Melbourne's CBD is an adventure in itself. When looking for the right accommodation does location count? You bet it does.
Take this example. There's chorus members in musical productions and there's leads. Chorus members work their way up in the hope they will one day score a lead. Like accommodation, there's hotels that stay in the background, and there's ones who take the lead.
I love being a woman. I love how we think, connect, organise, plan, take control and do hundreds of things at once. The reason why I'm making this point is that I have nothing but praise for the women at the forefront, let's say 'the lead' at Adara Collins in Collins Street, Melbourne.
With anything us women do, we always like to start with a good base. Whether it be for our make up, home or work – a base is a good foundation so to speak, to start from.
Having been invited to the Melbourne opening of The Lion King and Dirty Dancing, I scouted to find accommodation where I could base myself that's walking distance to both theatres.
I came across Adara Collins by sheer luck, googling to find accommodation close to the Regent Theatre. I booked a room not knowing its exact location on Collins Street, and to my surprise it was straight across the road from the theatre. Now that's scoring a lead!
Liaising with hotel staff in weeks leading up to my visit, I was looking forward to putting a face to the names of the young ladies who'd already won me over with their professionalism, friendliness, and their 'over and beyond the call of duty' attitude over the telephone.
Collins Street was definitely abuzz as set up for opening night was starting to take shape outside the Regent Theatre during my arrival. I met Vanesa, Stephanie, Kayla and Melissa - and for a young group of women who are the core of this establishment, I foresee a bright future for them in hotel management. They too were embracing the atmosphere outside their workplace located at the perfect vantage point to take in all the red carpet action.
Adara Collins in Clyde House next to Athenaeum Theatre. Photo courtesy Jeremy Christopher Bray Really Melbourne
I admit I revel in the architecture of Melbourne's old historic buildings - especially the beautiful classic theatres. I find myself getting lost in the city, walking for hours admiring them all, while also curious about their history.
Adara Collins is housed in Clyde House, built in 1914, and to this day not many buildings are left from this era. Flinders Street Station and the Queen Victoria Hospital are other examples. This building is one of only a few remaining built in the high mannerism style during the Edwardian period in Collins Street Melbourne. Architect Nahum Barnet (1855–1931) had many historic buildings built in Melbourne under his supervision.
Queen Victoria Hospital Melbourne
Imagine how many have walked these corridors through history
What I was particularly drawn to while making my way to the studio apartment was the way the building has still retained its old original charm. Solid brick structure and narrow corridors are some of the stand-out features reminding me as to why beautiful historic buildings such as these become heritage listed. Generations of people have walked these corridors, and many future generations will do the same.
Apartments feature a dining and sitting area, TV, kitchen, fridge and microwave
The studio apartment is delightfully quaint to say the least. Quite spacious with a lounge and dining table, full kitchen, office area, and a comfortable queen size bed. The windows open allowing fresh air in, as well as the option of having the blind open or closed if you love sunshine and light as much as I do.
The studio apartment is quite spacious and bathroom equipped with everything you need
Features include cable TV, iron, safe and where most hotels charge for WiFi, Adara offer this free to their guests. Even car parking is affordable - $17 isn't too bad considering the price I've been charged at other hotels.
The bathroom is modern, with not only a Vidal Sasson hair dryer supplied, but also a hair straightener (two less items to pack!). Even supplying bathrobes which from my experience, is usually only offered to guests staying at five star hotels.
The complimentary wine and nuts from the mini bar went down well ahead of the opening
Mesmerising, moving and visually stunning, The Lion King did not disappoint. Melbourne's A List were out in full force lapping up every moment from the red carpet arrivals, to embracing one of the best musicals of all time unfold not only in the theatre capital of Australia, but at one of the most iconic theatres in Melbourne.
With a talented cast delivering a stellar performance, this musical appeals to all generations. Not only did I cry during the movie, I was moved to tears on the opening night performance as well. Having not seen the production before, I sure was excited that I was invited along with other theatre lovers who judging by the standing ovation, lapped up one of the most magical musicals written for the stage.
As the champagne flowed, the highlight of the night was the cast serenading guests while walking down the sweeping staircase to well deserved thunderous applause and cheers. The cast come from all over the world - New Zealand, The Philippines, South Africa, Jamaica, Thailand and Australia.
Another highlight was seeing one of Australia's most talented couples Tim Campbell and Anthony Callea at the after party. I know Victoria has claimed them as theirs, however Adelaide has a soft spot for these two following regular appearances around South Australian corporate circles.
Staying at the Adara Collins meant I could have a few drinks and not worry about driving home, let alone try to catch public transport or taxi after midnight. A short walk across the road, and I was back at my apartment.
The one thing I must mention is even though the hotel faces the street, I couldn't hear the traffic like I usually do when staying at newer upmarket hotels. It could be that the solid brick building filters noise, which would explain my comfortable night's sleep. I'm sure a lot of lions were asleep following opening night celebrations!
Visiting Melbourne makes me want to get out and experience all it has to offer. Even a simple stroll around the city energises me. I can get lost for hours discovering hidden lane-ways and marvel at the architecture of buildings both old and new.
Athenaeum Theatre built in 1839
The hotel is located next to the heritage listed Athenaeum Theatre, built in 1839 and where the first movie in Australia was screened in 1896. Since 2003 it has been the home of Melbourne Opera.
Degrave's Street just off Flinders Lane is one of Melbourne's vibrant dining districts, and a short stroll from the hotel. I came across RMB Cafe Bar who serve all day breakfast, and was so impressed with the breakfast menu, friendliness and excellent customer service, I went back over the next few days. I ordered the RMB Big Breaky consisting of eggs, bacon, mushroom, chorizo, tomato, onion, spinach, beans and hash brown with wholegrain toast and coffee. Calorie overload but so delicious!
Where table service at cafes in Adelaide is somewhat non existent, Melbourne cafes offer this along with complimentary water. I enjoy the atmosphere dining on my own in this city, there's so much to take in. I'm never alone.
While feeling guilty munching on my hash brown, next to me British tourists were working out the day's itinerary, and on my other side a couple deep in conversation about films, the arts and a TV series. The sound of classical music echoed down the laneway from a busker entertaining masses spilling out of the cafes and restaurants. I spotted a young budding photographer in her own world looking for the perfect angle to photograph the landmark buildings, and a palm reader doing the rounds trying to convince myself and those around me, that our future could be revealed for a small fee.
Flowers outside Melbourne's Town Hall, and street characters capturing people's attention
It's impossible to not notice Melbourne's cosmopolitan lifestyle while taking in the CBD surroundings. State of the art advertising promoting shows and events in the city can be seen on billboards, trams, banners, taxis, bus shelters the list goes on.
The continuous rattling emanating off city trams carrying locals and tourists, is a clear indication that things run at a fast pace, with the sound of traffic and car horns blending together like a harmonious symphony. Every street with its own character is enhanced by the striking monumental old buildings and vibrant colour whether it be from street characters, buskers, flowers, trees, even people from all walks of life.
I mistook a street character for a fixed statue until crowds quickly gathered snapping photos while trying to distract him. It's incredible how roving characters add so much atmosphere, so donating a handful of coins is always appreciated.
Roving characters capture attention from passers by
Further up the mall, more street characters had stopped shoppers in their tracks with their captivating performance art. All this free entertainment and only a stroll from the Adara Collins and you're in the heart of all the action.
Deciding to take a shortcut through Bourke Street Mall to get back to the hotel, I struck gold as I came across an arcade of indulgence! The flashing neon lights quickly grabbed my attention reflecting in my eyes like fireworks. Rows of shops offering a range of pampering services - pedicures, massages, beauty, hairdressing, nails and even a juice bar. As I was heading to the Dirty Dancing opening the same evening, I could get my hair done without having to later. The price? $25 what a bargain! I bought a healthy juice to perk up, and no appointment needed here.
Nails, beauty services and healthy food under one roof
A few minutes walk back to the Adara Collins I relaxed knowing I wasn't going to have a bad hair day, but instead looking forward to the walk from the hotel to The Princess Theatre which was only a few blocks away.
Dirty Dancing Opening night. Photo: Jimlee courtesy of AKA
A sea of pink welcomed guests to the star studded opening night production with bright lights positioned as if a movie was being shot down a New York street. The traditional red carpet replaced with pink carpet, ropes and bollards placed on the carpet walk, and flashes from paparazzi cameras going off like bolts of lightning whenever a celebrity or A-lister struck their best pose against the media wall. Onlookers with their cameras were also getting in among all the action hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity or Melbourne socialite.
On arrival I was approached by a publicist who ushered me to the media wall where I was bemused with photographers addressing me as Tania! While not the first time I've been mistaken for the delightful Tania Zaetta, it's always a pleasure to catch up and take a snap.
Cast members Kurt Phelan and Kirby Burgess. Photo: Matt Bell. Check out more action pics and the famous 'lift' we all love and remember from the movie athttps://standinginnovation.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/ive-had-the-time-of-my-life/
The 1987 Dirty Dancing movie came to life from the screen to stage without disappointment. The story is beautifully told with an incredible cast and creative state of the art sets. Nothing has been spared with everybody up on their feet dancing and cheering during the final number, and the cast receiving a well deserved standing ovation.
Louis Vuitton pays over a million dollars rent per year for its premium spot
The hotel is nestled in the heart of Melbourne's luxury boutiques, also known as the 'Paris End' of the city. Eager to rise early this is where my French love affair began - with a baguette and coffee from the downstairs cafe as I started to browse the local designer shops. This is why I just adore the hotel's location!
I know it sounds too good to be true, but tree lined Collins Street is home to labels such as Dior, Paspaley, Armani, Bvlgari, Paul Smith, Franck Muller, Georj Jensen, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, MaxMara, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren the list goes on. Many of these fashion houses reside in quality heritage-listed buildings with well maintained frontages which is also part of the attraction. Word is that Prada pay around a million dollars rent per year for the privileged location, and Louis Vuitton more for their premium corner spot.
Luxury boutiques along Collins Street complimented by historic buildings
Another reason the location of Adara Collins is outstanding, is that only a few minutes up the road you'll find City Square. A gorgeous area with Melbourne Town Hall and St Peter's Cathedral as breathtaking backdrops, it's was no wonder I took many coffee breaks here. Relaxing with my laptop and as mentioned earlier, I never felt alone with so much going on around me. People flock here to take in the ambience, whether it be hanging at the local coffee shops, or just taking time out doing their own thing.
Although no playground in sight, children were having fun chasing the local seagulls, and two little Elsas in their Frozen costumes were enjoying a babycino at the local Starbucks. Even Melbourne Town Hall was busy as ushers and security were directing people dressed to the nines, to what looked like an important function about to start. Is there anywhere in this city where nothing is actually happening? I don't think so.
Melbourne Town Hall with a beautiful bed of flowers out the front
Why buy wine at a liquor outlet when the square has a bar offering free tastings of local Victorian wine. Told you it's all about location!
I'm passionate about sharing memorable travel experiences with readers, and hope this latest one has inspired you enough to stay at the Adara Collins where not only do you feel extremely welcome, but it's also a theatre, shopping lovers and photographer's dream location.