MELBOURNE is one of my favourite cities.
I jump at any opportunity to visit and, on arrival, I’m usually quick to throw my bags down and begin my Melbourne ritual of eating, coffee, gallery visits, shopping, rooftop bar hopping and more eating.
This visit was different, and it has every bit to do with a home hotel concept called United Places Botanic Gardens.
I arrive in Melbourne on a grey, drizzly May day and head to this 12-suite boutique hotel located on the leafy Domain Road in the heart of South Yarra facing the Royal Botanic Gardens and above Scott Pickett’s woodfire-focused restaurant, Matilda 159 Domain.
The façade looks more like an upscale apartment block than a luxury hotel, and after buzzing a doorbell, I'm greeted by a pleasant, well-dressed concierge, Kurt.
He welcomes me into a dramatically lit foyer, reminiscent of an inner city Melbourne laneway.
There is no reception desk, buzzing public spaces or another guest in sight.
Instead, I am swiftly checked in before Kurt personally escorts me to my Garden Suite on level one.
There’s a short hallway with textured concrete walls, oak floorboards and a toilet to the right.
Lush velvet drapes – controlled by a button beside the bed - cocoon the bedroom on my left, which features a king-sized bed with 100 per cent organic cotton sheets, custom beside tables, a handmade lamp and the softest cotton blankets.
There’s also a large Smart TV on the facing wall, so you can open the drapes and lay in bed and binge watch Netflix should you wish to.
There is no door separating the bathroom from the bedroom and there’s a vanity on one side and a double rain and hand shower on the other.
The bathroom opens into the open-plan living space, with a kitchen down the left side. There’s a cooktop, fridge, Nespresso machine and mini bar featuring three bottles of the world’s best single malt whiskey, Sullivan’s Cove, and crystal glassware.
There’s a four-seater dining table where a glass carafe of water and bowl of strawberries are waiting for me.
The quilted Redondo sofa by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola is the hero of the living space and I enjoy curling up with a novel and looking out over the treetops as the rain falls.
On a warmer day, I'd have opted to sit out on my private terrace and watch the passing parade on Domain Road however the dreary Melbourne weather provides the perfect opportunity to take full advantage of my understated luxe surroundings.
Considered interiors and striking architecture aside, it’s the personal touches, a credit to creator Darren Rubenstein, that really impress me and truly enhances my guest experience – the amenities by New York perfumery Le Labo in larger pump bottles to avoid single-use waste, the oversized towels and attentive, personalised service provided by the butlers.
I loved that when I went to step into the shower and realised I had forgotten my hair tie, there was a little cup full in the bathroom, and that a glass carafe and tumbler were placed by my bedside when my suite was turned down at night instead of single-use plastic water bottles.
I am passionate about supporting artisans in my own community and adored the Szilvassy ceramic dinner sets and mugs created by artist Shari Lowndes exclusively for United Places.
Later, in my large bedroom wardrobe, I find a yoga mat, Turkish towels and a UP branded canvas tote to take on shopping trips or for a picnic in the park.
In the morning, my complimentary breakfast – smoked salmon with avocado and feta on sourdough and a fruit bowl - prepared by the Matilda team was brought to my room at a requested time along with a fresh-squeezed orange juice and my beloved double shot flat white in a ceramic mug, no less.
Needless to say, I very reluctantly hand the concierge my room card on check out, wishing I could spend second night in this urban oasis.
Rubenstein absolutely nails the luxe home hotel concept and this is understated luxury at its finest.
This is also the first time I’ve ever been in Melbourne and was more than happy to stay inside and enjoy a suite rather than go from one foodie experience or gallery to the next.
The only thing that would have made my experience even more pleasurable would have been a relaxing soak in a deep bathtub however, I'd have had to book the Garden Penthouse for that luxury.
A very good excuse to return…
Jetstar operates multiple flights daily between Sydney and Melbourne