Review: Melbourne's Crown Metropol
Enjoying the style and the atmosphere, high above Melbourne's Friday traffic.
THE SETTING It's a slow journey in Friday afternoon's peak-hour traffic. Bumper to bumper, cars and trucks are inching across Melbourne's Bolte and West Gate bridges as arterial roads feed the clogged freeway.
Even the Yarra River is busy, with rowers and water taxis heading back to base before sunset.
THE SPACE On the pool deck on the 27th floor of the Crown Metropol, nobody is bothered. We are in our ivory tower - or, more correctly, our glass tower - where guests in soft charcoal-coloured bathrobes stretch across double loungers reading and dozing by the indoor pool and sun deck.
Giant stretched-linen light fittings hang from the double-height ceiling and there is an air of decadence. It is not your average evening.
THE KIT Our luxe twin-room suite on the 19th floor is schmick; two queen beds with white leather bedheads and a separate toilet and shower behind ribbed-glass doors.
COMFORT FACTOR But the offspring (there are many) are here, too. Welcome at the hotel, they're diving in the 25-metre pool and splashing in the spa, cranked up to 38 degrees.
On the same level, beyond the glass doors, the light-filled and large gym and Isika day spa looks to the Dandenongs and Port Phillip Bay.
The sleek Crown Metropol is showing few signs of ageing since it opened in 2010 and, judging by the long, but fast-moving queue at check-in, it is still attractive to the young and the fashionable.
A five-minute wait for our room to be readied passes in no time as our gang of two adults and two children admire the beautiful chestnut sculptures by Korean artist Lee Jae Hyo and swivel around and around in the leather bucket seats (nostalgia for some, novelty for others).
FOOD Fine dining is on our doorstep. Within the surrounding Crown Entertainment Complex, it is a choice of Bistro Guillaume, Nobu and new openings Rosetta - Neil Perry's Italian restaurant - and Merrywell.
If I were in the hotel's restaurant proper, led by executive chef John Lawson and pastry chef Dalmaine Blignaut, I would be plumping for the roasted scallops on cauliflower puree and some salted caramels from the Mrs Hive dessert bar.
But we are staying in, ordering off the Mr Hive room service menu. Our complicated dietary needs prove a breeze for David on the end of line. When the words "severe peanut allergy" are uttered, he promises to talk to the chef and call straight back, which he does, offering suggestions. Twenty minutes later it is a family dinner of fish and chips, club sandwiches and risotto against a backdrop of city lights. Enchanting.
Breakfast the next day at the Mr Hive eatery is similarly satisfying, with spinach, baked eggs, bircher muesli, raspberry pancakes and strong lattes.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR With a checkout time of 11am, we consider our options. It's a short distance to South Wharf to the Polly Woodside, the ship built in Belfast in 1885, or shopping at the DFO fashion outlet.
We opt to stay, for one last soak with that glorious outlook.
THE VERDICT A still-shining hotel with great leisure facilities.
GETTING THERE Crown Metropol is on 8 Whiteman St, Southbank, Melbourne, 0061 3 9292 6211, see crownmetropol. com.au.
ESSENTIALS Luxe room priced from A$305 (NZ$325) a night; loft A$650; the apartment A$3500. Perfect for people who want an indulgent escape.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS Yes.
WHILE YOU ARE THERE The Metropol is next to Crown Entertainment Complex and high-end shopping on Southbank.
Sunday Star Times