Striking good looks, top-notch dining and a stand-out spa mean even the skeptics will be wooed by Hotel Chadstone, whether they like shopping or not…
“I only drink champagne on two occasions. When I am in love, and when I am not.” These words from Coco Chanel certainly ring true when you’re a guest of the new Hotel Chadstone Melbourne. The quote is printed on a coaster, which sits under a complimentary bottle of sparkling water on the bedside table in my Deluxe Suite, and by the time I spot it I’m already two glasses of bubbles in. How did they know? Clearly, I’ve been set up – lured into a state of uninhibited self-indulgence by the room’s luxurious ambience. Or, it could just be that as a female in my early 30s, I am the ideal clientele for Hotel Chadstone. In fact, the property has has been entirely designed with women in mind.
In the room there’s a plush king size bed fit for a queen, a Chromecast-enabled Smart TV, a bluetooth speaker, gourmet mini-bar and a Nespresso machine solidifying the hotel’s five star tag. But there’s also a bathroom the size of a studio apartment with not only double basins and a freestanding tub, but a dressing table with a velvet stool and a makeup mirror as well as designer Balmain amenities that most women would swoon over (although the fact that the products are unsustainable minis doesn’t go unnoticed). They’ve really thought this through. The palette, too, is unashamedly feminine with a soothing wash of soft pink, grey, gold and white.
But it’s not all marshmallows and musk sticks at Hotel Chadstone, and thank goodness for that. The interior throughout the hotel sidesteps saccharine style with all the class you’d expect from a design-focused brand like MGallery by Sofitel (a part of Accor Hotels), and a global architecture firm like dwp. The emphasis, instead, is elegantly art deco, and it’s not hard to see where the $130 million it took to build the hotel, went.
Sexy, dark wood panelling, wallpapered walls, textured glass, tonnes of granite and marble of every colour imaginable, curated artworks and just the right amount of glamorous gold detailing; there are so many tactile qualities to the hotel I want to get all touchy-feely with everything I see. And the curves – oh, the curves! Arched doorways, globe lamps, round tables, circular sofas. Even my suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows are impressively convex, so that the outside of the building slightly resembles a woman’s figure (who needs right angles?). The view over the parking lot leaves a little to be desired, but then we are in the suburbs.
On first hearing about Hotel Chadstone, I was skeptical. As the name suggests, the hotel has been built right next door to Chadstone – The Fashion Capital, which is the largest shopping centre in Australia, located in the south-eastern suburb of Malvern East, 17 kilometres (about a 30-minute drive) from Melbourne’s CBD. I was skeptical about its suburban location, its possibly polarising female-skewed design, and its reliance on those visiting Melbourne for weekend shopping trips for bookings – especially when there are plenty of other places in the city to indulge in some retail therapy.
But, I guess there’s a reason Accor is in the business of hotels, and I just humbly write about them, because the hotel is, at is turns out, rather fabulous. Male guests – of which there are plenty – seem to be as content as the female, and underneath the gleaming first impressions is an experience that exceeds, in my opinion, that of the often outdated five star hotels currently found in Melbourne’s CBD.
Arriving in the hotel lobby I audibly “wow”d, struck by an overwhelming sense of expense and plenty of design drama. There’s an entire nook the hotel calls a ‘fashion and design library’, currently dedicated to Tiffany & Co and showcasing Tiffany Blue boxes and black-and-white photographs of Audrey Hepburn. Not to mention, it’s easy to completely lose track of time watching the mesmerising digital art projection dancing around on the opposite wall. There are so many things to admire in the lobby alone, It’s hard to know where to fix your gaze.
The spa, Holism, is equally gorgeous and feels like a real cocoon of calm in the ‘burbs. There are nine treatment rooms, a yoga studio and a wellness light lounge – although I’m not exactly sure what that is. I indulge in a Wellness Warrior facial, and having had my fair share of result-less facials over the years, am slightly taken aback when my skin noticeably glows for days afterwards, if I do say so myself. Like the rest of the hotel, aesthetic is a top priority at Holism, even down to the staff uniforms, which are noticeably on-trend and which I would happily wear myself, whether I worked at Holism or not. But under the picture-perfect exterior, again, is real substance, with the incredibly attentive staff demonstrating a level of professionalism, skill and knowledge found in top-tier city spas.
As for the the hotel’s two restaurants, they do not disappoint. Warm and comforting Pastore, located on the ground floor, is Chef Restaurateur Scott Pickett’s Italian-influenced all-day dining venue, serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pastore – the Italian word for ‘shepherd’ — honours the area’s heritage as a pasture and orchard, with a sharing menu that focuses on woodfire-fuelled cooking, creative antipasti (house-cured duck prosciutto, anyone?) and exceptional handmade pasta. Don’t skip the botanical cocktails or wine, either. There’s a strong wine list of Italian varietals from local producers, and plenty of premium pours offered by the glass thanks to an in-house Coravin system.
Sitting alongside the indoor pool on the top floor, meanwhile, is glamorous Altus with its views of the Dandenong Ranges and elegant ambience that nods to the great champagne bars of the world. An excellent high tea is served here, and on Saturdays and Sundays the place is brimming with tables of women sipping bubbles and taking photos of the mouth-watering tiered morsels and the wine glass chandelier hanging from the roof.
For those with a savoury palette, the spot makes an equally dreamy choice for a sundowner, thanks to those curvaceous, full-height windows. The dishes served at Altus are as tasty as they are beautiful, made with seasonal ingredients sourced from the Victorian countryside: zucchini blossoms with stracciatella, macadamia and romesco; lamb tenderloin with eggplant crème, feta, burnt orange glaze, kale and 3 cheeses… it’s all delicious, and a testament to the new wave of excellent locally-rooted Modern Australian cuisine coming out of kitchens across the country.
Much to my surprise, I even find myself rather taken with Chadstone – The Fashion Capital, and as I check out of Hotel Chadstone after two nights, I can see myself returning with my mother or a group of girlfriends for a weekend of shopping and pampering – which, of course, is exactly what the geniuses behind Hotel Chadstone predicted. The walk from the revolving door of the hotel lobby to the shopping centre takes under sixty seconds straight down a travelator with absolutely zero barriers to entry, so take this as a warning. Or don’t. As that champagne-loving fashion icon once said: “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to go shopping.” I think Coco Chanel would have been right at home at Hotel Chadstone.