How to create your very own weekend ‘road trip’ — complete with a cellar door wine tasting, off-grid nature hike, and luxe hotel stay — without even leaving the city.
Ongoing travel restrictions and Covid lockdowns can throw even the most last minute plans into disarray. Why not consider a staycation in Melbourne instead? There’s no rush to the airport, no anxiety-inducing flight cancellations, and no threat of a ring of steel to dampen the mood…
Here’s my guide to the ultimate Melbourne staycation — with a cellar door visit, off-grid hike, romantic restaurant, and luxe hotel stay all rolled into one weekend… without the need for anything more than a Myki.
Check in, then (mentally) check out
My top pick for a weekend staycation in Melbourne is the brand new Hilton Melbourne on Little Queen Street. The recent architectural overhaul has seen the old, heritage law offices reborn into a boutique-feeling hotel combining the best of the original building and a new, sleek refit.
The rooms are spacious and thoughtfully designed, down to their airy, bright interior and well-appointed bathrooms, punctuated with clever nods to Melbourne’s heritage in subtle and modern design moments.
After the year we’ve had in Melbourne, I’d recommend grabbing the cosy robe provided, and ordering room service while you relax on your comfy 300-thread count sheets. In Covid times, it’s nice to see the little touches — like a remote wrapped in a note advising that it has been thoroughly sanitised.
Head out for dinner
You won’t want to wander too far from home, particularly during Melbourne’s unpredictable winters, so try one of the culinary mainstays in the bustling CBD. I love old school romance, so subterranean institutions like Il Solito Posto, Phillipe, and Cecconis will always ooze cool in my opinion — and there’s something irrepressibly cosy about being plied with European fare from a velvet-lined booth underground when the weather is particularly bad.
If you’re looking for an after-dinner tipple, pop into The Douglas Club — the brand new, moody cocktail bar downstairs at Hilton LQS. It’s only a quick elevator ride up to your room, post-martini.
Breakfast in bed
After a soothing rain shower, pop on a robe and order breakfast in bed — Hilton LQS delivers specialties from their restaurant downstairs, Luci, straight to your room.
If you can drag yourself out of bed before check out, pop on your best hiking gear and head on a hidden hike (below) to connect with nature. After spending so much time indoors over the past year, we need it!
Go off-grid… in the city
There are so many great hidden hiking trails in Melbourne waiting within a quick tram ride from the city. Merri Creek is always a favourite — a full 21km of undulating, but easy-going, trails leading you from Dights Falls (just a hop from Victoria Park train station) all the way north past Preston.
My personal choice is Yarra Bend Park, 260 hectares of nature reserve only 4km from the CBD. Start at Studley Park Boathouse and pick up a caffeine hit before winding your way through the many beautiful trails on offer. It feels miles from anywhere, despite being just outside the city.
Visit a winery — without leaving the CBD
After you’ve checked out, it’s time to visit the vineyard — but this time, you don’t even need to leave Collins Street. Head to 80 Collins for a little designer shopping, and pop into Handpicked Wines’ cellar door.
Delivering all their own drops straight from the Mornington, Yarra, Barossa and beyond, you can book in for a wine tasting, try a paddle board of their best picks, or purchase a case to take home. They’ll even match it with a cheese board or charcuterie plate to boot.
So what’s on the itinerary for the rest of the afternoon? Well, this IS Melbourne, so there are options aplenty… the choice is entirely yours.
Bianca was hosted at Hilton Melbourne LQS with a complimentary night, breakfast and lunch, for the purposes of writing this article.
Bianca O’Neill is a travel writer at AWOL, columnist at Rolling Stone Magazine, Broadsheet, and the editor of Medium’s The Travel List travel publication. Follow her on Instagram at @bianca.oneill. Images: Top image Bianca O’Neill. Douglas Club image Sean Fennessey, provided by Hilton.