The Ultimate Melbourne Girls’ Weekend
There are girls’ weekends and then there are Melbourne Travel Guide Expedia girls’ weekends. That’s the weekend you want to be on. As a Sydneysider, I could not be more pro our Southern Sister. She’s a little cooler and smoother than us and truly just about the best local city you can head to with your girlfriends.
Melbourne is constantly innovating so it’s not possible to curate a definitive list (it would be more like a thesis) but once you’ve booked your fabulous hotel in Melbourne – Crown Towers, Langham, Lyle, Windsor, Westin, Park Hyatt – here are ten awesome things to try.
1. Hot yoga
Get your Gwyneth on at Melbourne’s coolest fit spot – One Hot Yoga and Pilates. The architecturally designed space is all urban minimalist with white walls, white space and white noise. This was the first yoga studio in the world to teach core body temperature yoga and it remains their specialty but the school also offers Pilates Mat and Reformer classes. Try a Slow Hot Flow Yoga class that combines physical asana practice in a 37 degree room. I’ve tried Bikrim Yoga in the past and didn’t really enjoy it but I loved, loved this style. Make sure you’re well hydrated and don’t eat for a couple of hours before the class. Wear light clothes that you can bend in and take a towel because you’re going to sweat like Beyonce in concert.
2. Eat at Supernormal
Who doesn’t want to visit a place called Supernormal? Without question, chef Andrew McConnell’s latest Asian diner is the hippest, hardest-to-get-a-booking-at joint in town. It’s an imaginative blend of Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine that’s been twisted and turned like a Lewis Carroll character. This is marvelous, special food executed with innovation, humour and passion. It’s more than dinner – it’s a destination. We started with homemade white sesame rice cakes drizzled in a ridiculously good sticky sauce, followed by a selection of ceviche-style raw dishes full of lemon, jalapeno and daikon. I will forever dream about the King Fish.
The restaurant was and remains absolutely packed, with a queue out the door and down the street, so don’t even think about not booking. Also, leave room for dessert. More specifically leave room for the peanut butter parfait, salted caramel & soft chocolate. It needs no further explanation.
3. Donuts are the new cupcakes
The All Day Donut Shop in Brunswick is what Magnolia Bakery is to New York. An icon in the making, a place where tourists take pictures, a sweet, sugary pilgrimage. Even if you don’t like donuts, you’re going to like these little pieces of heaven. My picks are the Iced VoVo and the OG Glaze but people talk about the Strawberry Cheesecake in the same way others talk about religion.
4. Beer & boardwalks
I love an urban beach and St Kilda comes as close to Santa Monica as you’ll get in Australia. I like to visit this part of the city on a Sunday afternoon when the pubs are full and the cafes heaving.
Walk past Luna Park, all the way along the boardwalk and down the pier. Don’t forget to look up – the palm trees are spectacular. Sunset (or rise) in this part of the world is special so if the day is hot, stand and watch the sky turn pink and orange at the edge of the ocean.
Loop back down to the main drag (Acland Street) and have a schooner or two. The best pubs are: The Esplanade Hotel (it’s 100 years old), The George Basement and The Prince Hotel.
Complete your St Kilda Sunday with a cake from one of the many cake shops that line the strip before hopping on a tram back into the city.
5. Book something
Melbourne’s theatre, stage shows and exhibitions are world class. Do your research and time your trip around at a great gallery exhibition or stage show. Or both. In the past year I’ve seen Jean Paul Gaultier at the National Gallery of Victoria, Les Miserables and most recently I saw the David Bowie exhibition at the ACMI. On tour from London’s V & A Museum, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe the curation of this retrospective. Also, worth a diary note: Delta Goodrem will be starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats from 18 Dec-Jan 10.
6. Cocktail Crawl
Cocktail bars are like dry cleaners in Melbourne – there’s one on every corner. If you want to make a night of it, here are four current favourites:
The Attic: This bar has been a local haunt for over a decade. You can get any cocktail in the world made to perfection and it will come served in a gorgeous vintage glass. And the music doesn’t make you feel like Nanna. Go early and stay late. The Attic, 304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Habitat Lounge: So New York! This marble and timber bar is slick and chic. I had the best margarita of my life here and another must is the house creation called a Peppered Moth which is in homage to the near extinct coloured moths that live in the Collingwood back alleys. Habitat Lounge, 129 Smith Street, Collingwood
Berlin: There’s nothing quite like a secret bar. Or a drink that you have to work for. Berlin offers both. First you need to find the front door. Here’s a hint – its on the second floor. Then ring the doorbell and hope they open it. Once you’re in, you’ll need to decide which part of the venue you want to visit – East or West Berlin. Not kidding, I said it was hard work. After all that, you can finally order a drink. It’s teeny, it’s cool and it’s a must. Berlin, 2nd floor (ring the bell) 16 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
The Everleigh: This is as good as cocktail bars get. Anywhere in the world. The ice is hand cut, the juice is squeezed to order, the bar tenders know everything about every drink ever made. It’s darkly elegant and highly subscribed so I suggest going early – it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere – or fashionably late. The Everleigh, 1 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
7. Take a skyline selfie
When it comes to night time river strolls, the Yarra does not disappoint. I recommend a bowl of the lamb ragu pasta and a Cosmopolitan at Fatto (100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne) before heading to the concourse for a stroll and a selfie. Take your snap against the twinkling lights of this city’s beautiful skyline. Extra points for props.
8. Get lost
There’s no better place to lose yourself than Melbourne. It’s a wanderer’s paradise. Pick a suburb, any suburb and start on the high street and let the day take you on an adventure. Somewhere like Brunswick, Armadale or Fitzroy are great choices. Go for breakfast, shop, find a brewery for lunch, lie in a park with a book…this is a city with many, many sides and sometimes the best surprises are unplanned.
9. Luxe it up
This is girls weekend so we’re not heading to a cheap nail bar. If you’re going to do the whole spa thing then you may as well go all the way. And by all, I mean luxe. The Aurora Spa Retreat is as glamourous as mud and seaweed can get. Filled with soft light, soft furnishings and softly spoken therapists, you can spend an hour or the rest of your life here. The menu is extensive (though not cheap) and all the treatments from facials to massages superb.
10. Shopping. Duh.
Shopping, girls weekend…I mean, as if you’re not going to hit it. There’s so much good shopping in Melbourne, lots of hidden treasures and lane ways. Talk to Dr Google before you go for the latest and greatest but here are some must locations.
Best Streets: Chapel Street for all the big names in high-street and Australian designers. Down the Commercial Road end there are lots of great vintage and pre-loved stores that are worth the walk. Collins Street for all your luxury labels from Tiffany to Chanel. For original, very Melbourne labels head to Gertrude Street (Fitzroy) and Crossley Street and Flinders Lane in the city are great for quirky and cool finds.
Best Centres: Melbourne Emporium is glorious and if you have time and a car, then head to Chadstone Shopping Centre where every label that ever existed has found a home.
Best Arcades: Wander through The Block and The Royale Arcades even if just for the architecture, window shopping and chocolate shops.
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