There's a never ending stream of traffic on the Westgate Freeway just below my window. I can see the true expanse of Jeff's shed, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the Crown Casino complex beyond it.
The room itself is classy and spacious. The king size bed is dressed with crisp white linen. Plush carpet pads the floors, and two armchairs sit beside the windows, hung with sheer and natural linen curtains. A practical desk provides a good space to work and a wardrobe stocked with coathangers (removable - a definite plus - I can't stand the coathangers that are fixed), an iron and an ironing board. A drinks fridge and a Nescafe coffee pod machine provide the essentials for a good start to any morning.
Key cards open the door locks with a quick swipe and also grant lift access through the hotel's destination control system. There's a tablet next to the bed which contains all hotel information, a COVID safe replacement for the old fashioned compendium, which enables guests to order room service, set up Netflix and any other streaming service you could wish for - Stan, Binge, or Kayo. Wherever you watch your favourite shows, the Google chrome cast can hook you up.
The bathroom is small but clean, large tiles from floor to ceiling feel solid and luxurious underfoot. There's a low light or bright light option which is great for the evening when you don't want the drama of waking up completely. There are no baths in any of the rooms of the hotel but I enjoy the rain showerhead in the large shower. My one complaint is the tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. In this day and age, with the climate crisis causing chaos across the world, it seems ludicrous that hotels haven't thought of ways to save both plastic and money by switching to refillable product bottles.
In terms of sustainable initiatives there is some good news. The hotel has a 23kW solar PV system installed on the roof, which reduces the property's reliance on grid supplied electricity by up to 15%. Planning for an electric vehicle car charging station is also underway.
The Oakwood Premier caters for more than just the overnight guest. Whilst 132 of the rooms are hotel rooms for people on short stays, the remaining 260 serviced apartments are made up of palatial studios, and roomy one- and two-bedroom suites for mid to long-term guests that range from 35 to 85 square metres in size.
For the second night of my stay I was joined by my daughter. The interconnecting door between the one bedroom apartment, with two single beds, and my standard hotel room was a perfect arrangement that would suit a family of four or more (rollaway beds on request). A fully stocked kitchen with cooking facilities, washer and dryer, dining table, lounge and enough TVs to keep today's screen addicts entertained 24/7 mean this apartment has everything I need and I have no qualms about recommending this accommodation.
The hotel is perfect for a working traveller, someone who wants more than just a room and a bed. There are many comfortable, communal spaces on offer. On level 5 there's the vast games room, complete with arcade games, a full size billiard table, enormous wall TV, decadent lounges indoors and outdoor terraces that wrap around the common spaces offering sunny, green, airy places to meet and enjoy time with colleagues, friends and family.
There's also a residents' lounge, replete with TVs, lounges, city views and outdoor access. Level 6 holds a co-working space and a fully furnished gym (also with a spectacular city view) with a stunning selection of state-of-the-art equipment that looks to be worth the room tariff all by itself.
Breakfast at Fifth, Oakwood's casual all-day dining restaurant, is included in my package and the buffet is back! The first morning was a bit of a shemozzle and a sign of the post-lockdown times that we live in where hospitality staff are few and far between. The spread of cereals, pastries, and breakfast staples of bacon, eggs, baked beans and hash browns was delicious but there were no cups for the coffee station, and no forks to eat with. Sunday morning was a totally different story and we feasted in style, my daughter returning more than once to refill her plate.
If you want fine dining, which you absolutely should, reserve a degustation meal at Strato on the 40th floor and partake in a spectacular gourmet experience, with chef, Gagan Sharma. Caviar, oysters, wagyu beef, wild mushroom risotto and agnolotti are all on the menu.
Another reservation that you MUST make during your visit is a table at Sky Bar. With 360 degree views from the 40th floor, sunset is the best time to be seated so you can watch the city glow and then fade into night as the bar's lights slowly rise. The ambience of this destination bar, and the impeccable service, will have you rebooking for your next visit before you even pay your bill.
On the last morning of my stay, I discovered, finally, how close Oakwood Premier really is to everything that's great about Melbourne, and I understood what makes it such a fabulous place for a new hotel district. Just out the back door and across the road is a walkway under the freeway that leads directly to South Wharf. To the left is DFO and to the right is the entry to the Van Gogh immersive art experience at The Lume. It's so Melbourne. For weekend shoppers from the country or interstate, city staycationers, business travellers, families and digital nomads, the Oakwood Premier has it all.
Tip for travellers:
Room service ends early. The mini mart downstairs (closes at 10pm) has prepped meals so if you have an apartment with a kitchen you can heat at your leisure but there's no scope for a midnight order of a club sandwich after an evening out.
Accessibility: Oakwood Premier has 16 one-bedroom apartments that are designed to be accessible for wheelchairs. The showers in the bathrooms are screenless to allow for flexibility of movement and there are support handles to provide stability if needed.
How to get there:
Catch the 109 Tram from Montague Street, a block away. It's a smooth 10 minute ride to Southern Cross Station. You'll need a Myki.
Car parking is available across the road. Enter from Munro Street, behind the hotel. It's $25 per vehicle and you can redeem your voucher at reception.
The writer was a guest of Oakwood Premier Hotel