Lionel's Melbourne is rich with 19th century architecture meticulously maintained in hotels like the Victoria Hotel and Hotel Windsor. Another grand dame completed in 1891 when Melbourne was the richest city in the world is the Rialto building.
Designed in venetian-style by renowned architect William Pitt, who was also crafted the Princess Theatre, Old Stock Exchange and Old Safe Deposit Building, the Rialto is cited as one of the finest examples of late 19th century picturesque Gothic office buildings in Melbourne by the Australian National Trust.
It began life as the Rialto and Winfield buildings housing offices that service the wool and wheat stores. The two building were separated by a cobbled bluestone laneway traversed by horses and carts transporting wool and wheat to Melbourne's wharves. The Australian National Trust lists the Winfield building as an example of the brick Romanesque style from the close of the 19th century gold boom.
Today, the Rialto is home to one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, The InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. A hotel brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), it is world's first international hotel brand with 60 years of hospitality experience through 166 hotels in over 60 countries. The InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto continues to offer the consistent global standards of service and facilities their guests have come to expect of the brand. More importantly it focuses on delivering a distinctive and authentic experience of Melbourne through its heritage property and celebration of the local culture that has won recognition in Conde Nast Traveller's Hot List and Australasia's Leading Business Hotel in the World Travel Awards.
Every time I stroll the hallways of this architectural marvel, I cannot help but be amazed by the meticulous effort IHG applied to capture the reflections of the hotel's past life. The original exteriors and interiors have been beautifully maintained. What was the bustling bluestone cobbled laneway between the Rialto and Winfield buildings is still retained in its original form as a lobby and restaurant. IHG has managed to retain the architectural soul of this iconic building while transforming it into a modern and luxurious hotel with 253 stylish rooms including one in a 19th-century turret, award-winning restaurants, bar, 24-hour fitness centre, glass encased indoor pool and spa bath and an impeccable concierge.
Indoor pool / Image courtesy of InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto
Another unique characteristic is the hotel's rooftop garden. In addition to being an oasis from the busy Collin Street, it is home to chefs' herb garden and bee hives. A rarity in the city, the rooftop beehives are operated by some 30,000 Italian honeybees which produce jars of golden syrup that make it to the VIP guest rooms, the breakfast buffet and for use in certain dishes. With its own homemade honey and an AUD60 million makeover, the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto is grander than ever and a truly unique hotel in the world.
In addition to offering a rich slice of heritage and stylish travel, the InterContinental's location in the heart of Melbourne's CBD is another attraction for business and leisure travellers. It offers easy access to all the sights and sounds of the city with shopping along Bourke Street, attractions in Southbank and good food in establishments like Hopetoun Tea rooms and La Vita Buona all within 10 minutes' walk radius of the hotel.
Deluxe room / Image courtesy of InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto
InterContinental believes in providing a personal space to relax and recharge after a busy day instead of a guest room, and ensure the little touches of style and comfort through its daily turndown service, luxurious bathrooms with walk-in rain shower and Elemis bathroom amenities in addition to other basic facilities you would expect from a 5-star hotel.
Club King room / Image courtesy of InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto
The Alluvial restaurant led by Head Chef Nick Reade features the use of Victoria's premium produce in its array of modern Australian with Asian and European flavoured dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is popular for its 2 course express lunch menu which changes weekly and is guaranteed to be served in 45 minutes. Fine wines from Victoria and Australia as well as a range of French Champagne are the main attractions of the Bluestone Wine Lounge. Four of the country's most respected and greatest reds are also available by the glass.
Located on the lobby level, Market Lane is the venue for the InterContinental afternoon tea, which features the honey from the hotel's rooftop hives. It offers a modern take on the traditional afternoon tea from 2pm to 5pm every Monday to Saturday. It also serves as an all-day dining venue with simple local dishes and international classics. In the evening, it becomes the spot for sampling one of Melbourne's most extensive whiskey lists and enjoying tapas with more than a hundred flavours of martini and cocktails using Australian ingredients.
The Merchant marries the cuisine of Venice with the Venetian architecture of the Rialto seamlessly, creating a relaxed space for enjoying food and wine designed by leading Australian chef, presenter and food and media personality Guy Grossi.
Its city location and characteristic interiors makes the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto popular for meetings and events. 11 modern styled rooms with the latest technology cater for small meetings of 6 people to conferences of up to 370. The neo-gothic façade and heritage interiors provide a romantic backdrop for wedding celebrations.