It's always a little bit scary booking a hotel for a holiday, even if it is just a trip for a few days. After all, if you want a discount, you often need to prepay the room and it's difficult to get a refund if it isn't a great room or hotel. Luckily, I've done a bit of legwork for you if you ever want to come to Melbourne and stay in the middle of the CBD.
The Mantra on Russell was a lovely place to stay and I have to recommend it for the attentive nature of the staff there. They were so lovely to us. In addition to gorgeous rooms which really help any hotel, this establishment has great staff.
We stayed in a one bedroom premium apartment. The Mantra on Russell has got a really nice range of rooms, starting from studio rooms, then one bedroom apartments, one bedroom premium apartments and two bedroom apartments. We found that when we were booking (end of May, two rooms), there was a really great special. We booked directly through the Mantra site and it paid off. I recommend you take a look at the Mantra's Melbourne Special Offers page.
The hotel has some really great features to help you keep your life on track if you're someone who likes to keep fit. I used the pool and spa facilities. Being heated, the pool would have been fantastic for kids. It got a little bit too warm for athletic swimming, but it suited light water exercises. Anyone with an injury would be appreciative of its warmth. It was nice that the pool was heated because it was a slightly cold winter feel at the end of May. The spa was gorgeous as well and could easily fit many people (at least four people, with two couples spread out). It was lovely and warm. The bubbles felt great.
I saw people using the gym and they looked like they were having a good time. One man was doing some weights exercises, and a few people were doing cardio so it is a functional gym by the looks of things. If you're eating too much food (as you might in Melbourne), perhaps hitting the gym isn't a bad idea.
We ate breakfast at the Mantra, and it was very nice. It was a very generous buffet with all sorts of things and they even had food (without pre-ordering) for one of us who is lactose intolerant and pescetarian. We were pretty impressed. From fresh fruit to adorable yoghurts and smoothies to eggs, sausages, toast - this breakfast did not disappoint. You could ask to have your eggs cooked however you liked. When we went, the default was scrambled and these were delicious. The hash brown was of a perfectly crunchy texture; it wasn't too rich or oily, either. There were so many different food options there, that I've actually forgotten what else was there. I remember having to stop myself from overeating because it all looked so wonderful. I really have to recommend the breakfast, even if you only have it once or twice to try it out. I also quite liked the relaxed atmosphere of the dining room.
Our room itself was an enormous (for a hotel, especially) apartment with a balcony, living room, kitchen, dining area, laundry, bedroom and ensuite with a bath. The kitchen was fully stocked with everything that you would need to cook your own meals in if you wanted to. We had enough cutlery and dishes to invite each other over several times (we were two couples who each had their own apartment). We weren't there for long enough to do a whole load of washing, but the laundry was certainly functional. The balcony overlooked a Melbourne carpark, in which Melbournites of all sorts were frequently practising things from dance moves to yoga.
Overall, I have to say that we really enjoyed our stay in the Mantra on Russell. The staff were so lovely. You know how often many hotels will "forget" to return your security deposit and then charge you extra things? Ours was sorted within 1-2 days, and we had an express checkout. All of the staff were super kind and always had a smile on their face. I think that many hotels are standard, unless you consistently go for the presidential suite; even in that case, it probably becomes standard after some time. However, what really sets anything apart from its competition is consistently fantastic service. The Mantra on Russell definitely has my vote just for that. The rooms were delightful and we were very happy there.
1 bedroom apartment - tv in room with Chandler on the screen :)