Melbourne is having a moment. Long overlooked for Sydney, the capital of Victoria is now considered one of the world’s most livable cities. It’s full of Victorian buildings, tree-lined streets, a rabid café culture, and immigrants from around the globe. Museums, concert halls, galleries, and sporting events thrive here. New restaurants are luring chefs from steadfast Michelin destinations. And you no longer have to stay in the Central Business District (CBD) during your visit.
South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s trendiest neighborhoods. Hip shops and restaurants line Chapel Street and Toorak Road. The Yarra River and the Royal Botanic Gardens are only a few blocks away. While the Lyall Hotel and Spa is the ideal place to overcome your jet lag. The hotel is sleek, sophisticated, and focused on your comfort. A cozy fireplace invites you into the library. A gallery on each floor feels like your own private art collection. You decompress in the steam room, and then have a massage, at the spa. The relaxation continues in your suite, where a velour bathrobe and a heated bathroom floor await. Plus the Lyall Champagne Bar, which features live jazz and cranberry champagne cocktails, is the perfect place to begin—or end—the evening.
Looking for something a little more bohemian and a little less polished? Prahran is right next to South Yarra, but the area is more eclectic. The Prahran Market is a smaller version of Melbourne’s famous Queen Victoria Market. Antiques and vintage clothing are sold at the bohemian Chapel Street Bazaar. Hipsters drink flat whites at Greville Street’s coffee shops. While the black-and-white rooms at The Cullen Hotel are full of bright, contemporary artwork by Aussie artist Adam Cullen. Gaze at the Melbourne skyline from your balcony. Rent a Smart car or a Dutch-style Lekker Bike to explore. Eat dumplings in the Chinese garden at HuTong Dumpling Bar or a Reuben sandwich on the deck of the New York-style Gramercy Bistro. Then ride the train into the city—you’re only five minutes from Flinders Street Station.
Prefer to be near the beach? If so, you need to book a hotel room in St.Kilda. This waterfront neighbor has gone through many incarnations. First, sea-view mansions were built in the 19th century. Then it became a Coney Island-style playground in the early 20th century. A red-light district, and then a thriving art scene, followed. It’s now popular for its waterfront promenade, Acland Street cake shops, and, of course, the beach. The Prince is just a few steps away from Catani Gardens and the harbor. The Deck, a timber terrace with olive trees and an indoor pool, overlooks Port Phillip Bay. Minimal, neutral rooms have lots of natural light. Circa serves coal-roasted squid and wagyu hanger steak. While the Prince Bandroom has been hosting live music for more than 60 years. You’ll feel right at home once you have a Victoria Bitter in your hand.
Melbourne—which you quickly learned is pronounced “Mel-bin”—has everything you want in a city. You’ve slept in boutique hotels, eaten amazing meals, explored interesting neighborhoods, and fallen in love with the laid-back lifestyle. Plus there’s that addicting accent. So isn’t it time you start looking at real estate instead of hotel rooms?