The Edgey Escape - Where to Eat, Spend and Stay in Melbourne
BY SOPHIE CHUNG
After visiting all the tourist destinations, the real fun starts in exploring the funky eateries and night vibes this creative city has to offer.
22 JUL - 2019
When the daily grind becomes a drab and you’re in need of inspiration, Melbourne isn’t too far to satiate your cosmopolitan cravings.
There’s nowhere better to base yourself than in the swanky QT Melbourne, nestled smack bang in the city centre offering killer room views. Transforming the building’s function as a cinema into a luxury boutique pad, the space has been kitted out with contrasting materials to exude a refined pop-industrial vibe.
Steel, timber, brass, copper and stone work together cohesively with warm lighting and an array of edgy art in various mediums such as neon sculptures and video, to emanate an opulent Manhattan personality. Glam yet quirky, broody yet cheeky, seductive with a strong game; the lobby space provides a distinctive theatrical experience in classic QT fashion.
It’s interesting to see that the latest 5-star joints are offering more of itself than just a ‘place to stay.’ People are becoming more demanding of a high-end experience that’s supported by detailed design quality and meaningful art that’s injected with local history and vitality. Depth and layers in meaning and storytelling are what the overexposed and spoilt travelers crave.
Catering to the generation that loves to be overwhelmed by this abundance, we can only imagine the mood board for this hotel would’ve been formidable. The unlikely balance from the amalgamation of different weighted textures will have you hooked on its aesthetics and most likely light a desire to visit all the QTs across Oceania.
Ahead of my trip, I managed to score a QT Deluxe King room with an impressive discount on booking.com - winning! For the deal queens, signing up to emailers are a great way to pick up rooms at last minute rates. Streamlining the decision-making process, it didn’t take long to choose which hotel I’d reside at as QT was the top pick for Melbourne hotels.
A quick glance at the galleries and its premium location, QT is always a no-brainer after comparing it against old and stuffy 5-stars or large sculptural buildings that fail to cater for the human scale.
Extending the exposed concrete element into the rooms, the guest rooms maintain the raw and industrial aesthetic. Showcasing the Melbourne cityscape with a view that stretches across the entire back wall, you’ll get used to the bright light-flooded room that makes you feel like you own the world.
The attention to detail is immaculate - oak herringbone floors, leather couches, graphic patterned materials, artwork and exposed lighting - elegance and exquisite quality are championed here.
The main wow factor with this room is architecture flow. The walls all open up to the bedroom and view to further emphasize the luxury of generous space in a CBD hotspot and successfully gives off a welcoming homely atmosphere.
Some people love to plan their vacays, zoning maps with different colour codes and creating morning-til-night timetables to squeeze everything in. And then there’s me who prefers to wing my travel activities after sorting out the best accom. Considering this perhaps diabolical and reckless tendency to purely depend on serendipitous moments, my trips have become a lot more memorable by being a fearless ‘yes’ woman to anything and everything.
Ticking off touristy stuff is all well and good until it becomes, quite frankly, boring. I prefer to hunt down designer garage sales to look the part without murdering my wallet; and curate a bar-hopping experience in each Melbournian neighbourhood. Nothing gives me more pleasure than treating my taste buds with out-of-home flavors and imbibing in the sunlight to under the stars. Yes, it’s all day and all night for the Chung. Expect nothing less of a commitment. And yes, I do always end up bed-ridden but that’s what the pharmacy is for.
Eat & Drink
When it comes to picking eateries and bars, my not-so-ingenious process is a direct face-to-face Q&A with a 5-star hotel receptionist - they’re usually the encyclopedias of the local scene and friendliness is mandatory, so why not ask a real-life Mr. Jeeves?
It’s easier and way more accurate than scouring the internet or blogs (let alone trying to figure out if you’ll be disappointed by the lying hype of a sponsored post) to simply target the socialite at the reception desk and jot down where she recommends for the best hotspots. There may be a referral program going on between the hotel and restaurants but you can always specify your inclination for cuisines and atmospheres.
The aforementioned receptionist was tall, blonde, stylish, of exquisite physique and oozed a much-suited poshness. My travel partner Stacy was suffering from a severe case of the hangries and was sceptical of the recommendation that this intimidatingly beautiful woman gave to us… until love at first sight of someone else’s food. Just a five minute stroll to Flinders Lane from QT, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a spread of oysters, kingfish, tuna, cocktails, wine and lobster rolls.
Immersing yourself in a red, neon-lit mirror-maze where you can’t see what you’re eating, is a must-do. It’s one of those environments where you can find a protagonist of a Euro movie getting lost on the way to the bathroom. To be completely honest, it reminds me of the scenes in Legion where his demons lurk. It gives off a very underground New York vibe but the food is very much the popular Asian-fusion cuisine-type which accounts for most of the hippity hop Melburnian hotspots.
"Depth and layers in meaning and storytelling are what the overexposed and spoilt travelers crave."
A Little More
Set in a Victorian villa facing the Royal Botanical Gardens, Entrecôte is a South Yarra institution and truly bourgeoisie. Think ‘Posh in Paris’ with oysters, champagne and steak frites - serving classics with French finesse. An award-winning breakfast spot, they host a variety of events like Bottomless Brunch and Jazz Sundays - it’s an enchanting vintage space that’ll make you squeal (or a croaky nasal ‘Oh my Goooood’ ) once you find sweet relief in the blissful hangover cure to come.
Rooftop at QT
When you stay at QT, take advantage of the rooftop bar as it’s exclusivity is apparent. Packed to the brim come 10pm, having a keycard may come in handy when you want to experience this lavish practice of hedonistic sipping. Get there early in your edgiest outfit to catch the skyline and a snap at sundown with an Old Fashioned.