Crispy leaves crunching underfoot, cosily lit cafes beckoning us inside, scarf weather: Melbourne in autumn has a distinctive charm.
Sometimes the best mini-break you can take is within your own city, exploring the places you’re usually too busy to get to. We’ve designed a two-day Melbourne “escape” to prompt a sense of curiosity and flânerie without leaving the city.
Maximise your staycation with a Friday night check-in at W Melbourne, your nucleus for the weekend. This new addition to Melbourne’s hotel scene sets a decadent mood for your city sojourn.
There are 294 luxurious rooms, including 175-square-metre suite (it’s called the ‘Extreme Wow Suite’ for a reason) with an expansive balcony overlooking the Yarra. Stop by the 14th floor for a dip in the indoor pool, where the ceiling is gold-tinted and there’s poolside bar. Or fill the bath in your marble bathroom and swan about in a robe while making the most of the in-room bar. (This is no standard minibar either – it’s equipped with cocktail-mixing equipment, local craft spirits and all the trimmings.)
The hotel is home to four restaurants and bars, including Lollo, a day-to-night diner with Coda and Tonka executive chef Adam D’Sylva at the helm. Lollo and cocktail lounge Curious are open now, and Japanese restaurant Warabi and cafe-bar Culprit are due to open in May.
Dukes Coffee Roasters
Rise late before decamping to Dukes Coffee Roasters for your morning coffee. This Flinders Lane spot ethically sources its beans from farms and small cooperatives in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Colombia, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
Cross your fingers for a spot at the bar. It might be petite, but this cosily lit, wood-clad enclave is a lovely place to linger with a hot brew and a pastry on a Saturday, when the coffee-seeking crowds are a little more leisurely.
Next, head to the Immigration Museum for two exhibitions that will prompt self-reflection and reveal the stories of others. Melbourne-based South Sudanese artist Atong Atem’s To Be Real explores identity – and the ways we construct stories to understand ourselves and our surroundings – through photography.
And Becoming You: An Incomplete Guide plunges viewers into the awkward, uncomfortable space between childhood and adulthood, sharing 71 coming-of-age stories from a multitude of perspectives and experiences.
Sidle back to the hotel for a few drinks before dinner. A secret laneway entrance off Market Street will lead you down to W Melbourne’s Curious, where – if you can tear your eyes away from the design – there’s an extensive cocktail menu to contemplate.
Refuel with the bar’s signature ‘A Curious Ristretto’, which nods to Melbourne’s coffee culture and is topped with a beeswax-sealed bubble of nutmeg smoke that pops upon first sip. The wine list is lengthy; local craft booze dominates the spirits list; and there are a handful of tasty snacks, including oysters and charcuterie, to tame burgeoning appetites.
Gimlet at Cavendish House
Whether you’re playing fine-dining-tourist in your own city, or you’re simply an Andrew McConnell loyalist, you’ll want to get dinner at Gimlet. The renowned Melbourne chef’s newest establishment exemplifies old-world glamour. The elegant dining room might bring to mind the grand hotels of New York, but the menu is decidedly European, expressed via local produce. Try the kingfish crudo with bottarga, the Lyonnaise salad, or the peppered porterhouse with leeks and lovage (a celery-like herb common in French kitchen gardens).
There’s also a caviar service and a roving cheese trolley. The kitchen switches over to a supper menu at 10pm, so you can linger in the intimate booths while the plates keep coming. Don’t miss the venue’s namesake drink, a Gimlet blending gin, Moscato, citrus and Geraldton wax.
Savour a sleep-in on your last morning at the hotel before popping down to Lollo for a croque monsieur, then saunter over to the NGV.
The gallery has brought together more than 100 artists and designers from more than 30 countries for its colossal second NGV Triennial. This stirring combination of major new commissions and recent works grants viewers insight into people, cultures and places all over the world (which is extra-special given current geographic limitations). Renowned international artists – such as American sculptor Jeff Koons and French photographer and street artist JR – are on display alongside local up-and-comers. This artistic blockbuster is just what the doctor ordered after a year of near solitude.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Marriott.