elbourne is having a mini vintage revival with a slew of new speakeasy bars, fashion boutiques, accommodation, and a new inner-city spa — making it the perfect time to plan a girls getaway to the vibrant city.
With its seductive network of atmospheric laneways and elegant Victorian arcades, Melbourne has always been an enchanting city to shop. Flinders Lane, Little Collins Street and the network of laneways fanning out from Degreaves Street are all brilliant spots to uncover intimate specialist stores selling shoes, lingerie, handbags, vintage and tailor-made clothing and jewelry.
Go down an alleyway, through a hidden door or up a set of stairs to find a vibrant community of designers and craftspeople – including jewellers, milliners, textile manufacturers, shoemakers and tailors. Alice Euphemia, Lenko, Harry Wragg, Leonard St, Green with Envy, Obus, Lord Coconut and Alpha 60 are just some of the Melbourne designers and boutiques to be found in the laneways.
A Hidden Secrets Lanes & Arcades Tour (AUD$115pp) will help visitors uncover some of the more significant or unusual boutiques and personalities in the city. For real collectors, specialist tour, A Vintage Outing by Hidden Secrets, (AUD$245pp) is a great day out with the girls taking in the most wonderfully eclectic vintage finds in Melbourne.
Of course Melbourne is also home to luxury designer brands. The top end of Collins Street (known locally as the Paris end) features an elegant tree-lined boulevard with impressive architecture, five-star hotels and the ‘whose who’ of designer clothing, style and glamour. Gucci, Georg Jensen, Louis Vuitton, Rolex and the recently reopened Tiffany and Co., which has doubled in size, can be found here.
Just south of the city centre is Melbourne’s answer to Rodeo Drive, High Street, Armadale, and it’s definitely worth the 30 minute tram ride. Brides to be will be particularly happy with the range of wedding dress boutiques and jewellery. Melbourne designer Kirrily Johnston with her gorgeous collection of bold colours and shapely clothes has her flagship store here. Arabella Ramsay also opened her store in Armadale before expanding to the city. Ramsay’s style is described as whimsical and directional. High Street Armadale is also home to many exclusive stores you won’t find anywhere else both nationally and internationally including emerging designer Megan Park’s, Love me and Leave Me, boutique.
When it is time for afternoon tea, book a spot at Melbourne’s historic Windsor Hotel where the delicate finger sandwiches, chocolates, cakes and real tea (from silver teapots) may be accompanied by a glass of bubbly.
The Grand Hyatt, which has just completed its classically elegant new makeover, also offers a traditional afternoon tea in the open plan Collins Kitchen.
For an alfresco afternoon tea with a difference, head up three flights of stairs to Madame Brussels, a ‘rather fancy terrace and public house’ and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea with scones, cupcakes, sausage rolls and jugs of chilled Pimms.
No girl’s trip is complete without a spot of pampering. New spa in town Miss Fox, which is hidden up a flight of stairs off Little Collins Street, combines Hollywood glamour with vintage charm to deliver a gorgeous salon and day-spa with a champagne and martini bar. Offering a full spectrum of cosmetic, therapeutic and grooming services, Miss Fox is already popular amongst those in the know thanks to its seven treatment rooms, two relaxation areas, private wellness consultation rooms and extensive grooming lounge, which can all be enjoyed with a signature cocktail martini or glass of bubbles. Staff here are all experts in their fields and have worked with many well-known celebrities.
Ready for the evening ahead and girls are spoilt for choice for eating in Australia’s food fanatical city. Share plates and grazing food has definitely taken the spot of one plate eating in Melbourne and this sits perfectly with discerning female diners.
Chin Chin in Flinders Lane is one of the most talked about restaurants in town and an ideal share plate option. Low-key in design, Chin Chin is about making a statement through its dishes that come inspired by the varied regions of Thailand, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and even India. The emphasis is on great value shared plates, such as fresh roti breads, potent curries and delicious pho soups that are high on aromatics. Mamasita at the top end of the city, serving authentic Mexican cuisine and arguably the best Margaritas in Melbourne is another extremely popular option.
Ocean fresh seafood is the order of the day at new restaurant, The Atlantic, located by the water in the Crown Entertainment Complex, and inspired by the famous New York fish market in the meat packing district. For after dinner cocktails girls should head to one of Melbourne’s new speakeasy style bars. A new addition to the perennially cool Gertrude Street is The Everleigh, an elegant bar created in the style of the 1920s inspired by New York’s legendary venue Milk & Honey. The Everleigh specialises in classic cocktails, old fashioned fizzes and sours reflective of the era. The skilled bar staff can also create drinks especially tailored to the individual customer’s palate.
Just around the corner on Brunswick Street is The Attic, guests ring the bell for admittance ensuring no overcrowding and giving the bar a VIP feel.
Victoria is a small but very diverse part of Australia, and one of the advantages is that within a short drive of the city are a whole range of options for a holiday within a holiday.
Australia’s richest concentration of mineral springs was discovered last century in the town of Daylesford. Since then the area is dedicated to well being and natural therapies. Utilising the abundant mineral springs and geothermal waters there is in an ever-growing number of sophisticated health and wellness spas and retreats and is a very popular retreat for groups of women.
The Lake House restaurant and boutique hotel in Daylesford is frequently featured among Australia’s most luxurious accommodation. New addition, The Retreat is a secluded luxury Country House within the grounds of Lake House. The Retreat draws together elements of truly stylish, elegant country living with its high level of comfort, unique furnishings, private art collection and an intelligently selected library. Perfect for a truly sumptuous indulgence for two to four guests, The Retreat offers all of the advantages of the fabled Lake House within a totally private setting.
The neighbouring town of Hepburn Springs is home to Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa. Established in 1895 the venue has undergone a major multi-million dollar redevelopment and offers everything from private healing mineral baths, to massage, facials, body wraps and polishes, manicures and pedicures.
For accommodation in Hepburn, Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat is a grand 1930s guest house that has been transformed into a deluxe retreat with stylish art deco reception areas, leafy gardens and stunning courtyards.
The buzz here is all about the resort’s new restaurant, Wild Birch. Located in the elegant dining room of Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, the menus are created from seasonal local produce. The Wild Birch Dining Room is a foodie enthusiast’s heaven; merging European elegance with Australian inventiveness and wild country flavours. After dinner, sink into deep club chairs and sofas around roaring fires at the intimate Tipperary Bar + Lounge, one-part private club, and two-part return of old world glamour.
Written by Zoe Shurgold on behalf of Tourism Victoria.
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