There are few occasions that aren’t made better by Swiss chocolate.
The Movenpick group incorporates this universal knowledge into each of their hotels, and their newest offering in Melbourne is no exception.
Every afternoon a long grazing table in the lobby is laden with luscious treats for Chocolate Hour. The chocoholic’s dream begins; ice cream parfait in cut glass jars, crunchy churros with bowls of ganache, and delicately crusted macarons are piled on plates.
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Huge shards of chocolate separate the white chocolate buttons from the milk flakes, strawberries dipped in chocolate and painted gold sit alongside miniature profiteroles and marshmallows, tiny chocolate cups filled with orange dark chocolate flank brownies dusted with icing sugar, and miniature cones with more mousse protrude from large dessert glasses.
Chocolate delicacies completely cover every surface. Hotel guests hover about, itching to begin, until a teenage boy makes the first move then the rest leap upon the table, filling plates and wiping chocolate from the big grins on their faces.
Directly across the road from Southern Cross Station, and a short stroll to Marvel Stadium, this is one of Melbourne’s most convenient hotels for rail travellers. The Bourke Street tram stops at the door, delivering passengers into the heart of the laneway shopping, drinking and dining district in minutes.
The Movenpick is all about lines and design. Like the pointy alps of Switzerland the jagged lines are evident in the light, the shadows, the eaves of the roof and even the vertical louvres of the swimming pool windows.
The 172 room hotel forms the first six floors of the new Premier Tower building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets. Designed by Elenberg Fraser architects, the curved building is a new landmark for Melbourne.
Our family suite consists of two rooms joined by a private hallway. It has the signature Movenpick Group elegance. Modern leather bed heads rest against black and white striped wallpaper, and vibrant use is made of plush velvet sofas. In the halls and the rooms, teal is the colour of the moment.
The 55 inch TV has 40 channels plus chromecast, and blackout curtains make sleeping in a dream. Movenpick’s culinary focus extends to the in-room dining menu; the room service fries come with sides of aioli and tomato chutney. You can also choose from steamed pork buns, prawn dumplings and nasi goreng.
The pool on Level 6 overlooks Southern Cross Station. For the ultimate mood lighting, the spa is illuminated with coloured lights which change on rotation. The cedar wood sauna is a more natural affair with the healing scent improving the chocolate-induced feeling of wellbeing.
The mirrored ceiling, striped and fashioned into diamond shapes, reflects swimmers as they traverse the 25m length. It also reflects the sights and sounds of passing trams outside making the leisurely nature of a midday swim even more indulgent.
Onsite restaurant, Miss Mi, faces Bourke Street and has all the glitz and glamour of high end Asia tucked into a Melbourne corner. I love the gold cutlery, sweeping orientalist paintings and soft lighting.
The cuisine is sublime; a sensational journey that takes diners around Asia in small mouthfuls, from Borneo, to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and then to Sri Lanka for dessert. Starters of green mango slices with a spicy Jeow bang chilli sauce, seasoned peanuts and pickled vegetables whet the appetite for the street snack style entrees; duck and mussels.
The main meals are glorious. Hinava from Borneo, a dish similar to ceviche with a more Malaysian lime flavour, is first on the set menu, followed by a Khmer chicken salad that looks like a floral arrangement with sprinkles of white, purple and orange flowers.
The hero of the meal is the deconstructed wagyu beef rendang, also adorned with flowers. The tenderness of the beef is matched by the intensity of the curry, and is as close to perfect as this writer has ever experienced. Watalapan arrives for dessert; the delicious coconut custard with rhubarb caramelised in hibiscus is topped off with a sweet cashew nut crunch.
I love that Movenpick hotels capture the essence of the cities they are located in. This one plays on all of Melbourne’s strengths. Just as the Balinese version reflects the spirituality of Bali, and the Hobart hotel reflects the colours of the Tasmanian landscape, the Movenpick Melbourne hotel ‘feels’ very Melbourne.
When you see the city lights and hear tram bells ringing from the pool, the room or the restaurant, you know exactly where you are.
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