An exclusive peek inside the new W Melbourne
To really understand the soul of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, its lanes and laneways are a good place to start. Over 230 laneways wind their way between Melbourne’s larger city streets, establishing an intimacy that belies its population of almost five million, and revealing the city’s understated delights.
From some of the city’s best restaurants – with plenty of private dining spaces – to many of its best bars – ideal for event attendees keen for a nightcap – incredible coffee to kickstart the day – Melbournians are obsessed with pushing the envelope on caffeine constructions – and world renowned street art galleries with more Instagram hashtags than some of the city’s traditional attractions, discovering Melbourne’s laneways is one of the great pleasures of visiting Melbourne.
While your event program might take you out of the city – to Australia’s oldest wine region, the Yarra Valley, south of Melbourne, to the fairy penguin parade on Phillip Island, or to marvel from above at the majesty of the rugged coastline along the Great Ocean Road and the iconic Twelve Apostles – evenings will bring you back into the city where discoveries await, if you know where to look.
Enter the W Melbourne, opening in December 2020, located on one of Melbourne’s trendiest lanes, in the architecturally spectacular Collins Arch. The latest W Hotel to launch in Australia, it will reflect the city’s laneway culture, while its signature W Insiders will know exactly where to go in spare moments before, between or after planned event schedules.
W Melbourne’s General Manager Damon Page – a born and bred Melbournian – says the hotel will be “quintessentially Melbourne”.
“The whole design narrative behind W Melbourne is very much peeling back [the layers of Melbourne] — it’s that laneway existence. It’s how you feel when you walk the Melbourne streets – that’s brought to life throughout the interior design of the hotel,” he says.
“The fact that it’s designed a different way [to other W hotels] …that’s part of what makes W globally so exciting. We don’t have a cookie cutter approach to the way in which we design and build.”
W Melbourne’s distinctively luxurious reflection of its home begins as soon as you walk into the hotel’s lobby where you are greeted by a huge lenticular wall painted by a local artist.
“The design is very much around bringing [native Australian plant] the wattle, the stars, the moon, the big skies that Australia has, the flora and fauna – all of that, into this massive lenticular wall, as you walk in,” says Page.
And that’s just the start. Odes to Melbourne are scattered throughout the hotel, highlighting what has shaped the city – from floor numbers being a nod to Melbourne’s global importance in the street art scene, to guest room wardrobes reminiscent of Melbourne’s classic street kiosks which sold newspapers and sweets in days gone by. There is a tribute to one of Melbourne’s most iconic outlaws – historical, rest assured – and a hint of the Melbourne Cup – the horse race so much a part of Melbourne’s culture that there’s an annual holiday for it – while peel-backs on bedheads prepare guests to delve into the layers of the city from the moment they wake. Minibars will be stacked with products which are as local as possible, from Melbourne and the wider Victorian region first and foremost, then from other Australian states.
W Melbourne’s event spaces continue their homage to the city. The soaring ceiling of the Great Room, the hotel’s largest event space at 426sq m/4585sq ft, is also a work of street art; and the smooth flowing interior design of WET, the indoor pool space on the 14th floor, which can host cocktail functions for smaller groups, is based on an ancient indigenous story about Melbourne’s Yarra River. Altogether W Melbourne has almost 830sq m/8930sq ft of event space, including four other breakout Studios.
To augment incentive experiences further, there are the W Insiders, who can reveal more of Melbourne’s secrets to explore during any down time.
“The W Insider is something we hold quite close to our chest in the sense that it is a differential point for us,” says Page, who describes the position as a chief concierge “and a whole lot more”.
“The Insider tends to be the sort of person who you or I might want to go out to the bar with. It’s a person that gets what you want, because they do it.”
“The Insider is…the type of person that has the relationships with the right people to ensure that your experience when you go [somewhere] is a little bit more than [the standard].”
And, of course, the main entrance to the hotel is on the fashionable Flinders Lane, walking distance from the city centre, the Yarra River and all its waterfront restaurants, and the convention centre.
“My desire always for the hotel, was that we were on Flinders Lane. Flinders Lane as an address lends itself to that creativity that W, as a brand, is,” says Page. “We very much consider ourselves that rebel between the streets.”
For more information visit the W Melbourne website.