Sojourn to savour in the heart of Melbourne
There are 6500 restaurants in Melbourne's CBD, so we have to stand out.
So said the general manager of Melbourne's DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.
The number seems extraordinary, even though he had obviously included eateries from hole-in-the wall takeaways to Michelin-star fantasies, cutting-edge bistros and trendy bars.
Certainly, you can't walk more than a few steps in this energetic city without being tempted by food and drink, so we took the GM's word for it.
We had just finished a DoubleTree by Hilton signature cocktail at the time, a creamy concoction of vodka, chocolate liqueur and chocolate chip cookie crumbs shaken over ice, so who were we to question anything?
The chocolate chip cookie is a signature of Hilton Hotels. Every guest receives a large warm cookie at check-in and it's all but impossible not to devour it before you've reached your room. Seventy-five thousand cookies are given out worldwide every day.
As for the Melbourne hotel's stand-out cuisine, that's more than covered in its Platform 270 restaurant on the ground floor, with snazzy open kitchen and a menu featuring international food that competes easily with those thousands of eateries in town.
Highlights are plenty: lamb and fetta fritters with preserved lemon, crispy skin duck breast on brioche, steamed Mt Martha mussels with chorizo and green tomato. Also, tapas, shared plates, sliders and side dishes make it easy to get through much of the menu with a group of mates.
A separate steak menu delivers whoppers, from a 300g angus grass-fed scotch to 48-hour cooked short ribs.
Apart from food, wine, cocktails and cookies, the hotel has that other essential factor: location. Opposite the historic Flinders Street Station, everything that defines the exhilarating city of Melbourne is right on the doorstep.
Federation Square, with its cultural events, tourist attractions and open piazza ambience, is 50m away. A short walk takes you to the National Gallery of Victoria and the heady fun of Southbank.
Then there are Melbourne's laneways, with their street art and hidden doors leading to mysterious bars waiting to be discovered.
Melbourne's city shopping is equal to that anywhere in the world, whether it's trawling the glam floors in Myer or David Jones, seeking the luxe boutiques in the Grand Arcade or finding a funky fashion store down a small side street.
Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Melbourne and make the most of the city. The days are mild so you can walk until your feet ache. The nights are cool enough to enjoy a glass of wine by Hilton's open fire in the lobby, anticipating snuggling under your doona in your room with its Sweet Dreams bedding after a shower with Crabtree and Evelyn products.
Previously called Citigate, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel opened in 2014 in the Flinders St location after a multi-million-dollar refurb.
It is a boutique hotel of 180 rooms with modern design reflecting the cool style of Melbourne. Artisan details and custom-made features, from commissioned black and white photography to the curved bed-headboards, all add to the welcoming chic.
A city escape renews you, gives a taste of another lifestyle full of promise and opportunities and Melbourne delivers on all counts.
The writer was a guest at DoubleTree by Hilton. Read Ann's musings at annrickard.com