Why does Melbourne keep getting voted one of the world’s most liveable cities? Buzzing laneways, inviting wine bars and cafes and some of Australia’s best restaurants may have something to do with it.
Your phone will get a workout at White Mojo in the CBD, the star of countless Instagram posts. The menu includes cleansing options such as the Mojo salad, with its seasonal greens, red radish, bean shoots, coriander and wild rice, and no holds barred indulgences such as the famous crab croissant burger. Over in a converted Abbotsford hat factory, Three Bags Full has won a devoted following for its brunch, where every element from the French press coffee to the house-made jams, relishes and pestos, is perfectly executed. Laneway favourite Cumulus Inc is as popular in the morning as it is the evening. Choose from exotic options such as shakshouka or go traditional with the Full English.
In Melbourne, smart travellers take the time to get lost in the laneways. The city's best treasures are tucked down these side streets. Everything from cutting-edge boutiques and colourful street art to jazz bars and tiny trattoria. Flinders Lane, Little Collins Street, Hosier Lane and Meyer’s Place are all great places to start. The city’s historic arcades are also great for meandering such as the Royal Arcade and the Block Arcade, with its beautiful glass roof and mosaic floor. Add in a dose of culture at the National Gallery of Victoria and a stroll along the Yarra River for a total Melbourne experience.
The beachside suburb of St Kilda has long been one of Melbourne’s favourite playgrounds. from the European-style cafes of Acland Street, where Melbourne’s cafe society was born, to the outdoor pubs, cafes and restaurants of Fitzroy Street. Work up an appetite with a stroll along the waterfront before sampling some of the local wares. Grab a coffee at GB Espresso, or head to Donovans for a delicious lunch complete with water views. The St Kilda Esplanade Market is the place to browse for bargains. A thriving inner-city hub of street art, vintage and contemporary boutiques, and quirky bars. Gertrude Street, Brunswick Street and Rose Street are all great places to go exploring.
It takes serious advance planning to score a table at Attica; Australia’s most acclaimed restaurant books out months in advance. If you do somehow nab a reservation, you will soon realise what the fuss is about. Chef Ben Shewry knows how to make the most of every ingredient, whether that is a simple slice of Santa Claus melon dusted with Davidson plum powder, or an exquisite morsel of Cape Grim beef served on a bone sharpened like a spear. Another inventive local is Shaun Quade of Lume in South Melbourne, who has a passion for unusual ingredients – camel hump, anyone? – and a determination to push the boundaries. His more adventurous creations include the sea taco, in which crab custard is moulded to look like corn. More in the mood for something comforting? Tipo 00 offers a warm welcome and superb plates of hand-rolled pasta topped with local produce, such as the tagliatelle with rabbit, olive and oregano.
It doesn’t get more Melbourne than a double-decker bar housed in a shipping container hidden down a laneway, complete with striking art installations. Located off Little Bourke Street, Whitehart is a real one-of-a-kind venue. Alternatively, try Smalls wine bar where everything is petite, from the bar itself – which seats just 24 guests – to the well-edited wine list. The selection of 15 wines by the glass changes constantly, but showcases small-scale wineries. The lights are always low at Gin Palace, a louche, lovely subterranean drinking den with lots of cosy corners. Gin isn’t the only spirit on offer but when the martinis are this good, why would you drink anything else?
If you are hankering for the full five-star experience, The Langham is hard to beat. With an enviable perch by the river on Southbank and a dedication to service that goes above and beyond, The Langham delivers classic style: just check out its famous afternoon tea. For those who prefer something more contemporary, QT Melbourne offers a design-driven aesthetic with eye-catching art installations, cheeky lifts that talk to guests, and a fabulous restaurant, Pascale. Don't forget, booking your accommodation through Corporate Traveller's exclusive SmartSTAY program gives you access to free extras and upgrades every time you check in.