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Sofitel Melbourne

I used to stay at the Sofitel Melbourne many years ago as a corporate traveller but this beautiful hotel was wasted on me back then.  When you’re travelling for business there is no one to share your luxurious room and you don’t get to enjoy it much as you’re at work all day (and all night sometimes). It was a treat — not to mention a trip down memory lane — to return to the Sofitel Melbourne with my family more than 15 years later for a two night stay. The Sofitel Melbourne is just a few minute’s walk from the Princess Theatre which made it the perfect hotel for us as we were in Melbourne to see Harry Potter & The Cursed Child.

Club Lounge at Sofitel Melbourne
Leisure travellers enjoying the Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge

The Sofitel Melbourne was the perfect ‘home away from home’ for our family. We loved our ‘theatre stay’ and really made the most of it. Read on to discover my ‘secret tip’ for seeing Harry Potter & The Cursed Child in conjunction with a stay at the Sofitel Melbourne. You’ll be glad you did! With accommodation starting on Level 36 even the ‘low floors’ at the Sofitel Melbourne offer amazing views. Bay View rooms are considered premium but the opposite side of the hotel is equally appealing. At night a sparkling carpet of lights from Melbourne’s outer suburbs stretches into the distance from the hotel’s more affordable city view rooms. 

City lights
View from the Sofitel Melbourne

We had a Prestige Suite which included access to Club Sofitel, the Sofitel Melbourne’s Club Lounge. Hotels originally introduced the club floor concept to cater for the business traveller market.  Corporate types could pay extra to stay in rooms on a select number of levels and gain access to a dedicated club. The aim was to provide an alternative to sitting around in a hotel room and somewhere corporate high flyers could relax at the end of the day, feel comfortable and access special benefits and facilities.  However, travelling for business can make it hard to get good value from a club lounge stay.

Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge breakfast
Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge breakfast

You’re often in the wrong frame of mind to linger at the luxurious lounge, not to mention working late which means you don’t get to enjoy many of the club’s benefits.  Leisure travellers usually have far more time to enjoy a club floor’s charms, as we discovered during our two-night stay. A feeling of exclusivity was immediately apparent when we entered Club Sofitel. Along with impressive views of Melbourne, there were plush furnishings, and complimentary breakfast, complimentary light lunch, high tea and pre-dinner drinks available every day.

Seating consists of a circular lounge which wraps around a glass fireplace and a series of cafe style tables which are available in different configurations. There are no lounge chairs or couches except those in the small waiting area near the Club Lounge reception desk. There’s also a meeting space plus a separate room for playing video games and watching movies tucked away in the Club Lounge. It’s hidden down a corridor so ask the staff if you have trouble finding it.

Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge gaming room
Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge gaming room

For breakfast there was a continental buffet with fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereal and pastries plus an a la carte hot breakfast menu. Breakfast in the club is complimentary as is the afternoon tea. We weren’t surprised to discover club guests often jump on a tram and head back to the hotel to indulge. Our Prestige Suite had a separate lounge area with a fold out couch which was perfect for our family of two adults and a teen. The windows had stunning views of the Yarra River and out to the bay and there was plenty of space for storing our luggage and spreading out.

Sofitel Melbourne Prestige Suite
Sofitel Melbourne Prestige Suite

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Our suite showed a few signs of wear and tear, such as a water leak in the wardrobe and a broken handle on the interconnecting door, but none of these things impacted on our stay. We didn’t indulge at any of the hotel restaurants but noticed the afternoon tea at Sofi’s Lounge in the lobby drew a crowd.

Sofitel Melbourne is located at ‘the Paris end’ of Collins Street near Parliament House and, of course, the Princess Theatre.  There is a tram stop directly outside the hotel which we used a lot as all tram rides in the CBD are free. There’s no need to buy a ticket, simply jump on and off you go.  We loved the location of this hotel which was close to everything we wanted to do such as strolling Melbourne’s street art laneways and shopping at the Bourke Street Mall. You could easily walk to the Australian Open from the Sofitel Melbourne and even glimpse the games from some rooms.

Sofitel Melbourne club lounge breakfast buffet
Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge breakfast buffet

We ate breakfast in the Club Lounge each morning and enjoyed being able to order from an a la carte menu as well as choosing from the buffet. Seating is at a premium during peak times so you might need to be patient when it comes to getting a table during breakfast. And now it’s time for my top tip for staying at the Sofitel Melbourne to see Harry Potter & The Cursed Child. 

The best way to see this two part play is as a matinee and an evening performance on the same day, particularly if you’re like us and visiting from out of town. The first act of Harry Potter & The Cursed Child finished at around 4.45pm, so we were able to return to the hotel and freshen up then head to Club Sofitel for the cocktail hour and snacks which started at 5.30pm. Much to our surprise, this ended up being substantial enough for dinner.

Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge cocktail hour buffet
Sofitel Melbourne Club Lounge cocktail hour buffet

Along with a cold buffet featuring cheeses, dips, salami, breads, crackers, and other similar snacks there were also generous single serve hot dishes on offer. These included pork bao, spring rolls, gyoza, and beef sliders which staff circulated with and offered to guests tableside.  The quality of the food was superb and accompanied by an impressive selection of local and international wines.

Staff were knowledgeable about the local and international wines on offer and happy to offer suggestions which enhanced our overall lounge experience. After enjoying a relaxing and delicious hour or so at the lounge we strolled back to the Princess Theatre for the second half of the play. If you want to make your Melbourne theatre experience really special and a true night to remember, don’t miss staying in a Club Room at the Sofitel Melbourne.

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Sofitel Melbourne.  She would not hesitate to stay at this hotel again at her own expense if she was seeing a show at the Princess or Regent Theatres.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.