Destination Guide to Melbourneby Georgia Hopkins of @_itsbeautifulhere
As her hometown, Melbourne, Australia is extra special to Georgia Hopkins of It’s Beautiful Here. Where Sydney is all sun-drenched and showy, Melbourne is a tad more down-to-earth and, she dare says, sophisticated. Victoria’s state capital and largest city makes up for its fewer sparkling shorelines with a lot of rich culture (art, music, good food, great coffee), buzzing creative energy and authenticity. Herein, some of Georgia’s favorite ways to eat, drink and adventure through this friendly, laidback town.
United Places Botanic Gardens
Without doubt, United Places is the most considered luxury boutique hotel experience in Melbourne. Here, thoughtful design and collaboration with local artists are paramount. Book one of their spacious two-bedroom Garden Suites for its luxe black sunken bath and private balcony, with views over the gorgeous Royal Botanic Gardens. Considered touches include handmade lamps, custom furniture by famed Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola and bath products by Le Labo. There’s also an inspired emphasis on sustainability, including the use of refillable glass amenity kits and washable slippers, and eliminating single-use packaging. The downstairs restaurant, Matilda, by renowned Melbourne chef Scott Pickett (Saint Crispin, Estelle and ESP), offers contemporary Australian food cooked over hot coals. Matilda is also responsible for your breakfast delivery each morning, which you can request at any time—their concierge service is open 24 hours.
Lyall Hotel and Spa
Lyall Hotel and Spa is a long-standing favorite in the very leafy and pretty neighborhood of South Yarra. If you request The Platinum Suite, you will be graced with stunning views over the trees of Murphy Street from a spacious terrace, as well as plenty of room to spread out. Feeling more like an apartment than a hotel suite, The Platinum Suite comes with a separate living room, en suite bathroom, double spa bath, fireplaces in both rooms and kitchen. The award-winning Lyall Spa is a must-do. Their Signature Spa Ritual will have you floating away. The heavenly sensory journey includes a one-hour Sodashi Prescriptive Massage and a one-hour Sodashi Pure Radiance Facial. Ask for Kumi, an incredible therapist.
Park Hyatt Melbourne
Overlooking the prettiest part of town, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fitzroy Gardens and bustling Collins Street, the Park Hyatt Melbourne offers an old-world kind of luxury that is hard to find elsewhere in the city. With 245 rooms and suites, and the largest hotel swimming pool in Melbourne, this is a lovely place to stay if you want to be right in the thick of things. The Park Hyatt’s High Tea experience is a must. Overlooking the pretty Trilogy Gardens, the daily tea is served in the lounge and includes champagne with an exquisite mix of handmade treats, finger sandwiches and house-baked scones.
EAT & DRINK
Hidden away at the end of a tiny laneway called Presgrave Place, Bar Americano is an Italian-inspired aperitive bar, which is standing room only and accommodates just 10 people at a time. Owner Matt Bax is an absolute pro when it comes to nailing the perfect cocktail bar, and a Negroni in this tiny space is recommended. Just be prepared to wait a while to get in.
Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar
A Melbourne institution since 1954, Pellegrini’s is considered one of the most iconic destinations in the city. I’ve been coming here since I was three months old (my parents used to chuck me in a bassinet under the communal table out the back, while the Nonna dished up her daily pasta). To this day, it still serves excellent pasta (go for the lasagne) and delicious granitas. If you’re not hungry, just pop in for a quick espresso at the bar. You can’t leave Melbourne without trying this special place.
Quite possibly my favorite dining destination in the city, Marion is the perfect place for a weekend breakfast, long lunch or delicious dinner. Sitting on the corner of Deadman’s Lane, in Melbourne’s oldest suburb of Fitzroy, Marion is friendly and welcoming, and everything they do is perfection. The wine list features wines sourced locally and from around the world, and the menu is seasonal and generous. Try the steak and fries with the prawn roll to start.
This teeny-tiny corner bistro in South Yarra is a bit of a fixture amongst locals. Be sure to book one of the few tables well in advance as it fills up quickly. The menu changes weekly, with only four entree and four main course options. The formula is always the same: one meat, one fish, one vegetarian pasta and one meat pasta. Their signature pappardelle ragu comes highly recommended. There is no freezer onsite or even a cool room; fresh fruit, vegetables and meat arrive each morning, in time for the day’s service. With just two chefs in the Cucinetta (“tiny kitchen”), creativity and versatility are key. The wine list is excellent and they do a great Negroni or Campari Spritz as well. To boot, their service is warm and friendly.
A beautiful warehouse space tucked away in the backstreets of Collingwood, Cibi is a heavenly oasis for Japanese-inspired food, homewares and excellent coffee. The lofty, light-filled space is also home to a plant shop. Cibi, means “little one” and the team here believes in looking at the world through the eyes of our younger selves. This is a place that celebrates the joy of discovery.
A goldsmith by trade, Lucy Folk has made a name for herself with designs that are distinctly colorful, eclectic and sophisticated. A nomadic lifestyle brand, Folk’s handmade jewels, Italian-made eyewear, accessories and resort apparel are inspired by a voracious appetite for travel, cuisine, art and wellbeing, as well as an endless summer. Lucy Folk is all about a unique aesthetic, superior craftsmanship and unconventional creativity. Check out both her flagship store in Melbourne city and also her salon (Lucky Folk Salon) in Windsor. Good luck trying to walk out empty-handed.
Handsom is a beautiful local brand built on considered design and a commitment to utilizing high-quality, cruelty-free and sustainable materials. It specializes in contemporary menswear and womenswear responsibly produced in small batches with premium fabrics. Since the beginning, the lovely team at Handsom has been dedicated to ethical, sustainable manufacturing and supporting local communities. Stop into their store on Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street and owner Sam will be there with her beaming big smile to greet you.
Kloke is a local contemporary women’s and men’s clothing line known for beautiful construction and attention to detail. With a few stores around town, Kloke specializes in outerwear, knitwear, skirts and pants. Their pieces are extremely good quality and unique in design.
Previously only available online, Loom Towels’ handmade Turkish towels are now available in the most beautiful little store in the King’s Arcade in Armadale. The brainchild of local Mikala James, the limited edition towels, designed in Melbourne, are handmade in a small workshop in Turkey on 100-year-old shuttle looms using only high quality organic materials. The company believes in supporting traditional craftsmanship, and its products are organic, natural and sustainable. Only so many towels can be produced by their shuttle looms, so all collections are created as limited editions of between 75 to 150 pieces, which makes for a special keepsake.
Happy Valley is an awesome pitstop if you’re interested in design, books, vinyl or art. A cute little shop on Collingwood’s Smith Street, Happy Valley offers a diverse range of books, magazines, art prints and gifts.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
The Royal Botanic Gardens is the lushest and most peaceful oasis right in the heart of the city. Welcoming more than 2 million visitors every year (yet seemingly never crowded), the spacious gardens are filled with gentle walking paths and verdant nooks. If you’re feeling active, you can do as the locals do and run or walk around “The Tan,” a 3.8km walking track around the perimeter of the gardens.
The National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia’s most visited art museum. Spread across two venues, the NGV International has its entrance on St Kilda Road. Designed by architect Sir Roy Grounds, it’s marked by an iconic moat and waterfall wall. The world-class gallery has played host to many blockbuster exhibitions, featuring both international icons and Australia’s finest.
Heide Museum of Modern Art
An inspiring experience of art, architecture, gardens and social history, Heide Museum of Modern Art began life in 1934 as the home of John and Sunday Reed. Since then, it has evolved into one of Australia’s most important cultural institutions. The 15-acre property on which Heide stands became home to like-minded individuals such as artists Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Danila Vassilieff. John and Sunday Reed nurtured a circle of artists, writers and intellectuals who helped Heide become a place for the discussion, creation and promotion of modern art and literature. The grounds are lush and green, sprinkled with sculptures, and there’s always an inspiring rotation of modern and contemporary exhibitions on show.
Good Vibes Yoga
With two locations across Melbourne—the original in Northcote, and a stunning new space in Collingwood—Good Vibes Yoga is the perfect place to enjoy some time out. All of the teachers are uplifting and wonderful, but I highly recommend booking a class with Ryan Mannix—I’ve yet to find a better yoga teacher anywhere around the world. His classes are full of heart and soul, yet incredibly challenging at the same time.
Spend a day in the beautiful seaside town of Lorne, along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. The drive is 2.5 hours from Melbourne and you’ll be blessed with unbelievable ocean and mountain views along the way. Take some time to enjoy the beach, grab a coffee from Moons and go for a hike through the Otway forest. In the afternoon, stop for a drink at local favorite the “Anglers” before enjoying a seriously good slow-roasted lamb and some crispy roast potatoes at Greek diner Ipsos. The owner Dominic’s laugh alone is worth the visit.
Photo credits: Bar Americano photos by James Morgan.