48 hours in Melbourne

Regular readers will know how much I love Melbourne – it is without a doubt my favourite Australian city. I love it so much that I’ve already set a couple of novels here – with more to come.

Regular readers will also know that weekends in Melbourne are a tradition for my daughter and me. We’ve been doing girls weekends down here since…well, for a lot of years. I’m just grateful that at nearly 21 she still wants to spend the weekend with me. I’m refusing to listen to the cynics who say that it’s because I’m paying…

Anyways, here how we spent our 48 hours. I warn you, there is plenty of food. There was, however a lot of walking and a little light shopping in between – but I didn’t photograph that…

Where we stayed…

The Swanston Hotel Grand Mercure…

I’m an Accor member so save my 2 nights for the cost of 1 offers for these weekends with my daughter. This hotel is in a great location – smack in the middle of everything. If you’re the world’s worst sleeper like I am (and can hear a frog fart in a car on the highway from miles away) ask for a room away from Swanston Street. The view won’t be as good but you won’t be disturbed by the buskers and the rooftop bars.

They’re in the process of turning the hotel (transforming seems to be the word that’s used) into a Pullman and we were lucky enough to get one of the new rooms. Supremely comfortable and more than a tad stylish.


Of course. It’s one of the things we miss most about living in a city – decent dumplings. It’s, therefore, one of the first things we go for when we are back in a city. We ate dumplings at New Shanghai in the Emporium for a late lunch on Friday…

and more dumplings at our favourite purveyor of these little morsels of yum at Hutong in Market Lane on Sunday before heading for the airport.


The second craving we always satisfy when in Melbourne is pasta – and we go for that at Guy Grossi’s Cellar Bar at the top of Bourke Street. Great pasta, Italian waiters, Aperol spritz…what’s not to like?

Greek style…

Dinner on Saturday night was with friends at Gazi – at the Flinders St end of Exhibition Street. We’ve eaten here before and have loved it, but this time around? I’m screwing my nose up because it was all a tad meh. While the taramasalata, saganaki and grilled chicken were as good as ever, the tuna was under-cooked and over-cooked, the chips were floppy and the Nutella doughnuts boring. And yes, I know how that makes me sound. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt by saying that it was because it was stinking hot outside and noisy inside and we had a late booking. I do, however, still love the upturned flowerpots on the ceiling.

Surprising gardens…

This sustainability garden is in containers around the town hall and is fabulous. It had herbs, tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, aubergines, beans and so much more. In the middle of the city.

Hidden Bars…

Okay, Melbourne’s laneways are no secret – nor is it a secret that they have some great bars in those laneways. Some of these bars, however, are a secret…or at least well enough hidden so that we can pretend that they’re supposed to be a secret – which is sort of the same thing.

First up was Arlechin. This bar is part of the Grossi Florentini stable and is located in what used to be their wine cellar in the dingey lane behind the restaurant.

We walked past the black door a few times before we saw someone coming out. It was only then that we noticed the tiny logo on the door. Once inside it was obvious that this was a secret that was already known to plenty of other people. The cocktails are inventive, the bar menu is what you’d expect from the house of Grossi, and when we came out there was another group lurking in the alley looking confused. ‘Is there a bar in here?’

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my cocktail is a pretty cool take on an Aperol spritz – but not as you know it.

Saturday night’s hidden bar was another we walked past a few times before realising that the door that looked as though it was a kitchen back door was actually a front door to Eau de Vie. In Malthouse Lane (off Flinders Land or Exhibition Street), this place is a real “speakeasy” – straight out of 1920s prohibition America. We were led to a darkened booth and handed a menu of cocktails that defied description.

Overwhelmed with the choice I opted for a Smokey Rob Roy – a mix of Talisker and Highland whisky, rum, vermouth and orange bitters, it was served under a cloud of wood smoke and smelt like my jacket does after a weekend around the fire at Eucumbene.

The best part? The whisky den hidden behind a fake bookcase. Used mostly for functions, it’s also a storage facility for members of the club with whisky they need to keep under lock and key and stored at the right temperature conditions. My whisky never lasts that long!

The State Library of Victoria

If you’ve never been inside this beautiful building and the even more beautiful reading room on level 3, next time you’re in Melbourne you absolutely must.

High Tea at Sofie’s Lounge, Sofitel

Well worth skipping both breakfast and lunch for, we indulged ourselves with this on Saturday afternoon. A mix of both sweet and savoury – and with champagne on the side – it truly was an indulgence – although to be honest, I would have been just as happy with the scones and cucumber or egg sandwiches.

Street Art

A trip to Melbourne with me wouldn’t be the same without some street art…so here you go.

Okay…and some more…

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle, and, of course, me.

Inlinkz Link Party

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

29 thoughts

    1. Believe it or not, Lydia, it’s in…wait for it…AC/DC Lane. There’s also tributes to Malcolm Young in there. Hey St Peter.

  1. You had me at Dumplings. Looks like a great destination for your girls’ weekends. Melbourne is on my list to explore when I visit Australia. #teamlovinlife

  2. Isn’t it strange how one city appeals to someone and not to another? I really found Melbourne a bit blahhhh myself – maybe because I’m not a foodie or a shopper??? I loved Sydney, have really enjoyed Brisbane and want to get to Hobart one day, but Melbourne didn’t really live up to my expectations – I’m glad it has your heart though.

    1. Oh Melbourne has my heart. I adore its soul. But yes, while I’m not a shopper, I am, indeed, a foodie – and Melbourne is def a foodie city. As an aside, so so so so good to finally meet you.

  3. What a super fun and super delicious weekend. How good is Hutong?! I love going there when I’m in Melbourne and love the hidden bar scene there too. High tea looks fab – I’m the same, I much prefer the basics like the scones and the sangas, I’m not a fan of those fancy pastries.

  4. I adore Melbourne too and was there just before you but no chance for me to explore this latest trip. You know ALL the places. I love the sound of that hidden bar and all those dumplings (yum yum!!). Your Melbourne posts are a good resource to keep in mind for my next Melbourne trip. So many places for me yet to see and experience! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  5. I followed along from home and enjoyed your trip… so thanks for that! 😉

    Since my Italian holiday I’m more interested in dining out, exploring and travel than I was before I ventured o/s again.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that…the exploring part, that is. We didn’t get a chance to talk about Italy yesterday…and we need to!

  6. Lovely little post Jo 😉 Seriously, I loved reconnecting with Melboure through your post. Such a great City, I loved living there and the food culture is incredible. It must be getting close to a returm trip.

    1. It seriously is my fave city. I feel at home there and can never wait for the next visit…which, incidentally, will be in July…just saying.

  7. I adore Melbourne! Love the food, the dumplings- the coffee! And so many great bars! Looks like you had a smashing weekend 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing your views of Melbourne Jo. I know who to turn to for advice on our next visit! We’ve only done a quick day or weekend, so don’t know much about it at all – and it hasn’t as yet weaved it’s magic on me. I think you could probably change that though! #lovinlife #MLSTL

  9. Jo, everytime I read your Melbourne posts I swear to myself I need to book a trip stat. It’s clearly not happened yet but at least I will have your posts as a reference when I finally get back there.

    SSG xxx

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