Grand Slam Glam and Urban Jam: The Ultimate Guide to Melbourne

In Melbourne, bluestone lanes and razor-sharp urban style form a metropolis with more macchiato in its veins than saltwater.

Melbourne. Unsplash/Dmitry Osipenko

Melbourne isn’t your average Aussie beach town. Here, bluestone lanes and razor-sharp urban style form a metropolis with more macchiato in its veins than saltwater. Imagine art-splattered alleys teeming with cafés for the caffeine-addicted and boutiques for the fashion-forward. But Melbourne wasn’t always Australia’s trendsetter. It’s a city built on gold rush hustle and it’s not shy about it. What started as a dusty speck has exploded into a cosmopolitan powerhouse. Stroll its streets and witness a transformation of yesteryear meeting innovation, between then and now, from the swagger of Victorian terraces to the towering ambitions of its skyscrapers. Melbourne thrives on reinvention, cherishing the avant-garde is routine and creativity is currency.

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At this time of the year, Melbourne is in the news for one particular reason: the Australian Open. For the dedicated Grand Slam enthusiasts, a journey Down Under has likely already been marked on their calendars. But for those in the States still weighing the decision for a last-minute dash, be prepared: this journey is far from your average sports pilgrimage. The 2024 Australian Open, taking place from January 14 to the final match on January 28, is a true odyssey. It’s a commitment to a 14-hour aerial marathon from L.A., or a whopping 22-hour voyage from the East Coast—far from the more leisurely trips to Paris for the matches at Roland Garros or a quick hop across the pond to Wimbledon. Landing in Melbourne means entering a thrilling coliseum, a place where the tennis world’s best clash for a colossal $58 million prize. Amid the swelter of competition, sports history will be sculpted in Melbourne one electrifying serve at a time.

But it’s not all about the game. Melbourne stands out as effortlessly cool amid Open fever. Effortlessly navigable and consistently topping the charts for livability, it’s where adventure and convenience collide. Whether you’re chasing the latest fashion, the best bites or a literary escape, you’ll find it delivered with an inimitable Melbourne flair.

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Where to Stay

The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne. Elise Hassey

The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne

650 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

The Ritz-Carlton in Melbourne is a dazzling addition to the city’s skyline. Soaring at 80 stories, it reigns supreme over the city’s vistas. Boasting 257 guest rooms and suites, each lavishly adorned with dark wood, natural stone and golden accents, it epitomizes opulence with a distinct Melbourne verve. The interior design, a work of art by Bar Studio, is both chic and steeped in cultural nuances, featuring local elements like Australian Aboriginal artist Maree Clarke’s bespoke brass door handles. Talk about a grip on style.

Adelphi Hotel. Adelphi Hotel

Adelphi Hotel

187 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Industrial chic meets candy-coated dreams at the unapologetically urban Adelphi. Standing on the legacy of the edgy, Denton Corker Marshall-designed original, Adelphi flips the script with a whimsical, Willy Wonka-inspired twist on its rugged 1938 warehouse bones. 

The Royce. The Royce

The Royce

379 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004, Australia

From its days showcasing luxury rides to now hosting luxury stays, the 94-room Royce flaunts its heritage with pride. This 1927 luxury car showroom-turned-boutique hotel is the latest hotspot in Melbourne, screaming Art Deco glam following a two-year refresh. Marvel at the grand marble staircase, original cornicing and chrome accents—it’s a throwback to a more opulent era.

Park Hyatt Melbourne. Park Hyatt Melbourne

Park Hyatt Melbourne

1 Parliament Square Off, Parliament Pl, Melbourne VIC 3002, Australia

Situated on Collins Street with views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne’s Park Hyatt is a landmark in the making. This low-profile spot is a win for guests, who get to glide up the grand staircases of its sprawling lobby without a crowd. The spacious rooms are havens of calm, blending modern-Zen and Art Deco vibes, complete with Japanese-style paneling and earth-toned comforts, while an expansive edgeless pool, a state-of-the-art fitness studio and a serene day spa reside on the upper floors.

What to Do

National Gallery of Victoria. Education Images/Universal Image

National Gallery of Victoria

180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006, Australia

Step into the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), a treasure trove of art that’s as bold in architecture as it is rich in collections—and best of all, it’s free to enter. This brutalist beauty, designed by Sir Roy Grounds, was once a subject of debate but now stands tall as an icon. Make a beeline to the Great Hall to gawk at the stunning stained-glass ceiling, then stroll out to the sculpture garden for some fresh air. And for those after a mix of art, tunes and twilight, NGV Friday Nights are a must—check their website for these buzzing, ticketed events.

Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria. Unsplash/Thomas Bassett

Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria

Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens are an emerald oasis and floral fantasy. Ranked among the best examples of Victorian-era gardens, attracting over two million visitors yearly, it’s a global botanical journey with a local twist, featuring mini-ecosystems, a fragrant herb garden and an authentic indigenous rainforest, all sprawled across vast landscaped-to-perfection lawns.

Hosier Lane. Unsplash/Shawn Tung

Hosier Lane

With over 40 laneways and arcades in Melbourne, Melbourne’s famous laneways are buzzing with shopping arcades, street art, cafes, bars and boutiques, all with their own individual character and charm. Hosier Lane reigns supreme as the crown jewel of street art, magnetizing anyone and everyone with a camera to its riot of graffiti and art installations. Catch a diverse array of themes, ranging from the deeply political to the boldly countercultural, all presented with a touch of irreverent wit.

St. Kilda Unsplash/Rodolfo Barreto

St. Kilda

St. Kilda, Melbourne’s seaside gem, mirrors the laid-back vibe of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. It’s a picturesque retreat fringed with palm-lined beaches and eye-catching architecture; a favorite spot for fishing enthusiasts, casual strollers and roller-skating fans alike. Wander to the end of the pier for a stunning view of Melbourne’s skyline. Just a stone’s throw away, dive into the warm embrace of the St. Kilda Sea Baths, a Moorish-style retreat with saltwater pools perfect for a refreshing dip. And don’t miss the transformation of the Esplanade every Sunday, as it buzzes to life with the vibrant St. Kilda Esplanade Market.

Where to Eat

Etta. Etta


60 Lygon St, Brunswick East VIC 3057, Australia

At this neighborhood bistro, chef Rosheen Kaul transforms the ordinary into extraordinary over her wood-fired grill, the heart of the kitchen. Kaul churns out flavors that swing from the streets of Melbourne to the corners of the globe; red curried sausage and seared abalone share the spotlight with unsung heroes like simply-grilled cabbage flower. It’s a culinary journey wrapped in a laid-back bar à vins, complete with a killer wine list and an effortlessly cool ambiance.

Flower Drum. Flower Drum

Flower Drum

17 Market Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Flower Drum has been the stage for chef Anthony Lui’s produce-centric Cantonese creations since 1975—and is still extremely popular. Show-stopping dishes range from wallaby tail to tableside Peking duck, each complemented by an excellent wine list curated by Lui’s son, Jason.

Ides. Ides


92 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia

Ides is all about challenging norms and delivering a Melbourne dining experience that’s as unforgettable as it is unorthodox. Under the guidance of ex-Attica sous chef Peter Gunn, this grey-hued, dimly lit space is a playground for culinary boldness. Expect tasting menus brimming with vigor, like steamed egg custard with pork broth and shiso seeds and grilled wagyu boneless short ribs. The drink offerings are an adventure in themselves, from funky raspberry beers to sakes and skin-contact wines. 

Minamishima. Minamishima


4 Lord St, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia

Minamishima is Melbourne’s premier sushi sanctum, where securing a counter seat is as coveted as the cuisine. Chef Koichi Minamishima, a maestro of Japan’s culinary hierarchy, brings his relentless pursuit of perfection to the Richmond district. Here, every bite—from seared wagyu nigiri to Hokkaido king crab—is a teleportation to Tokyo. And for the perfect pour, sommelier Randolph Cheung has your back with expert sake and wine pairings.

Where to Drink

Bar Liberty. Copyright © 2016 James Neilson. All rights reserved

Bar Liberty

234 Johnston St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

Bar Liberty in Fitzroy is like the cool kid of natural wine bars—the old restaurant’s sign, masked by a spray-paint scribble, marks the spot. Think biodynamic, funky and low-intervention wines paired with an evolving snack and sharing plate menu. Savory doughnuts, seafood delights and king prawns in miso sauce—it’s always a flavor fest. 


122 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Embla, in Melbourne’s Central Business District, is a sophisticated wine bar with a Western saloon vibe. The wine list, curated by an Aussie winemaker and a French natural wine guru, spans the globe while chef Dave Verheul’s small plates are a masterclass in flame grilling and fermenting, starring dishes like zucchini fritters and clams with pork sausage and fregola. With its timber and brick charm, this place offers timeless elegance and standout local and natural wines. 

Byrdi. Byrdi


211 La Trobe Street, Tenancy GD075, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Byrdi offers up more alchemy than your average bar. The drinks, served by a team wearing breezy crushed linen, are as original as they are delicious, showcasing techniques like fermenting and smoking. With a focus on seasonality, every stop at Byrdi is a multisensory fever dream, earning it global recognition and a bevy of awards.

Manzé. Manzé


Shop 2/1/5 Errol St, North Melbourne VIC 3051, Australia

Manzé in North Melbourne is a breezy blend of charm and culinary finesse. Its drinks list is concise yet adventurous, featuring natty wines and lots of Mauritian rum in a laid-back dining room with reggae tunes, lush plants and rattan furnishings setting the scene. Beyond the sips, save room for chef Nagesh Seethiah’s Mauritian marvels. The fusion of East African spices and South Asian flavors is so exquisitely executed, you’ll be applauding by dessert time.

Grand Slam Glam and Urban Jam: The Ultimate Guide to Melbourne