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 a short flight to a city you’re usually too busy to get to. And with Melbourne forever one for embracing the cooler months, we’ve designed a two-day southern “escape” to prompt a sense of curiosity and flânerie.
Maximise your stay 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 on foot 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 on Flinders Street for two exhibitions that 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 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 or simply curious to find out what all the fuss about Andrew McConnell is, get dinner at Gimlet. The Melbourne chef’s newest establishment exemplifies old-world glamour, with an elegant dining room bringing to mind the grand hotels of New York, and a menu that’s decidedly European, but 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 to a supper menu at 10pm, so you can linger in the intimate booths while the plates keep coming. Must-get: 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 over to the NGV on St Kilda Road.
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). International artists – such as American sculptor Jeff Koons and French photographer and street artist JR – are on display alongside local up-and-comers, in a layout you can – and should – lose hours in.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Marriott.