Located opposite the Royal Botanic Gardens in leafy South Yarra, United Places is a seductive new boutique den with textured walls, designer couches, velvet curtains and only 12 spacious suites. Don’t expect to find a reception desk or an atrium here. Instead, prepare yourself for a moodily lit hallway – a nod to the city’s laneways – with a striking light sculpture by Laura Woodward. Upstairs, the suites are just as mesmerising, with glass-incased showers (thankfully, reflective) plonked in the middle of the rooms. The hotel’s biggest win, however, is Scott Pickett’s onsite restaurant Matilda 159 Domain, which supplies (complimentary) next-level breakfast to the suites every morning.
United Places is a 15-minute drive to the CBD and about 30 minutes from Melbourne Airport. Situated opposite the Botanic Gardens, it offers unbeatable access to more than 40 hectares of lush lawns and vegetation as well as walking trails, including the 3.8-kilometre-long Tan Track, revered by locals. The hotel is also a leisurely 30 minutes walk to one of the city’s best food experiences, Prahran Market, where Maker and Monger’s cheese toasties are a must-try, along with mince-stuffed eggplant from Sweet Greek.
Starting at 66 square metres, the suites at United Places are spacious to say the least. But, here, it’s not so much about how much real estate you have, but about how it has been utilised. Melbourne-based Carr Design Group (the architects of the Mornington Peninsula’s sensational Jackalope hotel) have given their Midas touch to the suites at United Spaces, breaking up larger zones into intimate ones with leather-lined velvet curtains that glide across the room at the touch of button. Patricia Urquiola-designed suede couches grace the living rooms that effortlessly open on to green views if you happen to book a Botanic Garden-facing room, while custom-made ceramics, Le Labo amenities and organic cotton sheets raise the bar in the kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms respectively.
Food and drink
In an age when chefs are obsessed with incorporating cutting-edge technology into their kitchens, Scott Pickett is going back to the basics, cooking everything on blazing coals or, better still, naked fire at his newly launched restaurant, Matilda 159 Domain, located on the ground floor of United Places. The result is impossibly well-cooked seafood and perfectly seared meats with natural earthiness and smokiness. One bite of the delicate tiger flathead or the rustic rib eye and you’ll know what we mean. The restaurant also delivers complimentary breakfast to the hotel’s suites every morning, with offerings such as cured salmon with salsa verde.
For business travellers
United Places is ideal for luxury and leisure travellers, and for business travellers willing to switch off.
For wellness travellers
There’s isn’t a swimming pool, gym or spa on site, but the hotel can orchestrate in-room massages and personal-training sessions in the Botanic Gardens across the road. The pièce de résistance, however, are private yoga sessions that guests can book at Fauna Yoga. Located a few doors down the road from United Places, the venue boasts two excellent spaces. Settle down with your personal guru in the studio with a roaring fire if the weather is cold, or take your asanas to the next level on the rooftop if the sun is smiling. .
The fab factor
South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s oldest and most affluent suburbs and United Places offers a homely environment, so it’s easy to pretend – even if it’s just for a moment – you’re a local.
Number of rooms: 12 suites
Rates from: $650
Wi-fi: Free and fairly fast
Parking: There’s plenty of street parking nearby, or $30 for valet parking
Address: 157 Domain Road, South Yarra
Telephone: (03) 9866 6467