5 reasons to love Melbourne

Style, culture and delish dining? I’m stopping over!

After three weeks in Asia, the Ginger and I dipped into wintry Melbourne for a quick stopover on our way home.

1. The hotel

I loved our choice this visit – The Como in South Yarra,an MGallery by Sofitel hotel, one of Accor’s more boutique collection. Our suite had a spiral staircase and three separate bathrooms, including one enormous round bath and – joy of joys – a sauna! Well, as you know, Gwyneth Paltrow believes a post-flight sauna gets rid of all flying evils, so I had two and used everything but the round bath.

Accordingly, I had my best night’s sleep in weeks. If you want a romantic hideaway for a shopping/eating/drinking spree, then this is definitely the place. Unleash your inner Austin Powers and head for The Como – yeah, baby!

We totally dug our groovy-chic digs at The Como in South Yarra. Oh, behave!

2. The shopping

A stroll down Chapel Street from the hotel netted a treasure trove of shopping opportunities for the Ginger and me.

He bought a lovely woollen hoodie from a shop just one block from our hotel and two pairs of shoes from a store called Carnaby St, while I bought ankle boots from Tony Bianco and a pair of woollen trousers from Scanlan Theodore. Around the corner in Toorak Road, I found a boutique called Fig, which had a sale of my favourite French knitwear. Result!

The Ginger, a reluctant shopper, bought two pairs

of shoes from Carnaby St.

3. A few tips

The Emporium in the CBD has everything you’ll ever need and more, and is a one-stop shop if you’re a mall person. Connected to David Jones and Myer, you practically need a map to get around – which reminds me, the laneways do weird things to the GPS on your phone. Be clever, unlike me, and use an actual map. Oh, and the taxis are a shocker, so if you’re not using the trams (free downtown), use Uber.

4. The eating

If you follow Chapel Street away from the river, towards St Kilda, passing through Prahan, you get to Windsor, which would seem to be the new in-place for groovy bars and eateries. We had been recommended Mr Miyagi for Japanese by three different people, but by the time we got there on a busy Friday, the wait was an hour and 45 minutes, as was the case at the equally popular Hanoi Hannah and Hawker Hall, all in this neck of the woods.

In the end, we settled for a bowl of soup and a glass of wine at the perfectly fine The Woods, but next time, I’ll head to Windsor earlier and try those other yummy spots.

Our bonus Italian feast at Da Noi was extra-special for more reasons than one.

5. The bonus

We’ve all heard stories, but having flown Jetstar to Asia and back without a hiccup – for the second time – I was mightily impressed. However, for our last leg home from Melbourne, there was a two-hour delay. But the good news is that we were given almost 12 hours warning via email. I don’t mind a hitch if I know about it, and this one bought us extra time and led to a truly special experience.

My late friend Paul once told of a fantastic lunch he had at a little place in Toorak, where the Italian owners just kept the food coming. While strolling down Toorak Road, I noticed a woman making pasta in a small restaurant window and sure enough, this turned out to be the place Paul loved so much. And now, thanks to that delay, so do we. Da Noi is its name. Open for lunch and dinner, and truly memorable.

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