Nov 25, 2016
From 1940s elegance to contemporary art aesthetics, these luxe business hotels – in the bustling city of Melbourne – will accommodate you in style.
Fortune-seekers have flocked to Melbourne since the 1850s gold rush that transformed Victoria’s capital from a sleepy backwater to a thriving metropolis. Today, the city of 4.4 million is a bustling business hub anchored by the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, telecommunications giant Telstra and two of the nation’s biggest banks. It’s also Australia’s No. 1 conference destination, pulling in $10 billion of events a year. An expanded convention and exhibition centre is due to open in 2018.
The country’s fastest-growing city is proud of its much-hyped “livability”. For out-of-towners, the most obvious benefits are its easy-to-navigate grid layout, expansive parks and gardens, decent public transport network and buoyant cultural and culinary scenes. It’s a true melting pot of cultures, as evidenced by the staggering choice and quality of world cuisines: Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Greek chief among them.
Melbourne is social to its core and maintains a busy events calendar, much of it tailored to corporate entertaining. Annual highlights are the Australian Open tennis tournament in January, the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in March, international comedy and film festivals, the Australian Football League season and the high-stakes Melbourne Cup Carnival in November, when celebrities of the human and horse worlds converge at Flemington Racecourse. Still seeking their fortunes after all these years.
Crown Towers Melbourne
Crown’s 38-storey riverbank skyscraper is the height of luxury in Melbourne and, in many ways, the benchmark hotel for Australian hospitality. Staff are switched on, systems run smoothly, the facilities for work and play are peerless and the room service menu is a joint production by chefs Neil Perry and Guillaume Brahimi. It’s not the most convenient location if your affairs are CBD-based but the views are better from this side of the Yarra River.
Business facilities: Crystal Club guests have access to the executive lounge and dedicated meeting areas. Crown conference centre caters for events for up to 750 people. There’s also a fully equipped business centre.
Wi-fi: Free throughout
Food and wine: The casino has amassed a line-up of chef-led restaurants so take your pick from the Neil Perry trio (Spice Temple, Rockpool, and Rosetta), Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Bistro Guillaume and Nobu.
Fitness and wellbeing: Crown Spa has a 25-metre indoor heated pool, 19 treatment rooms and a hammam. There’s a state-of-the-art gym and two city-view tennis courts on the roof.
Run route: The Main Yarra Trail runs by the hotel. Head east along the river, past public gardens and major landmarks. The trail continues for 33 kilometres to Templestowe.
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank; ￼crownhotels.com.au
Grand Hyatt Melbourne￼
This golden tower rubs shoulders with the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. at the glamorous end of town. The Grand Hyatt’s lobby of Greek marble and crystal curtains sets the tone for a stay – elegant and memorable. It’s also thoughtful: the Female Traveller Program is perfect for women travelling solo (rooms are serviced by female staff) and the Leave It at Hyatt service lets regular guests store gear between visits.
Business facilities: There’s a business centre, plus event spaces catering for dinners for up to 650 people. The Event 360° digital event package includes a conference app.
Wi-fi: Free throughout
Food and wine: Collins Kitchen arguably serves Melbourne’s best hotel breakfast: made-to-order eggs, pancakes, buffet stations laden with everything from cornflakes to chawanmushi, and mostly locally grown ingredients.
Fitness and wellbeing: City Club Health & Fitness is the gym of choice for city suits, offering group fitness classes, golf nets, a heated indoor pool and rooftop tennis.
Run route: Head down Russell Street to Federation Square, through the riverside parklands of Birrarung Marr and on to Batman Avenue and the city’s sports arenas. It’s an enjoyable four-kilometre round trip.
123 Collins Street, Melbourne; melbourne.grand.hyatt.com
The Westin Melbourne
This outpost of the five-star Westin chain has a distinctly Melbourne heart, thanks to its laneway entry, vignettes of Victorian architecture and blue-chip position for business and pleasure. Aesthetics are the strong suit here: the 262 rooms (minimum 38 square metres) feel more like smart apartments with fruit-wood finishes and, in some, Juliet balconies.
Business facilities: The hotel has an entire floor of meeting and conference rooms. There’s no business centre but Westin “associates” are on call to handle all corporate needs.
Wi-fi: It’s $20 a day for non-Starwood Preferred Guest members and free in the lobby.
Food and wine: The recently expanded lobby lounge doubles as a bar and all-day diner serving staples such as Wagyu burgers and cocktails like the Chilli Mango Margarita. In-house restaurant Allegro does an express two-course lunch for $39 (or $52 for three courses).
Fitness and wellbeing: In addition to the hotel’s gym, pool and sauna, some rooms are equipped with treadmills, exercise bikes, yoga mats and dumbbells.
Run route: Leave your running gear at home. The Westin will lend you a full kit, including sanitised sneakers, for $5 during your stay. Running maps chart a course across the Yarra River and around the Tan Track’s 3.8-kilometre Botanic Gardens circuit. Or join a group jog with a “running concierge”. Complimentary towels and bottled water await your return to the hotel.
205 Collins Street, Melbourne; westinmelbourne.com
Art and commerce go hand in hand at The Blackman, a contemporary hotel that brings the bohemian spirit of Australian painter Charles Blackman to the corporate heartland of St Kilda Road. Its 209 rooms and suites offer apartment-style features, including kitchenettes, coffee machines, cable TV and balconies or terraces. The hotel is ideal for creative types visiting neighbourhood ad agencies and is handy to bayside Melbourne.
Business facilities: Six conference/event spaces are available, including the Garden Penthouse with a wraparound terrace above Albert Park. A conferencing concierge can handle all logistics.
Wi-fi: Free throughout
Food and wine: On-site restaurant Classico is a welcome find in the culinary backwaters of St Kilda Road. Its heavily Italian-accented menu name-checks all the classics, such as pizza, fried polenta with Gorgonzola, and tiramisu. Or you could give the expense account a thorough workout at St Kilda’s Italian institution, Café Di Stasio (31 Fitzroy Street).
Fitness and wellbeing: There’s a serviceable gym on the first floor of this 18-storey building. Guests can also hire a cult Dutch Lekker bicycle for $30 a day.
Run route: The 4.7-kilometre jogging track around Albert Park Lake traces the route of the Melbourne Grand Prix. Situated right behind The Blackman, it’s a serene setting for some high-octane exercise.
452 St Kilda Road, Melbourne;￼ artserieshotels.com.au