Lyall Hotel and Spa
This review of Lyall Hotel and Spa in Melbourne is taken from our guidebook Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection Australia/New Zealand.
‘You look like you’ve been on holiday for weeks,’ says Mr Smith, as I waft back into our room. The truth is I’ve just spent a couple of heavenly hours in the Lyall Spa having a Sodashi facial and Lyall Luxury Pedicure in preparation for the rest of our weekend away. It was bliss: attentive treatment from caring and knowledgeable staff in a serene space, all sleek marble and high ceilings. Flicking through magazines and sipping a fragrant T2 tea as my nail colour dried, it occurred to me that I could spend all weekend here – if Mr Smith wasn’t beckoning.
The spa is the embodiment of the entire low-key yet luxurious Lyall Hotel experience. Even its location – a tree-lined South Yarra street among elegant suburban residences, yet only minutes from the city – is the epitome of understated class.
On arrival earlier that day, we were greeted by one of the lovely reception team, whose talent seemed to be making guests feel like a friend returning home. As our weekend progresses, one of our favourite aspects of the hotel becomes the personal attention of the staff. You get the feeling you are part of an intimate, special experience, rather than staying in an anonymous hotel chain. Perfect.
Our suite – actually, it is more like an apartment – has the wonderful bonus of tall windows, a balcony to sit on and French doors that lead out onto the terrace, overlooking the trees below. We waste no time flinging them open to let in the natural light and fresh air. It seems like a rare treat since a lot of hotels these days feel like sealed air-conditioned boxes. The separate granite kitchen has a stove and large fridge, lots of amenities, and the option of a stocked pantry if you can’t make it to one of the many stores or restaurants around the corner. Fresh fruit is provided on the dining room table. The bed is huge and heavenly, with crisp white sheets and gorgeous plump pillows, and a pillow menu if you want more choice. The bathroom has a heated tiled floor and toiletries from the hotel spa. There is even a television – one of two in our room – positioned so you can watch it from the spa bath. Free broadband is another generous-spirited gesture. Yes, you could easily spend a lot of time holed up in this suite without feeling the need to emerge – pass me the ‘do not disturb’ sign, Mr Smith.
On the first morning of our Melbourne break, Mr Smith and I go downstairs to the intimate Bistro Lyall for breakfast. We take the papers out onto the terrace to read in the sunshine, although the room, like the rest of the hotel, is incredibly inviting. The decor is classic contemporary: all browns, taupes, blacks, moss greens and silver, with tall mirrors, dark woods and cosy-meets-seductive enclaves throughout. The library is especially come-hither with its appealing armchairs, array of newspapers, fresh orchids and soft jazz soundtrack.
If I wasn’t all ready won over, the jelly beans on the reception counter would be the clincher.
Our weekend-away agenda includes a stroll down Toorak Road and into Chapel Street. This is such a renowned retail precinct that the hotel even provides a special shopping privilege card for its guests. I drag Mr Smith along, stopping at Cose, Scanlan & Theodore, AG Arthur Galan and TL Wood among others. We refuel at the Pound, a cute café tucked away off Chapel Street, and finally arrive back at the hotel, where Mr Smith takes to soaking away the day’s efforts in the sybarite-beckoning bath. It seems a spell at Lyall has even made a proselyte of this spa addict’s other half.
That night, we have a pre-dinner drink in the Champagne Bar (not for the first time this weekend it dawns on me that Lyall is begging to have me back for a girls’ getaway), before heading off to Da Noi, an intimate Italian restaurant – chef Pietro Porcu designs a set menu each day based on the produce he’s found at the markets – just down the street.
We spend the rest of the weekend enjoying the neighbourhood around Lyall: Harveys next door for brunch, a short stroll up the hill to the beautiful Botanic Gardens and then down to the Yarra River. We even contemplate taking a couple of the hotel’s bicycles for a spin, but decide instead to relax on the terrace back at the hotel. Lazy? Deliciously so.
I notice, while we take our breather, that every request a guest makes is met with an ‘of course’ or ‘certainly’. Nothing, it seems, is too much trouble for the staff. In fact, they seem to take real pleasure in their work, and feel a personal and proud connection to the hotel and its owners. Even as we are checking out, they seem to have a twinkle in their eyes. It makes us sad to say goodbye.
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Smith extra at Lyall Hotel and Spa
A bottle of Chandon NV (Australian sparkling wine) on arrival