For a quintessentially Melbourne experience, follow the expert’s guide. Preston Forsyth, chief concierge at Crown Towers, gives us the brief.
Just like you can’t do New York without a trip to Williamsburg, you can’t do Melbourne without visiting St Kilda and Sunday is the perfect time to go. Your first stop should be Acland Street for breakfast or a sweet treat from one of my favourites, Monarch Cakes (monarchcakes.com.au) – it’s been around for more than 80 years. Work off your vanilla slice on one of the city’s most amazing bike trails, the St Kilda-to-Brighton route. Hire a bike from the Melbourne Bike Share station (melbournebikeshare.com.au) next to Luna Park and hit the waterside trail, with views of marvellous houses. Your reward at the end is the brightly coloured bathing boxes at Brighton.
These vein-like alleys weave through the CBD. My favourite time to visit is on a weekday morning, when the real energy can be felt. Grab breakfast at Cumulus Inc on Flinders Lane – I love the salmon gravlax bagel. For vibrant street art, you can’t go past Hosier Lane – if you’re lucky you might even chance upon a new work being created. The nearby Good 2 Go is the perfect place to stop for a caffeine kick but for lunch, head to authentic Italian café Brunetti. If you can’t find a dessert here that you like then you clearly aren’t a dessert person. The exceptional cannoli are made fresh each day.
This four-kilometre loop in the Royal Botanic Gardens takes you past the iconic Shrine of Remembrance and is where locals go to unwind at the end of the day, on their own or in running groups. Get there at around 5.30pm on a weekday and really feel the pulse of the city.
Melbourne comes to life in January as temperatures climb and tennis fever takes hold. Tickets to the Australian Open finals are pretty hard to come by but not impossible. From 2020, for the first time, the city’s hottest restaurants – including Attica, Vue de Monde and Chin Chin – will offer dining packages over the finals weekend, which will include two pre-match dinners and seats at the men’s and women’s finals.