Been longing to get away from it all? Your luxury escape is easier – and closer – than you think. You don’t even have to leave your city. All you really need is a retreat from the everyday, into the extraordinary. Whisk yourself away to a luxurious sanctuary on your doorstep with a Next Hotel staycation.
Next is renowned for offering hotel experiences that are a cut above the average – and always with a few intriguing local twists. Melbourne’s Next Hotel on Little Collins Street lives up to this reputation. From the moment you reach the lobby lounge for check-in, you’ll feel your cares fall away as you enter the embrace of elegance and luxury. The bespoke modernist design of the hotel and rooms draw from the history, culture and architecture of Little Collins Street and the surrounding fashion precinct and Chinatown. Intriguing. Eclectic. Welcoming. This is your home now.
Take the keycard and head to your personal sanctuary. From the elegant simplicity of the Next Room to the Club Two Bedroom Suites with a separate lounge area, spa-inspired bathroom and original pieces by local artist Julia Gorman, Next marries understated design with luxurious comfort. Lie back on French linens, restore your energy with a quick Nespresso, cast from your device to the smart TV, set the soundtrack to your stay via the Bose sound system or refresh with Hunter Lab bath products. The mundane everyday will seem a world away.
If you’re checking into a Club room, you can enjoy evening canapes and drinks in their exclusive Club lounge, and refreshments throughout the day. Eat, drink and be merry, for you also have access to the fitness centre and on-site personal trainers.
Glam up in your finest threads: You’re dining in tonight. But this isn’t the uninspired hotel bistro of bad holiday memories The entire third floor of Next is set aside for boozy and gastronomic pleasures worthy of the Melbourne CBD. Next Hotel and its General Manager David Ness have gone to great efforts to ensure that the Barrel Room and attached restaurant, La Madonna, aren’t just hotel spaces, but venues in their own right, staffed by Melbourne’s finest hospitality professionals.
Begin at the Barrel Room for an aperitivo like no other. The Barrel Room houses Next’s own liquor and cocktail barrel ageing program – the first of its kind for an Australian hotel. Decant and explore house liqueurs, experimental aged spirits, fortified wines or unique cocktails, such as the exquisitely smooth and aromatic 1951 Martini, matured in ex-Chardonnay barrels for two weeks. Book one of their “immersive encounters” to get closer and have a chat with the Spirits Master himself, Phil Smithers, and join the Thieving Club for private tastings and your own tailored spirit ageing (launching from May 4. If you fall in love with the exclusive house liquors and Phil’s expertise, you’ll be delighted to find a few pre-batched cocktails waiting for you in the minibar. You can also enjoy house cocktails and fine wines beneath the towering mirrored shelves of the extensive La Madonna Bar. Want something a little more personal? Just speak to the skilled mixologists for a tipple designed just for you.
Sit at the bar or withdraw into the plush booths and feasting tables of La Madonna Restaurant, helmed by a Melbourne chef dream team: Danny Natoli and Adrian Li. There’s more than a passing reference to the comforting home cooking of mama on this menu – a nod to Natoli’s Sicilian heritage – but these are mother’s classics refined. A steak diane (Bistecca alla Diana) wouldn’t look out of place at her dinner party, but you’ve never had it so perfectly prepared, and using the highest quality local produce. It’s worth that $100 price tag. After all, you didn’t come here for anything less than the best. Even the pappardelle ragú, from Natoli’s grandmother’s own home recipe, is a fine-dining delight, with that tender yield of fresh pasta, a freshness of toasted fennel seed and sharp tomato, and that comforting saucy hug of meat and cheese.
You can explore the unique fusion of Natoli and Li best in the extensive menu of small dishes. Expect sumptuous snacks, such as Togarashi smoked walnuts; Kingfish crudo, confit octopus and ‘forgotten citrus’, and their already-iconic compressed tomato, white soy, stracciatella and basil, smeared on crisp sourdough toasts. Can’t decide? Choose the Mangiare set option and let the experts lead you. This fresh take on Italian influences and Hong Kong’s gastronomic melting pot provides the perfect exploratory base for diving into the wine list, where you’ll find a strong Italian contingent with a number of worthy Australian and French producers. Or, you can always continue with cocktails. You’re on holiday, after all. Linger as long as you like until the bar closes, then retire to your boutique suite and enjoy the best night’s rest of your life on a Dreamweaver sleep system. This is how the other half sleeps, my friend.
When you wake, a leisurely breakfast awaits. If you’re part of the Club, help yourself to the Continental style spread in the lounge, including artisan pastries, coffee, quiche and hot dishes. If you’d prefer a more formal, sit-down affair, return to the loving arms of La Madonna for floor-to-ceiling city views with your boozy bircher or omelette. If you’d rather just sleep until checkout, grab breakfast on the go from Ingresso cafe at the foyer.
Maybe you’ll stay one night. Maybe two or three, using Next as the base for exploring Melbourne’s attractions and events. Whatever your luxury staycation looks like, you’ll emerge renewed and ready to see your city in a whole new light.
Until Next time.
The writer was a guest of Next Hotel Melbourne and La Madonna.