23 Feb 2018
The Cullen Art Series Hotel [164 Commercial Road, Prahran] is regarded as one of Melbourne’s finest hotels, and a stay here shows just why. Positioned in the eclectic suburb of Prahran, it’s a boutique hotel inspired by and featuring, original artworks from Australian artist Adam Cullen. With car parking available (book in advance) and with tram and train connections nearby, it’s the perfect base for exploring Melbourne.
Depending on the time you arrive, hopefully you’ll be ready for your first taste of Melbourne. Chapel Street, just around the corner, is alive with dining and drinking options so take a right at the intersection of Commercial Road and Chapel Street and head south to explore the strip.
If hearty fare is what you’re craving, try Borsch Vodka & Tears [173 Chapel Street, Prahran]. Styled after a Kraków cellar bar, it’s a Melbourne institution specialising in Polish vodka, authentic wormwood absinthe, Eastern European beers and Polish cuisine. For something lighter but with just as much kick, Hanoi Hannah [180 High Street, Prahran) serves up sumptuous hawker-style Vietnamese food. They don’t take reservations, so just put your name on the list and then grab a drink at one of the myriad bars down Chapel Street; they’ll call you when your table is ready.
Start your Saturday like many Melburnians with breakfast at Australia’s oldest continually-running market, Prahran Market [163 Commercial Road, Prahran]. Browse the deli section for the powerful scents of cured meats and cheeses, pick up some mouth-watering fresh produce from the plethora of fresh fruit and veggie purveyors, and simply sit back with a coffee in hand and watch the locals go about their Saturday morning ritual.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, The Essential Ingredient [Prahran Market, Elizabeth Street, Prahran] runs cooking classes most weekends, usually starting at 10am on either Saturday or Sunday and running for 3-5 hours (prices vary from $95-$275, bookings essential). Be taught by some of the Melbourne dining scene’s current crop of stars and learn about the techniques that go into some of your favourite dishes.
St Kilda is the next stop on this culinary expedition and Melbourne’s tram network will get you there easily. Catch the #72 tram heading west from outside the Prahran Market, then change to the #16 at the corner of Commercial and St Kilda Roads. The #16 will take you down iconic Fitzroy Street, around The Esplanade and along Acland Street in the heart of St Kilda.
If the sun’s shining, make a pit stop at St. Hotel [54 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda] for a fragrant Thai snack and glass of wine, Circa, The Prince [2 Acland Street, St Kilda] to enjoy one of the finest menus in St Kilda, or The Vineyard Bar & Restaurant [71a Acland Street, St Kilda] for an early drink in the sunny beer garden.
Otherwise, hop off the tram at the top of Acland Street and wander down this artistic and delicious strip. Casual dining options abound, but the Acland Street Village is best-known for its range of cake shops. Europa Cake Shop [81 Acland Street, St Kilda] is just one of the many options available where you can sink your teeth into a macaroon, fruit and custard tart, or any number of chocolate-laden sweets.
While you’re on Acland Street, take some time to visit the retailers in the village. Eclectico [163a Acland Street, St Kilda] brings together jewellery and clothing from South America, Spain and southeast Asia for you to browse. For a literary reminder of your trip to Melbourne, pick up a best-seller, a niche novel or a humble cookbook from Melbourne’s most recognised independent retailer of books, music and film, Reading’s Bookstore [112 Acland Street, St Kilda].
Depending on the time, you might find it easier to hop into a taxi to take you back to your hotel to get yourself fancied up for dinner, or you could enjoy the reverse trip on the tram. Either way, once you are back at your hotel room put on your best dress and finest suit because tonight is a night for extravagance!
For dinner on top of the world, you can’t go past Vue de Monde [Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne]. Perched on level 55 of Melbourne’s iconic Rialto building, Shannon Bennett’s revered menu and a view to die for combine for an unforgettable night of dining and decadence. Note, reservations are absolutely essential. Early evening reservations must be flipped after a maximum of two hours (i.e. if you book for 6:15pm, you’ll have to be out by 8:15pm), so if you’ve got nowhere else to be we strongly recommend booking a table for later in the evening. You might have to book a date further ahead, but it’s definitely worth it.
Recognised as the best restaurant in Australia, Attica [74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea] certainly deserves its prestigious rating. Again, reservations are a must – be ready on the first Wednesday of the month at 9am, when reservations open for three months ahead of time (i.e. bookings for the month of December were released at 9am on Wednesday 2 September).
With last night’s meal – and quite possibly the accompanying wine – resulting in a slightly foggy start to Sunday morning, one sure-fire way to blow out the cobwebs is with a strong caffeine hit. Melbourne’s city streets and laneways overflow with coffee, and even on a Sunday morning there are options on every corner. Choose your mode of transport and start your day at Operator 25 [25 Wills Street, Melbourne] on the north side of the city. A breakfast favourite and located in a heritage-listed original telephone exchange building, it is well-known for its premium coffee selection.
After breakfast, it’s time to experience one of the most iconic shopping experiences in the city at the Queen Victoria Market [Corner Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, Melbourne]. Spend the morning strolling the huge sheds selecting trinkets and treasures to take home, before delving deep into the fresh food section. Bring your own bag and fill it until it overflows with ripe fruit, tomatoes and cucumbers, cheese and meats from one of the sellers in the deli section, and a loaf of sourdough from M & G Caiafa [66-70 Dairy Hall, Queen Victoria Market].
Next, take advantage of the Free Tram Zone in the city centre and catch any tram heading down Elizabeth Street. When you get off at the intersection of Flinders Street, walk east towards, then through, Federation Square (known by locals as Fed Square). The area between Fed Square and the Yarra River, known as Birrarung Marr [Batman Avenue, Melbourne], is the perfect place to lay all of that fresh food out and enjoy a Sunday picnic.
When you’ve finished your lunch and tossed the crumbs to the birds, satisfy your artistic curiosity by visiting the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia [Federation Square, Corner Flinders and Russell Streets, Melbourne] in Fed Square, the world’s premier Australian art gallery. After that, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) [Federation Square, Corner Flinders and Russell Streets, Melbourne] next door is where some of the city’s grandest exhibitions show, and is also home to Screen Worlds, a permanent exhibition celebrating the history of film, television, games and anything else mankind has done on screen over the past century.
All that culture will probably have you feeling peckish again, so for dinner, cross Flinders Street to MoVida [1 Hosier Lane (off Flinders Street), Melbourne] or her neighbouring sister MoVida Next Door [164 Flinders Street (corner of Hosier Lane), Melbourne], two of Melbourne’s finest Spanish restaurants. With tapas varieties to satisfy any palate, the convivial atmosphere inside makes for another unforgettable dinner. Bookings are recommended for MoVida, whereas the more casual MoVida Next Door takes walk-ins only.
After dinner, take in the view of Melbourne’s skyline at night as you wander across Princess Bridge towards the Arts Precinct. Arts Centre Melbourne [100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne] opens its doors to all sorts of performing arts, from classical ballet to avant-garde music and everything in between. Melbourne Theatre Company often stage their plays in one of the theatres here, or at Southbank Theatre [140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank] just around the corner.
Need some help getting from A to B so you can discover Melbourne?
Just pop your starting point and where you want to go into the PTV Journey Planner, as well as your ideal departure or arrival time.
The Planner will find the easiest way for you to get where you want to go, plus give you easy-to-follow instructions on how to get there.
For more information, visit ptv.vic.gov.au