Begin your love affair with Melbourne at The Olsen
For my weekend of eating, shopping and arts in Melbourne, I stayed in a deluxe studio at the boutique Olsen Hotel in South Yarra. This hotel celebrates the work of contemporary landscape artist John Olsen and is part of the Art Series Hotel Group which takes inspiration for each hotel from Australian artists.
What strikes you first is Olsen's huge yellow mural, Paella, hanging over the hotel's name as the cab drives up to the entrance and next is the six metre mural, The Yellow Sun and the Yarra that stands out in the foyer. The extremely friendly reception staff handed over the access card to the 8th floor and it was clear that this was going to be a hotel I was going to have to drag myself away from (even with a handy 11am check out).
Opening the door to a queen signature bed that looked so invitingly comfy that I wanted to go to sleep then and there, a bathroom complete with cute toiletries plus hairdryer. Copies of Vogue for my reading pleasure, it's the little things that count including a small kitchenette to make a quick cuppa. A mounted tv is on a dedicated channel to the Olsen Hotel with mellow lounge music whilst you unpack and make yourself at home.
Speaking about little things, an art book is opened on the bed with the remote control placed on the page. There are arty touches of the translucent white glass infused with an Olsen graphic and a cute coat rack in the shape of dripping paint on the back of the door.
The room is not enormous but is comfortable with a well appointed dining table and lounge. The styling is modern and warm with lots of natural light giving you the feel like you're staying at a chic home rather than a hotel room. There's even a reasonably priced mini bar and The Olsen's little bundle of goodies including Red Rock Deli Chips and soft drinks are around the $3 mark.
The Olsen, deluxe studio
The Olsen provides a complete hotel experience with the Norbu Day Spa to pamper yourself with a well-deserved massage, a glass bottomed pool and swirling staircase to the rooftop terrace to soak up the view or even a game of chess. If you're feeling active then there is small but well quipped gym. You don't have to wander far for dining options as Spoonbill Restaurant & Bar is a sliding door away for your foodie needs featuring regional Australian produce.
The location of this hotel is hard to beat as it's located close to the hottest shopping strip in town. Hello Chapel Street! It is an area that is made for walking or rather shopping til you drop as well as people watch and take in the buzz of Melbourne's visual art scene. With South Yarra Station only 3 minutes walk away, trams nearby or if after some wheels you're able to hire the hotel's signature smart car or even the bicycle variety.
The hotel is a magnet for meeting friendly people and it was only after meeting these great people, as I was too focussed in seeing the sights of Melbourne, it registered that they were an Aussie actor and an American soul group.
Only a hop skip away is Two Birds One Stone cafe with its Scandinavian design, terrariums and bare bulb light fittings. I'm rather taken with the beige coloured benches with good use of window frontage. Prize position is one of the three booths tucked away seating for 5-6 people. I recommend that you get there early to get a table and sample their coffee.
With so many places to eat, shop and see, there is not enough time to enjoy the sights and smells of Melbourne. I've harboured a long love affair with Melbourne and as always it's short and sweet. I will be back, not to worry.