Your luxury guide to Melbourne
Dale Campisi, Author of the guidebook Melbourne Precincts, invites you to wander the streets and laneways of Victoria's trendy capital to find the best shopping, drinking and dining haunts. Here we’ve compiled some select excerpts from the book with a few additional experiences for the luxury traveller.
By Dale Campisi | Published #69, Autumn 2017
Chapel St, South Yarra
Chapel Street, South Yarra, has for years been a hotspot for fashion and shopping. There’s plenty of car parking in the area, South Yarra train station is right near the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street, and trams also criss-cross the area. Shopping now extends north of Toorak Road, where you’ll find the Yarra Lane precinct – home to the Olsen Hotel, Le Louvre haute couture, local brunch hotspot Two Birds One Stone, macaron magnate Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie, and craft beer and cider specialists Tru Bru. The Como Centre on the south-eastern corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street is home to Napoleon Perdis cosmetics, and the arthouse Como Cinema is here too. Country Road’s megastore (women’s, men’s and kids’ clothing, and homewares too) anchors the south-western corner of this intersection. Across the road is bright and bold Finnish design house Marimekko, where you can buy iconic fabric straight from the bolt, or browse an eye‑popping range of clothes and homewares. Further up the road in the historic Jam Factory are Top Shop’s flagship stores for men and women, and next door is American homewares retailer West Elm. Australian fashion designers are also well represented on Chapel Street, from the whimsical Alannah Hill to rascally Honor Among Thieves, Scanlan & Theodore, LIFEwithBIRD, Alice McCall, Arthur Galan, Gorman, Saba, Ksubi, Sass & Bide and the sustainably elegant Cylk. Phew!
Of course it doesn’t all end there. Shopping on Chapel Street extends right through to Prahran and Windsor, where you’ll find all manner of new and vintage stores in a range of architecturally interesting buildings. Chapel Street still pumps at night too with restaurants and bars aplenty. The iconic Chasers nightclub reinvents itself every Saturday night with a dance extravaganza called Poof Doof.
Captains of Industry
Level 1, 2 Somerset Pl, Melbourne
(03) 9670 4405
Open Sat–Thurs 9am–5pm, Fri 9am–11pm
Get a haircut, get fitted for a pair of shoes, or sit down for a coffee and a gourmet sandwich and stare across the street at the GPO. Bespoke clothing ain’t cheap, nor is it easily attainable (the waiting list for shoes often exceeds six months) but, as my mother always says, you get what you pay for. There’s a slick range of hair products available at the front counter, and at Christmas time you’ll find jams and pickles, courtesy of some of the captains’ mums.
Eat & drink
20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne
Open Mon–Sat 5pm–1am
Melbourne’s bar scene is sophisticated and complex, perhaps best illustrated by this little hole in the wall. It’s certainly Melbourne’s smallest bar, with standing room only for about a dozen people. This means you’ll probably only stay for one or two cocktails. The cocktail list is as small as the bar, but that just means the quality is distilled. Try the Negroni – the bartender’s drink is always a measure of quality, and it won’t disappoint. Note: no bookings, no wi-fi, no pictures.
114 Berkeley St, Carlton
(03) 9347 8664
Open Mon–Sat 7am–5pm, Sun 8am–5pm
Seven Seeds is a giant on the Melbourne cafe scene, and this warehouse cafe is also home to the brand’s roastery. Coffee is made on La Marzocco Strada espresso machines, as well as pourover, Aeropressed and coldbrewed. Numerous varieties are available (for home use too). Cupping (tasting) sessions (A$4) are held at 9am on Fridays. Sessions last one hour and all proceeds go to charity. Breakfast (pancake stacks, baked eggs) is great here, among the hubbub of coffee lovers.
The Olsen Hotel
637–641 Chapel St, South Yarra
(03) 9040 1222
The five-star full-service Olsen Hotel on Chapel Street is part of the acclaimed Art Series, and features the work of Archibald Prize–winning artist John Olsen throughout. Inspired by the artist from tip to toe, the hotel has 229 suites with all the five-star hotel services you expect, as well as bicycle, scooter and car hire to get you around South Yarra and beyond. There’s also a day spa and a hair salon, as well as the all-occasion seasonal-focused Spoonbill restaurant.
The service at the Olsen is impeccable, and the staff will open the door to the neighbourhood with their impressive local knowledge.
Dine, see & explore
74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea
(03) 9350 0111
In Ripponlea, seven kilometres south of the CBD, you’ll find in Attica, arguably the best table in Australia, let alone Melbourne. The restaurant was listed No. 33 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year – the list’s only Australian entrant.
Head chef and owner Ben Shewry offers an extended tasting menu for A$250 per person, with the option to match wines for an additional A$175. Shewry’s thoughtful menu features dishes like Gazza’s Vegemite pie, salted red kangaroo and bunya bunya, and whipped emu egg with sugar bag. There’s a completely vegetarian tasting menu too.
Shewry’s dishes are modern and balanced, and he draws inspiration from his childhood in New Zealand as well as his environment in Australia.
Attica is such a hotspot,
bookings are released on a month-to-month basis, three months in advance (meaning, if you’re ready to book now, the earliest you’ll get a table is June this year). The restaurant also has a private dining space for up to 12 people.
Sophie Gannon Gallery
2 Albert St, Richmond
(03) 9421 0857
Occupying an unassuming corner block in Richmond’s art precinct, Sophie Gannon Gallery doesn’t look much from the exterior. However, behind the brick walls and industrial signage lays one of Australia’s premium contemporary galleries. Established by Melbourne art dealer Sophie Gannon in 2006, the commercial space began with a stable of six and now represents 27 leading established and emerging Australian and New Zealand artists working across painting, sculpture, installation, photography and ceramics. High-profile names like 2001 Archibald Prize winner Nicholas Harding have been with Gannon from the start, while the gallery has expanded to include Melbourne jeweller, taxidermist and artist Julia deVille, and the velvet paintings of tattooist and artist Leslie Rice. Always striving to strike the balance between commercial and critical success, this is one Australian gallery that maintains a diverse stable of artists and a consistent exhibition program.
(03) 9663 3358
Overwhelmed by choice in Melbourne? Then take a progressive degustation with Hidden Secrets Tours to get the inside word on the city’s food and wine scene.
These three-hour small group tours of between just three and eight guests (including your guide) visit three stalwart city restaurants and bars. Each is uniquely Melbourne, and provides three food and wine “flights” – tapas-sized dishes matched with wine, beer and even sake.
It’s just a short walk between venues, during which time your guide can impart their knowledge of the city’s architecture and history or hot tips on where to grab a late-night gelato, the breakfast of your dreams or hit the pavement for your morning run. Prices start from A$170 per person.
- Dale Campisi
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Weather to go
Renowned for the phrase "four seasons in one day", the weather in Melbourne is often highly unpredictable. Summers (Dec-Feb) are generally hot with occasional heat waves where temperatures rise upwards of 40 degrees Celcius. Winter (June-Aug) is relatively cold for Australian standards and sees strong winds and frosts at night.
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