It’s no secret that Melbourne’s got style in SPADES! Shovels even! I have spent a couple of years in this glamour-gorgeous city so I can personally vouch for its incredible design credentials. Think hidden bars, laneway delights, artistic hotels and retail gold in the suburbs. Here are just some of my picks.

I’m sure I’ve barely even touched the sides of what’s on offer, which is the perfect excuse to uncover even more as I return time and again, like a displaced daughter.


The Larwill

Photo: Lucas Allen 

The Art Series hotels are blatantly obvious choices when seeking a design-savvy stay. One of the more recent offerings is this fresh find – themed on, and filled with, the colourful artworks of the late David Larwill. It’s a happy place in a great locality, easily accessing Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne Zoo, the CBD and the abundance of wonderful treasures around the north of the city.

See my full review plus more details on The Larwill here.

WHERE: 48 Flemington Rd, Parkville

The Adelphi

adelphi_888 1
Photo: Courtesy of The Adelphi Hotel

The Adelphi is a dessert-themed hotel. Yes, you read right. And it is indeed a sensory delight from the minute you walk through the door. The knockout design is by Hachem, and must be seen to be believed. From licorice-inspired furniture to the famous cantilevered swimming pool, this sleek city stay is a gamechanger, in a cracking location.

See my full review plus more details on The Adelphi here.

WHERE: 187 Flinders Ln, Melbourne

The White Room

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Photos: Lisa Cohen

Stylist Lynda Gardner is one sweet and talented lady. Just check out her Instagram feed for proof. She runs a home stay in funky Fitzroy, a soulful studio that is so stunningly styled it almost hurts the eyes. Keep an eye on The Artful Lodger for a full review, soon I hope!

See more about The White Room here.

WHERE: Fitzroy North

The Prince

The Prince resized
Photo: Courtesy of The Prince Hotel

The Prince is a gorgeous boutique hotel with funky but sophisticated interiors, right near the bay at St Kilda. Swan chairs, fabulous lighting, moody palettes, awesome artwork and scandi styling – it’s all here. A great base for exploring the bay area and St Kilda’s wild undercurrent.

See more about The Prince here.

WHERE: 2 Acland St St Kilda


Coppersmith King Room resized
Photo: Dianna Snape & James Morgan

The Coppersmith hotel is all about understated style, with original 1870 facade and walls, and pared back interiors designed by Hassel Worldwide featuring furniture by Australian designers. Its location, South Melbourne, is one of my favourite spots, with tons of incredible cafes, and the glorious South Melbourne markets to keep you busy, all just a few minutes from the CBD.

See more about Coppersmith here.

WHERE: 435 Clarendon St South Melbourne



Chuckle Park

Chuckle Park Melbourne
Photo: The Artful Lodger

This place literally stopped me in my tracks when I stumbled across it a couple of years ago. It’s small in scale, but don’t let that fool you. If you can grab a seat and linger a while there is plenty of design fodder to keep you mesmerised for hours, all within a tiny dead-end laneway. And the food’s pretty awesome too, especially if you’re into pulled pork rolls.

More about this little lane way find in my review here.

WHERE: 322 Little Collins St Melbourne

Fonda (Flinders Lane)

Fonda Melbourne
Photo: Courtesy of Fonda Mexican

I LOVE the interiors at Fonda. Even though it’s actually part of a chain of Mexican restaurants in Melbourne (and holy cow, this Mexican is the goods), it’s just got so much spunk it feels like a totally unique venue. Or at least that’s how I feel at the Flinder’s Lane venue. The fun and vibrant interior design is by the amazing talent at Techne, and it was shortlisted for Best Restaurant in the Eat Drink Design Awards in 2014.

See more of Fonda’s fabulousity here.

WHERE: 31 Flinders Lane Melbourne

Transformer Fitzroy

Photo: The Artful Lodger

Scoring a High Commendation at the 2015 Eat Drink Design Awards, this place is a showstopper. Occupying a former electrical transformer warehouse, the food is vegetarian and the design, by Breathe Architecture, takes the industrial setting, gives it an urban tweak and then throws in tons of greenery for good measure. Right up my alley!

More info here.

WHERE: 99 Rose St Fitzroy


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Photo: Shannon McGrath

Holy Hecker Guthrie! I have a feeling it won’t be the last of this design firm’s magic that we see in my Melbourne hot list. David’s is a sensational Chinese restaurant (and I don’t say that lightly – Chinese is not my preferred cuisine), in a little laneway off Chapel Street. The décor is predominantly white, over-exposed and simply divine. It’s always busy, and I pity any company who sits here with the likes of me, because my eye will always be wandering around the walls.

See more of David’s here.

WHERE: 4 Cecil Pl Prahran



Cumulus Up

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Photo: Earl Carter

Situated upstairs from the uber-popular restaurant Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up is a great little bar with some serious style qualifications. Think exposed brickwork walls, herringbone hardwood, an assortment of Thonet carver chairs in black and kapow red, and gorgeous handblown coloured glass pendants by Mark Douglass for mood lighting, which is bounced off backlit geometric mirrors on the wall. Beautiful.

More low-down on Cumulus Up here.

WHERE: 45 Flinders Ln Melbourne

Zhou Zhou

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Photo: Shannon McGrath

FACT: Everything that design firm Hecker Guthrie touches, turns to gold, in gob-smacking award-winning fashion. So, to illustrate my point, I give you Zhou Zhou Bar. Here, it’s all about eclectic furnishings, funky artwork, plenty of colour and cane, all with an oriental overtone. And set amidst the vibrancy of South Yarra, there’s no reason not to congratulate yourself after a hard day of shopping in this superb strip.

More on Zhou Zhou here.

WHERE: 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

 Madame Brussels

Madame Brussels Melbourne
Photo: Zeljko Batricevic

This place’s entrance way is hidden just enough for you to wander straight past it several times looking like a total fool as you madly swipe at your phone demanding directions (it can happen more than once). But when you find it, be prepared. It’s garden party meets tennis tournament meets Moulin Rouge. And like all good garden parties, it can get a little wild at times. I don’t know what else to say other than “rooftop” and “rug up in Winter”. Just go, you won’t be disappointed.

Find out more here.

WHERE: Level 3, 57-59 Bourke St, Melbourne



Getting here

There are no trains or trams from Melbourne airport to the city. Your best bet is the SkyBus (or similar service), a taxi, or hire car. The good news is, it’s a lovely wide freeway pretty much until the city limits so just roll with it and you’ll be A-OK.

Getting around

I don’t care what Melburnians tell you, their public transport system is EXCELLENT! You can tram, bus or train just about anywhere you want to go. But you need a MYKI card before you board. Facts on that here.

Cabs are fairly easy to come by, and if you’re driving, even parking in the city is quite reasonable. But be warned, driving in the CBD involves tram dodging and those crazy Hook Turns so brush up on the road rules first.


What’s your favourite Melbourne design hotspot? Share your wisdom, infinite or otherwise, in the comments.


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