Melbourne is the city of coffee shops, of many independent fashion labels and boutiques and of every imaginable cuisine. The streets reminded me of Europe - no one city in particular, just a general air of European culture and lifestyle in the way people dressed and in the style of cafes and trendy, hideaway bars and restaurants.
"If you see an unmarked, interesting looking door, enter it. It'll be one of Melbourne's many fantastic hole in the wall bars", we were advised. It was true - every single bar we went to was hidden down a dark and creepy alley, or through a dark, unassuming hallway and behind a black door in a regular bar, or up three floors from a jazz lounge and opening out onto a huge open air terrace. Melbourne, it seems, is a city for those in the know.
We ate a lot of gorgeous food - from Greek food at Hellenic Republic (owned by George Calombaris of Masterchef Australia) to Thai dishes at Longrain to an awesome pulled pork and apple bagel from some random cafe I barged into in a hungry, desperate state. If we were to go back, food would definitely be the aspect I'd want to explore more of!
We stayed at the Park Hyatt Melbourne. In all honestly, although the decor was charming and the public areas were up to typical Park Hyatt standards, the hotel was showing signs of wear and age and needs a revamp quite badly. At least, the rooms do. There were also minor mishaps when it came to staff - forgetting to restock water and used toiletries, particular members of the concierge acting slightly unprofessional at times, a mix up with taxis which caused us to be 30 minutes late for a very intimate wedding - no bueno!
On the positive side, the location is great, within easy walking distance of hundreds of shops, cafes, restaurants and department stores. We had a beautiful view of St. Patrick's cathedral and the executive lounge had an amazing range of alcohol in the open bar (from 6 - 8pm, if I recall correctly) as well as lovely ladies taking care of guests and replenishing the breakfast and evening buffets. All in all, it was still a pretty fabulous stay.