Melbourne prides itself on its arts scene, coffee culture and frequent appearances on “most liveable city” lists. All accolades are well deserved – the Victorian capital has laneways packed with cafes and boutiques, an incredible arts precinct and world-class dining. And a hotel that matches the hype? The Cullen. The all-suite Prahran establishment – a member of the expanding “Art Series” group – recently won Boutique Style Accommodation Hotel of the Year from Tourism Accommodation Australia. Named in honour of contemporary artist Adam Cullen, this place sets the bar high.
Enter a suite and try to find a blank wall. Playful prints of Cullen works are everywhere, adding bursts of colour to otherwise monochrome spaces.
Uber-plush Art Series Signature Beds – made for the hotel by AH Beard – are so comfy, you may need to set a few alarms.
Suites have kitchenettes with a fridge and freezer, microwave, cooktop, toaster, kettle and sink. The minibar stocks locally produced Freckleberry chocolate, Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, a huge range of wine, beer and liqueurs – even art canvasses. The en-suite features a shower and bath, hairdryer and a range of EVO toiletries. Want to chill with a book? You’ll find something in the in-room “art library”.
Located on Commercial Road, not far from Chapel Street, The Cullen suits those who don’t want to stay in the CBD, but want to be within strolling distance of restaurants, cafes, bars and excellent shopping. To sample Melbourne’s flavour of the month, head to the trendy Mr Miyagi (try the kingfish ceviche). For a nightcap, try The Emerson, a bustling nightspot less than a minute’s walk from the hotel.
With two eateries on the ground floor, you don’t have to go far for a memorable Melbourne food experience. The New York-inspired Gramercy Social is airy, light-filled and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, choose between Sweet Potato Pancake with feta, Chocolate Babka French toast with vanilla mascarpone and the ever-popular avocado toast – this one with “broken eggs”, feta, chilli and herbs. For lunch, there’s a long list of American-style burgers. Our favourite? The Lower East Side (beef patty, pastrami, pickles, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing).
The sleek HuTong Dumpling Bar plates up favourites including Peking duck, scallops in XO sauce and, of course, pan-fried pork dumplings.
The well-equipped gymnasium on level six is open 24 hours a day. If you fancy a swim, head over to The Cullen’s nearby Art Series stable-mate The Olsen, where there’s a glass-bottom pool for guests. If public transport is not your thing, take advantage of the hotel’s bicycle, scooter and Smart Car hire.
Time to spare? Hayley Armstrong, Front Office Manager of The Cullen suggests visiting the nearby Anna Pappas Gallery. “Anna Pappas is a fantastic local art gallery. It's intimate with an upstairs and a downstairs exhibition area. If you go in the evenings, they quite often have opening nights where you can meet the artist,” says Armstrong
Die-hard art-lovers should book a tour with an in-house curator to check out the 400 pieces of Adam Cullen artwork on display throughout the hotel. The modern works will leave you intrigued and inspired.
LOCATION: 164 Commercial Road, Prahran, Victoria, 3181; (03) 90981555
PERFECT FOR: Leisure travellers/Culture vultures
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 119