It was dark by the time we touched down in Melbourne from Queenstown. We headed straight for the hotel, hoping for some shut-eye to set us up for an intense few days of exploring Melbourne.
We opted not to rent a car in Aus – we had no plans to embark on any road trips, and our City travels usually mean we’re getting around largely on foot or via Uber / Taxi. It so happened that Uber were rolling out their ‘pool’ option throughout the city when we arrived. We can’t imagine it’ll always be so dirt-cheap ($3 p/10m ride) but it’s worth considering – especially since there’s no guarantee you’ll even be sharing with anybody!
Price: $142 / £74 p/night, inc. 2 free drinks through Hotels.com
Our hotel of choice was Park View Hotels, right next to Albert Park. Included in the price was a buffet breakfast, which we’d characterize as ‘just ok’. No matter – Aussies know how to do breakfast, so we had no trouble finding our fix elsewhere.
The hotel also included gym facilities – a single, janky cable machine and a lone treadmill. You win some, you lose some.
We aim to stay in places that are within walking distance of the hustle-and-bustle wherever we go- naff gym aside, this place did the trick. When you’re staying in a buzzy city, it always seems a bit of a shame to splurge on a hotel you’ll barely have time to enjoy.
The route into the city took us straight through Albert Park – a lovely picnic spot if the weather is playing ball.
We padded around the city, taking in some of the more impressive street art we’ve come across on our travels.
Melbourne is famous for it, and you can easily while away a morning wandering around and lapping it up.
You’ll probably be a little hungry after that art-appreciation, though.
Happily we have a few suggestions!
Bars / Restaurants
Melbourne has an insane foodie scene. We had 3 days to eat our way around the city whilst not doubling our bodyweight. Here’s what we managed:
Grain store: Brunch
Price: Mains $14-21 / £8-11 , cocktails $14 / £7
It was Saturday, so we booked ahead just in case. This was the first of many brunches in Aus, and it’s still one of the more memorable.
We’d heartily recommend the Confit Pork Benedict – utterly melt-in-the-mouth and truly exemplary. We ordered a side of smoked salmon which was also knock-out.
We chased it with the Banana & Yogurt Bread which was far more impressive than the name suggests.
It was so … moist.
Price: Mains $15-21 / £8-11 , cocktails $14 / £7
We met an online client over Brunch here – her choice, and we happily took Brunch advice from a Melbourne native.
Higher Ground don’t take reservations but their take on a fry-up made with lamb is well worth a 20 minute wait. We ordered a coffee to keep us ticking over whilst we waited for our table. Any excuse to drink coffee in Melbourne – coffee in this city is no joke, it’s not a myth.
St Ali Coffee:
Price: $4.50 / £2.40 coffee
Speaking of the black nectar, this joint deserves an honourable mention. Decidedly hipster interior, indisputably good coffee. We grabbed a cup to go – it was jam-packed, so book ahead if you’re hoping to nab a seat and a bite to eat.
Price: $18 / £10 cocktails
We got lucky with the weather in Melbourne. There’s no place better than the South Bank for a wander when the sun’s out.
We stopped off for some cocktails at Hopscotch, a cute joint with live music and excellent cocktail options.
We started with a Daquiri tasting board ($20 / £10.50) – an indecisive’s dream.
Before progressing to something a little more dessert-like. Anything that comes with snacks is a yes from us.
Lustre Bar: Drinks
Price $10 / £5 selected cocktail on Happy Hour (usually $18-20 / £9-11)
We always, always hunt out a happy Hour – why pay more, etc etc.
Lustre runs a weekend happy hour on limited cocktails, and is technically a dessert bar, too – naturally we dived in. Indoors is’s dark, chic, and intimate, with a balcony perfect for people-watching over one of Melbourne’s bustling side-alleys.
Melbourne has several markets – some more chilled, farmers market-types, some decidedly more edgy / kitch.
Night Noodle Market
Free entry / dishes av. $10-20 / £5-10
By chance, our stay coincided with the recommencement of Melbourne’s Night Noodle Market – any achingly cool foodie spot with pretty cheap nibbles from dozens of vendors. So worth a visit if you’re into Asian grub and happen to be in town when the Market is running. We were particularly nuts about the offering from Bao Brothers Eatery, and ZOMG Sando’s take on a wagu beef sandwich.
This is a fab place to grab a bite and while away a few hours shopping, eating, and people-watching. There are countless vendors selling everything from homeware to clothes to snacks (of course). Of Melbourne’s many day-markets, this was our favourite.
If you happen to be visiting Melbourne whilst the weather is decent, it’s worth heading out to local St Kilda. A 15-minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD, it’s a little seaside town – think Brighton-vibes when the sun is shining.
Very chilled, a great spot for people-watching, and the St. Kilda market runs every Sunday.
There’s also some street art dotted around to peruse, if that’s your jam.
Whilst in the area, we stopped for an final coffee fix at Neighbours Cafe.
…with an obligatory acai bowl on the side. Our first authentic aussie Acai experience. It was a decent offering, but our favourite Acai bowl still lives here, in LA.
We’d describe Melbourne as a cross between London and Brighton. Very edgy, very cool, and it’s foodie offerings were some of the better we enjoyed on our trip.
Final stop on our tour of New Zealand and Australia: Sydney!
Melbourne – Sydney with Quantus, 9000avios for business class seats + £15 tax.