Entering the Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street can be a little tricky if, like me, you are dropped off on Bourke Street and lured towards the hotel’s grand façade. It’s almost impossible not to be drawn to the glamorous Art Deco design and warm glow from the windows of the street-facing bar, The Douglas Club, instead of the official entrance on Little Queen Street.
Walking through these 1920s Art Deco doors brings us to the hotel restaurant, Luci, which has a runway down the centre of it leading to the lifts which we take to reception on level two. We emerge in a lounge and concierge area that overlooks Luci Restaurant’s chandeliers and beautifully styled eating areas that fit effortlessly into the Hilton’s historic vibe and walk around the corner to reception at the hotel’s official entry off Little Queen Street.
We have done most of the check-in and preferencing for our stay before our arrival courtesy of the Hilton Honors app that comes with an electronic key for the lift and door entry and contactless pretty much everything, from ordering room service to messaging through any requests. When we arrived at the hotel reception, the Digital Key section below went green and we were all set. The app makes getting whatever you want while you’re at the hotel very easy. And with the room key on your phone instead of in your pocket, you no longer have to worry about accidentally deactivating it by putting it next to your phone.
The room we requested via the app is a King Deluxe Room with a city view located on the 13th floor with a view towards Bourke Street. The Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street has five room and three suite categories ranging from the entry level King Guest Room to a King Master Suite in the original heritage building. Arriving at our room, we are fans of the decor and fit-out of the room which has a sleek and sophisticated corporate look. The desk and chair are the right height for computer users and make it easy for my wife to get some work done the next day.
The room is compact but stylish and functional with a very comfortable king bed and bathing pleasure courtesy of a rain shower and Hunter toiletries. We both loved the fresh scent of the Hunter products but had a bit of trouble getting them out of their pump packs due to an anti-theft bar which blocked the push down dispensers. After a quick refresh, we headed out to explore the hotel and the nearby streets and laneways. The Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street is located in a great spot for everything Melbourne has to offer with shopping, theatre, and dining only a short stroll or (free) tram ride away. If you are going further afield, the tram stop is located directly outside the entrance. When we first looked at the hotel on a map, we thought it might be a little out of the way but nothing could have been further from the truth. We loved this hotel’s location.
Another very pleasant surprise was Hardware Lane which is just around the corner and a haven for dining aficionados with its blend of bistros, bars, quick Asian eats, and upmarket burger joints. Early morning has me stepping out for a pre-breakfast coffee and I’m spoiled for choice as there are no fewer than dozen cafes in a 100-metre radius. My decision is made simpler by choosing the one with the longest queue which proves to be an excellent choice as Melburnians know their stuff when it comes to coffee – my latte is superb. We head back for a leisurely breakfast at Luci Restaurant and enjoy a well-thought-out buffet with a made-to-order egg selection that is ordered at the table. The buffet features a standout table filled with pastries that are so fresh they almost melt in your mouth.
After exploring some of Melbourne’s galleries and boutiques, we head to The Douglas Bar for a pre-dinner drink. This hotel bar is an ultra-stylish 1920 Art Deco haven with the feel of a classy New York speakeasy. Even if you aren’t staying at the Hilton Melbourne Little Collins Street (and you should), it is worth dropping in here for a drink as the décor is gorgeous and the bartenders know their stuff.
The bar is packed and it looks like there is not a seat to be had but luckily as we arrive, a couple is leaving and kindly gives us their two prime seats at the bar. A smile from the bartender and we have the cocktail list in hand and ask for a few recommendations. The vibe at The Douglas Bar is very cool, stylish and friendly with a mix of hotel guests and business-suited patrons. With the bar’s glamorous Art Deco surroundings and elegant cocktails, it feels as if one of the Mad Men could walk in at any minute.
After some amazing cocktails, we make our way to Luci Restaurant which offers Mod Oz dishes with an Italian twist. The atmosphere in the restaurant is like the rest of the hotel – stylish, refined and relaxed. We are offered a corner booth by the maître d and provided with sparkling water and menus in very quick order. We notice the restaurant quickly filling with patrons, many of whom are inhouse guests who have eaten at the restaurant before and come back again. It doesn’t take long before we find out why.
We choose a glass of wine from the modest but high-quality list and begin our culinary experience by choosing the Five-Course Chef’s Selection Menu. Created by head Chef Sam Moore, the five-course chef’s degustation menu offers a sample of five small dishes like variations of melon, avocado, mint and basil and dry-aged Macedon duck breast, apricots and fennel. It’s sophisticated yet welcoming and accessible to all, much like the hotel itself.
Starting with the melon dish, we quickly realise why this restaurant is becoming so popular. The dishes are exceptional with a stunning presentation and flavours that have us eager for each new course. After our cocktail at The Douglas Club, we are happy to sit on one glass of wine but the degustation comes with wine matching as an option for those who want it. We finish the dinner with a lemon meringue ice cream sandwich which has a face imprinted on the biscuit.
When we mention to our waitress how impressed we are with the design, she tells us the Luci team baked lemon meringue tarts for front line workers during the pandemic. The lemon meringue ice cream dessert is a new twist on the original tarts and a reminder of what happened in the past but also looks towards better times ahead. We also discover the face on the biscuit belongs to a Melbourne local, one of around a dozen used in the kitchen to create these unique treats that have a tangible link to the city where they are created. The dessert and the story behind it provides a sweet finish to what has been a wonderful night.
Disclosure: The writers stayed as guests of Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street and would not hesitate to stay at the hotel again at their own expense.
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