Medium- and high-rise towers are slowly transforming every part of inner Melbourne, but South Yarra's skyline has leapt up with particular vigour in the past decade. The block bounded by Yarra Street, Toorak Road and Chapel Street feels almost like an extension of the CBD, with the energy to match.

Elsewhere the wide, leafy streets are lined with historic mansions and terraces, including the publicly owned Como House. These quieter residential areas, such as Domain Road, are some of the most coveted and expensive in Melbourne.

Most of South Yarra’s cafes are concentrated around the new towers. During the week, they’re busy with workers from nearby advertising agencies, creative studios and the big Network 10 building.

On weekends, a similar crowd swaps the business shirts for activewear before taking to brunch. The exercise itself isn’t for everyone, but Faulkner Park and the nearby Tan track are reliably busy with walkers and runners.

Prahran Market – actually located in South Yarra – is another big drawcard in the area. With regular appearances by celebrity chefs and a growing coterie of organic traders, it’s made a name for itself as the upmarket market. This, and Chapel Street’s good mix of apparel stores, such as Gorman and LIFEwithBIRD, keep the area humming all day.

On Friday and Saturday nights, this wholesome routine of exercise, brunch and shopping feels like a distant dream. Traffic is reliably banked solid on Chapel Street with drivers doing “Chap Laps”; packs of revellers roam from bar to bar; and fast-food joints do a roaring trade.