Melbourne is a city with many talents - some hidden and some in plain view. If you are visiting for a girls' weekend you will be spoilt for choice, but here is my guide to some of the ultimate things to do on a girls' weekend.
The obligatory selfie outside the Hopetoun Tearooms
Somewhere to Sleep There are literally hundreds of hotels in the Melbourne CBD but if you are staying with a girlfriend or two, nothing can beat the economy, space and privacy of a short stay apartment. Get on a site like Stayz and find a two or three bed apartment in the heart of the city. Most apartments will have a lounge or balcony for early morning coffee or late night chats, and a kitchen for you to whip up a quick meal (or get takeaway for a big night in).
Find a self contained apartment in the heart of the city
Majorca Magic is a two bed apartment in the historic Majorca Building on Degraves Street. It sleeps four, but would be perfect for two, with a relaxing mix of retro 20s and modern comfort. In the heart of the city, it is mere metres away from some of Melbourne's best bars and restaurants and its stunning fish scale double shower has to be seen to be believed.
Prices start from $250 per night. Visit website for more information.
In the beating heart of Degraves is this funky little tapas bar. You sit at the tiny bar or on old recycled movie theatre seats, and if you cast a sneaky look between them, you will find some clever person is using every available inch of space for storage (wine!).
The staff are friendly and the food is delicious. Come early for beautiful breakfasts such as green eggs and smoked salmon or stay later for a range of authentic tapas plates and a jug of sangria. The special 'three dishes for $32' starts at 3pm, making this a perfect first course for a progressive dinner.
Address: 23-25 Degraves St, Melbourne Open: daily from early to late
After you (almost) fill up on Tapas and sangria it is time to head back out and stretch your legs. Don't worry if you are craving something sweet because the next stop is across the laneway, upstairs at Lustre Dessert and Cocktail Bar.
With black curtains, gilt mirrors and fabulous chandeliers made from wine glasses, this is the perfect way to end your Night. If you can't make decisions, order a dessert degustation with five bite size morsels ($18) or if you want something more substantial, then you can order full size desserts such as raspberry and chocolate bombe ($9),
The cocktail list is droolworthy and the Chocolate Gold ($20) works perfectly with the dessert platter - not too sweet or creamy, but still rich and chocolatey. If you need something less alcoholic, the friendly staff will whip you up a mocktail based on your favourite drink (try the lychee, mint and pineapple concoction).
Address: Level 1, 252 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Open: daily except Mondays, from 2pm/4pm til late Visit website for more information.
A Pimms Royale to start the day at Cafe Brown Sugar
Café Brown Sugar
One of many tiny cafes crammed into a laneway off the Block Arcade, Café Brown Sugar hits the spot for its interesting breakfast menu and its morning cocktails. What better way to start the day than with a champagne cocktail, Espresso Martini or Bloody Mary and a plate of corn fritters. Other brunch options include vanilla pancakes or corn bread with bacon and Italian beans. Breakfast is served all day.
Address: 25 Block Place, Melbourne
With its reputation for less than ideal weather, Melbourne has perfected the art of the hot chocolate. Top hot chocolates can be found at Alice Nivens, Koko Black, Ganache and Hardware Societe but if you can't find a seat, you will always be able to get your chocolate hit at Max Brenner or San Churro. Check out some more crazy Melbourne hot chocolates here.
Hopetoun Tearooms, with the most recognisable wallpaper in Melbourne
No girls' weekend would be complete without traditional high tea, and Melbourne has a number of top eateries offering tiny delicacies on splendid trays. The Hopetoun Tearooms in the Block Arcade, Madame Brussels and the Windsor Hotel always feature in most Top 10 lists, but there are many more across the city.
We didn't actually buy anything here, but you could if you wanted
Shopping will form an essential part of any girls' weekend, and in Melbourne you have your choice of both quality and quantity. Peruse the large department stores along the Bourke Street Mall, window shop at high end boutiques on Collins Street, find eccentric wares and vintage gems on Gertrude Street, or head to the Queen Victoria Markets to find cheap and cheerful.
The spice merchant is like a candy shop for grown ups
If clothing isn't your thing, then consider the heady aroma of Gewurzhaus located in The Block Arcade, where you can find everything from loose leaf teas to chilli hot chocolate powder, spices for soups, curries and roasts and more in this beautiful shop across the arcade from the famous Hopetoun Tearooms. Spices are bought by the gram and packaged into beautiful paper packets with ingredients and recipes already printed on them.
Address: Shop 26, The Block Arcade, 282 Collins Street
Open: daily from 9.30am/10.30am to 5pm/7pm Visit the website for more information.
Shopping doesn't have to always be high-end expensive clothing and shoes. All girls love cheap and cheerful (especially if you need to buy presents for the people back at home) and not much comes cheaper or more cheerful than Daiso.
The Japanese equivalent of the $2 shop, most items cost around $2.80 (we'll blame the exchange rate) and you can fill your basket with an unbelievable range of things from beauty items, kitchen goodies, toys, stationery, and more for only a few dollars each. If you love a bargain, then make sure Daiso features on your weekend itinerary.
Address: 246 Bourke St, Melbourne
Open: daily from 9am (11am on Sunday) Visit website for more information.
On your girls weekend it is inevitable you will need to top up your energy levels at some point. Sugar Station is a rush of colour and calories, perfect for the smallest nibble or the biggest of binges. Buy hundreds of varieties of lollies and chocolates by the gram or indulge in curious sweets such as make-your-own jelly sushi kits or Darth Vader peppermints. Perfect gifts to appease family members you left at home, and open until very late which is convenient to visit on the way home from a night out.
Address: stores across the CBD
Open: quite early to very late, check individual stores for details Visit website for more information.