One could argue that 2021 is the absolute worst time in the history of the hotelling industry to open a new property – and I wish I could say I was being melodramatic. Alas, that’s the world we now live in, but W Melbourne would beg to differ. Doors opened in Q1 of this year with bets hedged on revitalised domestic travel, a hunger for unique accommodation, and confidence in its compelling addition to Melbourne’s CBD.
We were invited as guests of the younger, quirkier and cheekier offspring from the Marriott hotel empire last month to experience the buzz directly from the source at 408 Flinders Lane. Fun fact; W Melbourne intentionally chose the address of the iconic lane – rather than the dominating Collins Street on its opposite side – when shaping a quintessentially Melbournian identity for the property.
Swayed by eccentric street art, post-modern design and effortless cool, the 294-room hotel calls the East Tower of the striking Collins Arch development home. The $1.25 billion project came to fruition at the hands of NYC-based SHoP architects and connects two, 164-metre towers by an impressive sky bridge.
It seems fitting, then, that Melbourne’s most intriguing architectural addition plays host to a feather-ruffling newcomer like the W.
Of the triple-digit guestrooms, 29 are the brand’s most indulgent suites – dubbed “WOW” and “Extreme WOW” – the latter an interpretation of your average hotel’s presidential suite on the 15th floor (with a 40sqm balcony, no less).
Despite the natural limitations of inner-city real estate, amenities at the W Melbourne are aplenty. If the 14th floor’s gold-roofed indoor pool with poolside bar wasn’t lush enough, the DJ booth spinning tunes too cool for school will definitely set the vibe. Adjacent to the ‘WET’ centre is the ‘FIT’ alternative, which both offer the exact detox experiences their namesakes suggest.
BH was treated to a ‘Fabulous’ guest room with a king bed and city view – and don’t be so quick to judge the ‘guest room’ label by its cover. The rooms are surprisingly spacious, host a plush king-sized bed, a private W MixBar and a seductive low-lit decor that can only be described as remarkably similar to QT Melbourne.
In the centre of the Fabulous guest room is a nifty central column that houses both amenity and vanity facilities, and the automatic toilet with an interesting array of buttons and gadgets built into the wall make for novelty fun.
Given the sheer volume of rooms offered by W Melbourne, the price-point for entry-level room types is admirable (circa $370 p/n) and overall, the product is noticeably refreshing and fun.
We’re yet to catch a glimpse of the penthouse, but when the Executive WOW suite is open for business, we’ll be sure to report back.
The Restaurants & Bars
Few CBD hotels have as many dining options as the W Melbourne. It’s a big call – and one we can’t personally vouch for just yet – but “the epitome of Japanese food” will soon be found at the hotel’s flagship known as Warabi. It seats just 30 diners and focuses on local ingredients paired with premium sake, whisky and beer. This signature restaurant offers a private dining room and opens mid-2021.
What you can sample right now is the much talked about Lollo, under the creative culinary direction of renowned local chef Adam D’Sylva. Wash down the mixed heritage menu with the exclusive cocktail list at Curious; the “place to see and be seen”, albeit tucked away in a traditional speakeasy beneath the main lobby.
The final offering is the soon-to-be-opened Culprit, a café-meets-wine-bar best suited for morning coffees to evening spritzes and all the antipasti you can eat in between, come June.
As someone who travelled to Melbourne from Sydney multiple times a month (in the pre-pandemic glory days), I was excited to welcome the W Melbourne as a breath of fresh air from the usual corporate go-to’s such as the Grand Hyatt and QT. They’re both commendable hotels, there’s no doubt about that, but the W not only offers the assorted luxuries you’d expect from a top-tier chain, but specific hotelling experiences from the pool to the speakeasy that are impressive enough in their own right to warrant a second visit. As they say, newer is almost always better, and the part gamble, part fortuitous timing and part intriguing product will ensure the W Melbourne stays the flavour of the month for the foreseeable future.