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Lyall Hotel review, Melbourne: Weekend Away

TIME : 2-26 17:46:26

Lyall Hotel review, Melbourne: Weekend Away

DEFAULT Daniel Scott

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Our rating

5 out of 5

Daniel Scott blisses out in Melbourne's award-winning hotel and spa, the Lyall.

THE PLACE

The Lyall Hotel and Spa, Melbourne

THE LOCATION

Across the river from the CBD in South Yarra, the stately Lyall is on leafy Murphy Street, perilously close, for your credit card, to the chichi boutiques, bars and eateries on Toorak Road and Chapel Street. South Yarra station, a five-minute train ride into the city, is around the corner and Murphy Street is a short stroll, or ride on a complimentary hotel bike, to the Yarra riverside and the Botanic Gardens. It's a quiet, stylish Melbourne enclave in which to kick back between business meetings, bouts of shopping and gastronomic hedonism or if you are Novak Jokovic, between blitzing opponents en route to winning the Australian Open. Again.

THE SPACE

Designed to create a sense of elegant homeliness, the all-suite Lyall gifts guests the luxury of space from the moment they step through the front door into the open reception area. In warmer months the ground-floor Bistro Lyall, also a champagne bar at night, opens out onto the terrace. In winter, the open fire and library, on the opposite side of the foyer, are the place to dawdle. Public areas have a contemporary oriental feel and all four floors feature original artwork mainly referencing Asia.

Altogether, the Lyall has 40 one and two-bedroom suites, including the Platinum Blonde, so-called after celebrity guests Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton, complete with terrace, sitting room, fireplaces and double spa-bath. One-bedroom suites feel generously proportioned, with kitchen, lounge, bathroom with heated floor and separate tub and shower, and bedroom featuring king-sized or single beds. Floor to ceiling windows open onto a balcony and the decor is in restful mushroom and beige colours.

The Lyall spa spans three floors of the hotel and conforms beautifully to the intimate but spacious theme, with warm staff, serene therapy rooms and decadent treatment rituals.

COMFORT

It feels special staying at the Lyall, thanks to the personable service, and it's the attention to detail that makes this private-owned property standout from anodyne chain hotels. With all that art on display and its location, the atmosphere could be rarefied, even snobby, but there's not a trace of that and children are welcome. If only you didn't have all that damned shopping and eating out to do, you could dwell all day at the Lyall.

THE KIT

Actually, with an in-house DVD library, gourmet mini-bar and 24-hour room service, a date night in could be on the cards here. Order an Apple Crumble Martini from the bar and settle in with chocolate frogs and Lick-Me ice-creams. If you must work there is free Wi-Fi throughout and business centre downstairs and if impelled to exercise, a small gym is open 24 hours. Each suite has a pillow menu and the Lyall has its own natural spa products (not tested on animals) in bathrooms.

STEPPING OUT

With all the eateries in Melbourne it is just as well that staff are on hand with recommendations. On my first night I follow hotelier Rowina Thomas's advice, dining across the road at Cucinetta (cucinettamelb.com.au). It's a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant serving up what young owner Ben Dinning calls "Nonna's cooking", with a small blackboard selection of antipasti, paste and secondi, all of which are delectable. On the second night, I join Melbourne's in-crowd at Supernormal (supernormal.net.au), chef Andrew McConnell's refectory-style Asian, in town on Flinders Lane. The Lyall provides some relief to groaning credit cards with an exclusive guest discount card for use in local boutiques and restaurants. Otherwise, have a drink at the Temperance Hotel (temperancehotel.com.au) on Chapel Street, visit Prahran Market (prahranmarket.com.au) for Victoria's best seasonal produce and if you're served an imperfect latte anywhere in this area, report it to the Melbourne coffee police.

THE VERDICT

As impeccable a Melbourne bolt-hole as this writer can imagine. Like returning guest Novak Jokovic, the Lyall's an enduring winner, having taken out four World Travel awards since opening in 2002, including leading boutique hotel in Australia.

ESSENTIALS

Rates start at $272 per night (non-refundable); discounts for two-night packages. See www.thelyall.com