Hello hello! How was your weekend? I hope you had fun and managed to keep warm! I had a great weekend, taking a little one-night city break at the DoubleTree by Hilton. I know, I know, we just got back from Germany, so it was a bit soon for another holiday, even a mini staycation. However, a few months ago we decided to cash in some FlyBuys points for a night at a Hilton, and this weekend was the first one we could do. Interestingly enough, you could use the same amount of points to get a night at the (more expensive) Hilton South Wharf, but we much preferred the idea of staying in the heart of the city.
The DoubleTree is a narrow-ish and fancy-looking building on Flinders Street, near the corner of Elizabeth Street and right opposite Flinders Street Station. If you know the area, you'll know that it's very busy, and the relatively new hotel, all dim lights, fancy bar and slick dark tiles, is a nice calm oasis in the crowded area.
|The signature DoubleTree by Hilton chocolate chip cookie!|
Added bonus - the reception area always smells like cookies! The DoubleTree have a signature chocolate chip cookie, and every guest receives a freshly baked cookie on arrival. When we checked in, the very nice reception staff actually slipped us two cookies each (and I swear I didn't even ask!) These were great - warm and chewy, with lots of walnuts and melty chocolate pieces.
Our room was a King guest room. It was compact but comfortable, and very clean with modern fittings.
The view from our room was, well, less than spectacular, but they do have rooms with better views across the station and the city, (and some rooms with no windows at all!) I liked that we got a lot of natural light into the room.
|Comfy, comfy robes|
The robes provided were super fluffy and comfy, as was the bed. Down pillows come as standard, but there's a pillow menu available if you prefer something firmer or softer. I was a little worried that a room in the centre of town might be noisy, but the room was really quiet and I had an excellent night's sleep.
Overall I really liked the hotel. It was modern and comfortable, and the staff were very friendly and efficient. It is a simple hotel (i.e. no bathtubs, no swimming pool, no day spa, limited room service menu etc.), but it has everything you need, and its location makes it a perfect base for exploring the city. (Shopping! Restaurants! The tennis! Theatre!)
One negative to mention though, is that the reservations process was very difficult. I had to phone to make the booking with my FlyBuys voucher, and literally had to call the centralised Hilton reservations line six times, spending ages on hold, before I managed to get through to someone who knew how to make the booking. (You can't actually walk in and make bookings at the hotel - I tried!) We got there in the end, but it was a lot of effort and if I hadn't needed to use my Hilton voucher, I would have probably given up and chosen another hotel.
Ok, let's move onto more positive things! For dinner, Sandra took me to Harley House (71 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000), where we had excellent Pisco sours...
...and some of the best beef I'd ever eaten! Check out that ridiculous 72-hour beef short rib. It was incredibly tender, falling off the bone with a gentle prod from a fork. It had a great smoky flavour, and a really great, charred crust. Amazing. Full blogpost on the dinner to come!
|Asado con Hueso - 72 hour slow cooked beef short rib - $40|
And the next morning, we took advantage of being in the city and hit up Grain Store (517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000) for brunch. I hadn't visited in a couple of years (see my 2013 post on Grain Store), and it doesn't seem to have waned in popularity at all! They were doing a roaring trade on a Sunday morning.
|Grain store - Magic & Mocha|
I had the portobello mushrooms with poached eggs, hazelnut hollandaise and raclette cheese rösti, which was very tasty and satisfying. (The rösti was more like a dense potato patty than the crisp potato pancake I was expecting, but it was delicious nonetheless). Sandra's chocolate pancakes weren't presented with quite as much finesse as I'd expect from Grain Store, and the accompanying poached pear was a little too firm, but the flavour combination was great. The pancakes were thick and fluffy, with crisp buttery edges, and they came with refreshing pear, jaffa mascarpone and sweet strawberry puree.
|Portobello mushroom & Raclette potato rösti, poached eggs, spinach leaves, hazelnut hollandaise - $18|
House-made "Spirulina" juice - pineapple, pear & mint juice - $8
|Chocolate pancakes, poached honey pear, jaffa mascarpone, strawberry, meringue - $18|
Do you like taking staycations? Any recommendations for great places to stay in the city? Do you like savoury or sweet breakfasts?