3000 Travel Guide - Page 2
AmandaK has left her perch in Perth, Australia and spent some time in Melbourne. This week she'll be giving us the lowdown on the hotels there. If you have a question or suggestion, send it our way and we'll get right on it.
While the hotel is technically open for business, now is not the best time to stay at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne in Australia since some renovations are still being finished up and the access in and out of the hotel isn't great.
The renos are focused on refurbishing the two lobbies and entrances from both streets (it straddles a large corner), and the Bar Deco, Plane Tree Café and some of the event facilities are also getting an overhaul.
The Grand Hyatt also has a tower that looks impressive from the outside and is right in the heart of downtown Melbourne, but the hotel always gets mixed reviews. Those used to a "real" five-star hotel always seem disappointed--perhaps this is the reason for the renovation.
According to the signage outside (which features a whole heap of caterpillar-to-butterfly transformations) the new version of the Grand Hyatt should be ready in November 2008.
With average rates starting at US$285 a night it's probably worth waiting until then to try it--and then splurge for one of their Romance or Relaxation packages to make the most of it.
On Spencer Street in Melbourne, close to one of the main railway stations and with trams stopping in front of it, the Pensione Hotel Melbourne is probably allowed to claim that it's a "perfect base" to explore Melbourne from. Nice for a hotel website speak to actually be true for once! Add to that a recent multi-million dollar renovation and it really doesn't sound bad at all.
The new incarnation of the Pensione, a 114-room place that brands itself as both boutique and budget, has now got WiFi throughout, which we like, and there's a sun deck on the roof. Moments of sunshine in Melbourne can be rare, though, so this mightn't be the most useful feature around.
The Pensione also has some pretty funky modern décor, unusual in a place that has such reasonable rates--rooms start at A$95 (US$91) a night if you stay for three nights, or they'll go even cheaper if you stay for a week.
The South Wharf area of Melbourne is covered with construction workers right now, but at least they've reached the top of the new Hilton South Wharf, being built next to the new Melbourne Convention Centre.
As Australia's unofficial "second city", Melbourne is aiming to beat Sydney one day and one way it might get there is through its huge boom in hotels.
With Australia's largest hotel under construction in Melbourne and a heap of others either on the way or on the drawing board, lil' brother Melbourne might just do it. The Hilton South Wharf and the Convention Centre project it's a part of are meant to attract thousands of visitors for regular vacations and especially for conventions and conferences.
The Hilton South Wharf reached a landmark last week with its "topping off" ceremony, celebrating reaching the 20th (and top) floor. Now they just have to fill in the details on the 396 rooms and finish up in time for the early 2009 deadline.
When we looked at the Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne about 18 months ago, our conclusion was that it just didn't match the hype. Turns out others agreed with us but since some new owners took over just about that time, things have been looking up.
It's a slow process because, according to the new owners, it's all about "evolution, not revolution". They have opened a spa complex on the ninth floor, and in quite a unique deal, this spa is run by staff from a beauty therapy college nearby--and even wait staff in the restaurant and reception staff are graduates of the college, so whoever you speak to knows all about the spa treatments too.
While we're quite sure now that decent WiFi access is a very hit and miss affair in Europe, we're not yet sure how a laptop fares Down Under.
Since we're considering a trip to Melbourne, we've done a bit of digging on hotels in Australia's second city that offer a good (and preferably free) WiFi service, and got a couple of tips from blogger monkeyjedi who's been tracking down some good WiFi spots across Oz.
If you're looking for a big chain hotel, then the Westin Melbourne offers complimentary broadband internet and wireless connectivity in all public areas, and it's also available in guest rooms. A little bit sneakily, we think, there is a charge if you use it in your room, so you should take your laptop out to the lobby (pictured) and log on there.
Also on the list, and suitable if you're more into boutique hotels, is the Hotel Lindrum. They offer free WiFi access in the lobby, but not yet in guest rooms.
We haven't tried this yet, but wouldn't we get some WiFi connectivity if we request a room as close to the lobby as possible? It could work in some hotels, couldn't it? Or let's try another strategy: hotels, this is the 21st century. GIVE US WIFI! For free, please.
We are suckers for a room with a killer view. We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.
We haven't been able to get into these particular toilets yet, but there is plenty of evidence of great views from higher floors of this hotel. This view is taken from the Superior King Room 4418, and the daytime views are just as gorgeous.
· Indulge at the Sofitel Melbourne [HotelChatter]
· Melbourne Hotel Reviews [HotelChatter]
· Travel Stories in Melbourne [Jaunted]
On Collins Street in downtown Melbourne, the Sofitel Melbourne is regularly billed as a good luxury or business hotel, but there's more to it than that. It's also the site of a killer view: the tip is (even if you're not a guest, but don't tell them we told you) to take the elevator to the 35th floor and check out the bathrooms: both the men's and women's toilets have fantastic views over the city.
The Sofitel Melbourne also has quite a few special package deals, especially those with a cultural bent.
For example, the A$315 ($270) Guggenheim Collection package includes tickets to a special National Gallery of Victoria exhibition along with overnight accommodation and breakfast; the Phantom of the Opera package includes two A-reserve tickets to see "The Phantom" in Melbourne, for A$558 ($480).
Or you can pick the romantic getaway dubbed "So Indulgent" which includes Superior Room accommodation, breakfast, dinner and cocktails, an in-room movie of your choice and--here's the intriguing part--"a romantic in-room treat to share". We're curious if not actually tempted.
· Melbourne Hotel Reviews [HotelChatter]
· Travel Stories in Melbourne [Jaunted]
It made the list of Hip Hotels of the World, has won design awards and its features and location make it sound great, but something seems to be missing from Melbourne's boutique Adelphi Hotel.
Its location is spot-on: on Flinders Lane between Russell and Swanston Streets, it's central and a short walk from the famous Flinders Street Station. The concert hall and theater center is also within walking distance if you're in Melbourne to catch a show. There's a lap pool on the roof (although you wouldn't want there to be too many other swimmers--it's pretty narrow). The Adelphi was built into a converted warehouse and architecturally it's definitely cool.
But, the guest reviews just don't bear this out. Complaints range from finding dirty champagne glasses in the room and having hard, uncomfortable beds through to problems with noise and lack of soundproofing--the good location does mean that there are people milling around outside until midnight, and apparently at 5am the garbage trucks start up. With rack rates for Premier Rooms (they're the cheap end) published at A$560 (US$480) and the Executive Suite setting you back A$1250 (US$1070) a night, you wouldn't expect to hear these complaints.
· Melbourne Hotels [HotelChatter]
Those signs explaining how you can help the environment by not having your towels washed every day have become a pretty standard way that hotels try to help the environment now, but the Novotel chain are taking things a whole lot further.
Australia's having some water shortage problems, and the Novotel Melbourne on Collins has an interesting solution:
Guests checking in at the Novotel will receive a complimentary three-minute shower timer to ensure those would be singing starlets stick to a short tune rather than an operetta! With guests across 324 rooms taking three-minute showers, that's a lot of water being saved.
While we heartily applaud these environmentally sound efforts, we're not quite sure that we want to give up our luxurious lengthy shower, especially when we're staying at a nice hotel. Fortunately, if we let our three minutes slip over to four, Novotel is still doing other things to save water, like using water-reducing shower heads and installing water restrictor pipes to all rooms.
Internationally, Novotel's owner, Accor, is emphasising other green activities in their hotels, including rejuvenating plants and trees in North America and focusing on reducing carbon emissions in Europe. For Accor and Novotel, 22 April is Earth Guest Day: so at least on that day, make your shower a three minute one.
Comissioned in 1900 by tea merchants (euphimism for English criminals) in Melbourne, Australia, Hotel Lindrum today still stands with its original Romanesque Revival style. Inside the hotel is sleek and chic.
We caught some news from the future on this one--Australia time that is--the Sydney Morning Herald paid a visit to this historical building to see how it stands in the hospitality world. The verdict looks good, as it turns out, the place won "Best Luxury Accomodation" by AAA Tourism awards in 2004.
The room design is cool and uncluttered:
It was generously proportioned and stylishly furnished in hardwood veneer with muted taupes and browns. The stand-alone wardrobe cleverly hid our bags and clothes and also housed ironing items and a safe. Business travellers would be pleased with the built-in writing desk, modem point and broadband internet access. The pillow menu took my fancy - you can order your favourite type of pillow to ensure a good night's rest
Everything about the place sounds cozy...whatever pillow you want, fireplaces, dim lighting, historic building. Plus, the hotel suggests that you cozy up in their lounge with a cognac, cigar, and game of billiards. The idea conjures images of an old-world New York. Or as one traveler put it, "New York without the attitude".
All guests are provided with an exclusive free cosmetics make-over by the Bloom beauticians at the nearby Myer store, just footsteps from the hotel on the Bourke Street Mall.
Recent guests concur that the hotel's location and price can't be beat. As long as you don't bring a lot of luggage, you will enjoy your cozy (read exceptionally small) quarters.
Mercure Welcome Hotel standard rooms were very small, the first room we got was next to the elevator, (you could hear them running, and wind whistling through the elevator doors from the room), you could hear water running in pipes inside the walls when someone above you took a shower or flushed a toilet. To their credit the rooms were clean.
Perhaps the Mercure is trying to boost their image by making their guests look especially glam, or maybe the hotel needs a bit of a make over itself.