2 October 2012

Melbourne’s Here and Now

Melbourne is up there as one of our favourite cities – the quirky laneways which entice you to find their secrets, shopping districts that will leave a hole in your pocket but a smile on your face, along with the array of unique bars and upmarket restaurants where you can greet the early hours. Melbourne is such an exciting place to be we’ve become envious of the locals, having this lifestyle at their fingertips.

HAPPY HOUR – DRINK

PSYCHIATRIC WARD COME DANCE FLOOR

Weaving through Chinatown you may think to take a shortcut, nipping down laneways in Melbourne comes as standard. But a wrong turn down Croft Alley, won’t be a GPS mistake but a secret discovery. After taking a right, and then a left and then another right you’ll stumble across The Croft Institute (the search is part of its appeal).

On the first of three floors you’ll encounter a science lab bar. With devilish alcoholic potions and an array of glassware, it’s the place to get a cocktail. We would advise you to take it easy on their house concoction, The Final Word (green chartreuse, bourbon, lime, maraschino liqueur), because they could be your last. Moving onto the second floor you can take a pit stop in the ‘department of hygiene’ (the toilet) as they embrace the theme of a mental institute – and yes, that is a hospital bed by the sink. The third and final floor will see you arrive back in the 70s, expect gym apparatus and a grass top bar. After too many cocktails join us on the dance floor as one of the resident DJ’s plays the night away.

WHAT’S ALL THE HOO HAA?

At the Windsor end of Chapel Street you will find the discreet gem – Hoo Haa. In one of Melbourne’s most vibrant precincts, it’s the place to see and be seen, and if you are planning a big night it’s the perfect place to start. Happy hour runs from 4-7pm, so cocktails and bubbles are definitely our request.

With fat boy sofas and exposed brick walls it gives the vibe of American Diner mixed with boutique chic. If you are starting your night here, then you can line you stomach with fare from their delicious menu. You’ll notice a lot of locals here on a Friday night, catching up with friends after work, before moving on to see where the rest of the night will take them. So with a cocktail in hand, recline on the sofa, and see where the night takes you.

GRUBS UP – EAT

SPANISH INFLUENCE

Tucked down a laneway covered in graffiti – it couldn’t get much more of a Melbourne attitude - MoVida Bar de Tapas serves up taste-tastic Spanish tapas seven days a week. To be guaranteed a seat in the dining room booking is absolutely necessary, but if you wing it, take a seat lined up along the bar, or cluster around the little window tables.

MoVida has become one of Melbourne’s must-go places, so to accommodate its expanding fan base they opened several more restaurants; Movida Next Door is the perfect place for pre-show beer and tapas, while the larger Movida Aqui has a charming terrace for alfresco eating in the summer months.

TRANSPORT ME

The Transport Hotel is in the hub of Federation Square. Made up of three levels it hosts Transit (top floor) cocktail bar and lounge, Transport (on the ground) public bar and, sandwiched between them, is Taxi – the dining room. A mix influence of Japanese sushi with Australian hearty meats, Taxi is a must, and with a lunch and evening menu you’ll have no reason to not try it. By making an evening reservation, you can migrate to Transit after for a night cap and live jazz.

Not only does it provide a great menu – you also get unprecedented views over main Melbourne. Yarra River and Flinders Stations light up the night in one direction and the iconic (and much loved by Melbournians) Melbourne Cricket Ground stands proud to the east of the city.

SHOPAHOLICS – SPEND

GO POSTAL

Melbourne city is a shopper’s dreamland. Fall in love with Aussie designers at Bourke Street’s GPO. Built in 1859, this grand Melbourne heirloom has recently morphed from the city’s postal hall to a fashion hub. Meander through 50 stores and three levels of the biggest names in Australian fashion, from the fun and colour of sass & bride to the sharp tailoring of Arthur Galan.

West of the city you will find DFO (Direct Factory Outlets) in South Wharf, one of Melbourne’s up-and-coming areas. It’s shopping heaven with outlet prices. Big brand names are dotted all over with some Aussie favourites too. And to rest your feet why not join the locals and sip cider at a riverside bar (The Wharf Hotel or Boatbuilders Yard are our picks) or see why Melbourne is raving about restaurant new-comer The Sharing House with its lego-tiled bar.

VINTAGE GREATS

Venture north of the city for an afternoon and stroll down the mile-long Brunswick Street in the bohemian enclave Fitzroy. Packed with boutique shops you can weave in and out tracking down vintage clothing and bespoke homeware, as well as endless music and books – it’s easy to get lost looking for unique gems. After collecting all your knick-knacks and, as the sun sets on another day, take a rest at one of the outdoor cafes and grab a bite to eat. Watch the sunlight shine the old style buildings making them glow in an evening dusk.

Words by Prudence Patterson

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