessential country estate in the UK, with plush carpets and elegant furniture that you know cost a pretty penny but remains label-less. If it’s in your budget, go ahead and spring for one of the Executive Rooms that comes with access to The Langham Club. The perks, especially the spot-on butler service, practically pay for themselves.
For our full review, click here.
WHERE TO CHILL
Chuan Spa at The Langham Melbourne
Although I didn’t get the chance to stop in here this time around, I have been before. Just to make sure, though, I also asked a group of trusted friends who have visited the spa and received enthusiastic recommendations and reviews all around. (It was named ‘Top Hotel Spa’ in Travel + Leisure’s reader survey, after all!). One of the treatments that’s getting a lot of buzz these days is the Chuan Heavenly Jing Luo 90-minute foot treatment. It apparently promotes sleep and restoration, along with draining fluid, and seems ideal for us travellers who jump off the plane with unattractive swollen feet!
Ducking into the laneways that weave throughout the city may not seem like “purity” at first but hear us out. There’s something magical and soothing about discovering all of the quirks and gems of these backstreets, from the graffiti by young artists decorating the walls along ACDC Lane and Centre Place, to fabulous cafes like Eliana Lulu (which has a Spanish and Portuguese inspired menu and is just charming!). Walking around these backstreets really does give you time to chill.
WHERE TO EAT
Headed up by the talented and humble Chef Andrew McConnell, Cumulus Inc. is located on Flinders Lane, right in the art and fashion district. The space is warm and light, with wooden floors, high ceilings, and an open kitchen. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, so you can pop in and grab anything from organic muesli in the morning to a charcuterie board or a whole slow roast lamb shoulder.
For our Q&A with Chef McConnell, click here.
Estelle by Scott Pickett
Affectionately known as ESP, this restaurant is dark and moody, sexy and mysterious, and popular amongst the business attire crowd. Take your time—you’re here to indulge, luxuriate, and enjoy the company you’re with. The menu is eclectic with items like wallaby and sweetbreads, and very well-balanced and proportioned. After finishing our seven-course meal, we were full and satisfied but not grossly overstuffed as often happens with tasting menus.
For our full review and Q&A with Chef Pickett, click here.
Matteo’s is absolutely brilliant, due in no small part to the mastermind behind it all—restaurateur and owner Matteo Pignatelli. This Melbourne staple continues to be a hotspot in the city, evident from the buzzing crowd on the random Wednesday evening we were there. The cuisine, which has been based around a broader French-Asian theme in the past, is now stronger on the Asian influence and is a refreshing change with interesting flavour combinations.
For our Q&A with Matteo Pignatelli, click here.
This charming pasta bar is tiny, bustling, and hustling…and we adored every minute and morsel here! The food and wine are phenomenal and it is the place to be for lunch or supper.
This place has such a fab vibe and it should definitely be at the top of your list if you’re craving a well-mixed gin cocktail.
This is one of those hidden joints that is a local secret—if you didn’t know about it, you’d walk right past. Enter through the door into the tiniest bar with a fire, dim lighting, and beautifully displaced bottles. It’s a gorgeous hangout for cocktails.
Fatto Bar & Cantina
Indulge in a very well-priced glass of wine along the Yarra River and take in the Melbourne skyline.
A lively place just off Flinders Street where you can find the best reasonably priced tapas in town!
Tucked away on Flinders Lane, this is the spot for dining in a cool warehouse vibe.
For a Peruvian love affair, head to this funky-chic place on ACDC Lane.
Find a seat here for an upscale Indian flavour explosion. (PS – this place is run by the same guys at Coda.)
OTHER THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T MISS IN MELBOURNE
A Pandora’s Box of both established and emerging designer goodies. Gems from Beckham, Lanvin, Adrian Lewis, and more can all be found here. Christine is utterly delightful and (insider secret!)—Philip Treacy is ONLY available here!
Royal Botanic Gardens
This is definitely a can’t-miss. It’s within walking distance from The Langham Melbourne and it’s a gorgeous way to spend the morning or afternoon.
Spring Racing Carnival
Springtime in Melbourne (September through November) is packed with world-class thoroughbred racing. If you’re fan of racing, or just happen to be planning a trip here during that time, make a day out of it with one of the races!
Tennis fans, rejoice! The awesome Australian Open takes place in January at Melbourne Park along the Yarra River.
Australian Grand Prix
For you speedsters, check out some epic Formula 1 racing!
And with that, enjoy your adventures in Oz!!!