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An Insider's Guide To Melbourne

July 11, 2016

In a monthly column produced for AFR's Boss Magazine, we highlight the best of a city for biz visitors and sophisticated travellers alike. This month, LUXE lovelies Tonya Higgins and Eleani Purcell spill the beans on their best Melbourne spots.

Most mornings we get a flat white at Axil on Flinders Lane or head to Andrew McConnell’s brekkie stalwart Cumulus Inc. The bar above, Cumulus Up, is great for an after-work wine but, when the weather is good, Arbory – right on the river – has a great atmosphere and pours Brooklyn Lager. Due warning: if you want a seat later in the week, you need to arrive before 5pm.

For dinner, fail-safe stalwarts are Izakaya Den for sashimi share plates and sake (it’s also a great business lunch option) or Supernormal for fresh oysters and a lobster roll.

In A Nutshell

When looking for restaurants, avoid main-vein Swanston Street in favour of the surrounding laneways or get out of the centre to epicurean areas Windsor, Richmond and Collingwood. Remember the four-seasons-in-one-day weather and bring a brolly and sunscreen whatever time of year you’re here.

Day Trip

Hit the Great Ocean Road for the beautiful empty beaches, bushland and quaint towns between Torquay and Warrnambool. The highlights are Bells Beach, Lorne, Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles. 

Where the Business Crowd Meet and Greets

George Calombaris’ Greek street food kitchen Gazi is a lunchtime favourite for suits and media movers. Old-school Grossi Florentino Grill is the finance industry go-to. Rooftop bar Siglo draws business players and pollies (it’s opposite Parliament House), and super swish Lui Bar is best for views. But in fanatically foodie Melbourne nothing impresses more than the latest hotspots and right now those are degustation fine diner Ides and boutique wine gem Bar Liberty

Where to Eat, Sleep, Play

Saint Crispin
Elegantly austere, upcycled factory space where mod-Oz eats, good wine and a cool crowd mix it up. Don’t miss little cocktailer Thomas Olive upstairs.
Saint Crispin, 300 Smith Street, Collingwood. +61 3 9419 2202, saintcrispin.com.au
Tough-chic underground warehouse with Adam D’Sylva’s stylish south-east Asian bites.
Coda, 141 Flinders Lane (enter via Oliver Lane), CBD. +61 3 9650 3155, codarestaurant.com.au

Indian eatery from the same stable as Coda.
Tonka, 20 Duckboard Place, CBD. +61 3 9650 3155, tonkarestaurant.com.au

St Ali
Shrine to the java bean, with roasters on site in a chic hangar-like space. High beard count and cracking brekkie fare.
St Ali, 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne. +61 3 9686 2990, stali.com.au

Crown Metropol
Hip, contemporary haven with mod-Oz Mr Hive eatery and 28th-floor Skybar Lounge. Party on, then recover at the Isika Spa with stellar high-rise infinity pool.
Crown Metropol, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank. +61 3 9292 8888, crownhotels.com.au/crown-metropol-melbourne

Ovolo Laneways
Top value and central location. Studio rooms with workspaces and free snacks but no restaurant.
Ovolo Laneways, 19 Little Bourke Street, CBD. +61 3 8692 0777, ovolohotels.com/en/hotels/melbourne/ovolo-laneways

The Olsen
Southside sanctuary with a spa, salon, glass-bottomed pool and restaurants Spoonbill and Steer, plus John O’s arty bits throughout.
The Olsen, 637-641 Chapel Street, South Yarra. +61 3 9040 1222, artserieshotels.com.au/olsen

Hidden Secrets Tours
Walking tours of shops, architecture, art and more.
Hidden Secrets Tours +61 3 9663 3358 hiddensecretstours.com

Victorian Yacht Charters
Sail off from Brighton Beach to dip-tastic Half Moon Bay or down to Mornington for quiet beaches and across-the-water cityscapes. Overnight, B&B luxury yacht stays are also available.
Royal Brighton Yacht Club, 253 Esplanade, Brighton. 1300 304 992, victorianyachtcharters.com.au 

This article originally appeared on the Australian Financial Review, May 9, 2016.

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