Melbourne is often ranked among the most livable cities in the world, and for good reason. In addition to its natural beauty as a port city with water views, it has many lovely parks, gardens, and treelined avenues. It's also an international cultural center, with annual events such as the Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne Arts Festival, Fringe Festival, and Melbourne International Comedy Festival showcasing world-class performances. Don't forget sports, either–Melbourne is sometimes referred to as the Sports Capital of the World, so try to make it to an AFL (Australian Football League) game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and see what locals are so passionate about. Check out more TravelSort reader ideas on things to do in Melbourne.
Melbourne hotels tend more towards mid-range, but there are a few luxury and boutique hotels worth seeking out, which will pamper and rejuvenate you so you can enjoy all Melbourne has to offer:
Quay West Suites
For couples and families who want it all–convenient central location, views, and a spacious modern apartment that includes a private balcony and full kitchen–Quay West Suites is the perfect choice. Its riverfront setting on Melbourne's Southbank is next to the Victorian Arts Centre and National Art Gallery, and just a minute's walk to Federation Square, the Botanic Gardens, St. Kilda Road, and Flinders Street Station. Cosmopolitan Southbank offers many great dining and shopping options within a short walk of Quay West Suites, and if you want to try your luck, Crown Casino is within walking distance as well. Do note that there is some construction at nearby Hamer Hall through July 2012, so you may want to request a suite on the opposite side if you stay now through July 2012. Suites are spacious, beds very comfortable, bathrooms offer separate soaking baths and showers, and tall guests will be glad to have shower heads that for once accommodate them. Enjoy an invigorating swim in the indoor lap pool, then relax in the adjacent jacuzzi.
Park Hyatt Melbourne
On the edge of Melbourne's Central Business District, the Park Hyatt Melbourne's location is an advantage for anyone preferring tranquility and views of St. Patrick's Cathedral and the lush Fitzroy Gardens to traffic and views of office buildings. Enjoy the most spacious standard rooms of any Melbourne luxury hotel–Park King Rooms are 535 square feet–and a spa-like Italian marble bathroom with soaking tub and separate walk-in shower. Get your day off to a great start with the sumptuous breakfast buffet at award-winning radii. And after a busy day of business or sightseeing in Melbourne, relax in the heated indoor pool, sauna, or steam room, or enjoy a facial or massage at the Park Club Health and Day Spa. Want to stay here free? You can apply for the Hyatt Visa and enjoy 2 free nights, or 4 nights if your spouse or travel partner also applies for the card. Also see Best Park Hyatt to Stay 2 Free Nights with the Hyatt Visa for other great Park Hyatts to enjoy your free nights at.
InterContinental Melbourne-The Rialto
In the heart of Melbourne's downtown, right on Collins Street, the InterContinental Melbourne couldn't have a more convenient location. Inside the striking exterior, a fusion of a historic Gothic facade and sleek glass tower, is a modern and stylish design, and even more importantly, friendly and helpful staff. In particular, head concierge James Ridenour is praised by guests as “knowing everything” about Melbourne, so take advantage of his and his teams tips! The indoor pool offers stunning views of the Melbourne skyline, and for some true pampering, relax with a Balinese massage at the East Day Spa. Book with a Visa Signature card such as the Sapphire Preferred and enjoy upgrade on availability, complimentary continental breakfast, complimentary Internet, and a $25 dining credit.
If you're after more of a luxury boutique experience in Melbourne's SoHo, head to The Como, in the heart of trendy South Yarra with its exciting dining, shopping and nightlife options. The hotel's hip, modern design is coupled with whimsical touches, such as a Como rubber duckie in the bath. Standard Studio Suites are large, at 430 square feet, and beds are so plush and comfortable you may not want to leave, but that would be a shame, given all there is to explore in the neighborhood. Nature lovers will be thrilled that the Royal Botanic Gardens are close by, and when you want to laze poolside, venture up to the rooftop heated pool, which also has a retractable roof to morph into an indoor pool in inclement weather. The Como is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, so you may want to wait until this fall, from October on, so you can enjoy the fully polished results.
Getting to Melbourne:
One of the best products is Qantas First Class on its Airbus 380 from Los Angeles to Melbourne; this is extremely difficult to get, however, so make sure you try for it 11 months out and stay up late, calling American every hour or so to book it. First Class roundtrip is 145,000 American AAdvantage Miles; you can earn 100,000 AA miles by applying simultaneously for the Citi AA Visa and AMEX, and another 50,000 AA miles by later applying for the Citi AA Business card. See Best Travel Credit Cards.
If you have lots of Delta miles, V Australia flies nonstop out of Los Angeles to Melbourne, although award space tends to be better on the LA to Brisbane route. Delta imposes fuel surcharges for V Australia award redemptions, so expect to pay $500-600 for a roundtrip award ticket.
You have several options with Star Alliance. Thai Airways flies from Los Angeles to Bangkok and then from Bangkok to Melbourne.
Asiana flies from Seoul to Sydney on a two class 777, and has excellent business class award space on it. You could have a stopover in one direction to break up the journey a bit. For the outbound trip from Los Angeles to Sydney the schedule works out great as there’s only a two-hour connection in Seoul, while on the return an overnight is required.
Business Class Roundtrip for either of the above options is 120,000 United miles.
Then, to get from Sydney to Melbourne, you can either book a cheap revenue flight, or use 9000 British Airways Avios + $24.37 taxes for a roundtrip economy flight. Flight time is just 1 hour 35 minutes.
There are a few other options; see Tips for Booking Award Tickets to Australia and New Zealand.
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