Laneways by Ovolo is at 19 Little Bourke Street on the east side of the CBD, just a hop from Spring Street and Parliament House. It's within walking distance of many city sights.
Fly into Melbourne Airport (www.melbourneairport.com.au), 22 kilometres north-west of the centre at Tullamarine, which receives domestic and international flights. From the airport rank you can catch a metered taxi to Laneways, or take the Skybus (www.skybus.com.au) shuttle service to Southern Cross Station in the CBD for AU$20 for a single, then bag a cab from there. The hotel offers roundtrip transfers for AU$60–80.
Melbourne’s main railway hub is Flinders Street Station in the CBD, just one stop away from Southern Cross Station where V/Line (www.vline.com.au) trains depart for rural Victoria and interstate destinations. Laneways's nearest station is Parliament, just a minute's walk away, which connects around the city loop and to metropolitan destinations further afield.
Arriving with your own wheels? The Ovolo's partner car park (Wilson Parking, 55 Bourke Street) is about 500 metres from the hotel, costing AU$16 for 24 hours or per exit for hotel guests (call in to Laneways first if you need directions). To reach the hotel, enter Little Bourke Street from Spring Street, and you'll spy it after about 30 metres on the left.
Melbourne's iconic trams are one of the best ways to get about town; buy a Myki travel card (www.myki.com.au) online or from a train station to use on trams, buses or metropolitan trains. You can top it up at tram stops or select retail outlets, such as 7-Eleven stores. The nearest tram stops to Laneways are on Spring Street, Bourke Street or Collins.
Worth getting out of bed for
You're handy for the Princess Theatre, just round the corner on Spring Street, if you want to take in a show, Chinatown for food, and the MCG for sporting events. It's also a short walk to Southbank for riverside rambles, Federation Square and St Kilda Road for the NGV art galleries or Fitzroy for edgier stores (make for Gertrude, Smith, Brunswick and Johnston streets). If you want to stock up for a picnic in nearby Treasury or Fitzroy Gardens, swing by Spring St Grocer (+61 (0)3 9639 0335) at 157 Spring Street, a dreamy deli which boasts a cheese room, charcuterie, gelateria, coffees and takeaway dishes by chef Ian Curley (from the European). For more seasonal produce, Queen Victoria Market is only a walk or tram ride west.
For a designer shopping hit, the CBD is your oyster. Make for the major department stores Myer, David Jones and H&M, the giant Swedish retailer occupying the site of the former GPO. Flinders Lane is a good bet for independent galleries, stores, bars and restaurants; Degraves Street is a one-stop foodie fix.
A quartet of respected restaurants are all within a wander of Laneways. Head to Longrain (+61 (0)3 9671 3151), across the road at 44 Little Bourke Street, for gorgeous Thai fare in Scandi-sleek surrounds. Just a couple of laneways away, Gingerboy (+61 (0)3 9662 4200), at 27–29 Crossley Street, is a must for Asian hawker market-inspired dishes, with sharing plates served in a modern space. For elegant Euro treats in an intimate setting, stroll to the European (+61 (0) 9654 0811) at 161 Spring Street, open from breakfast to dinner daily. For sophisticated Italian, make for Grossi Florentino (+61 (0)3 9662 1811), at 80 Bourke Street, which sports a more formal Restaurant and Grill, and a more casual enoteca, the Cellar Bar, ideal for a nibble over a glass of white.
If you can handle the queue, Mexican du jour Mamasita (+61 (0)3 9650 3821) serves tasty cerviches, tacos and quesadillas at Level 1, 11 Collins Street. For Vietnamese rice paper rolls, dumplings and pancakes, pop to casually cool Miss Chu at 297 Exhibition Street. For grazing right beside Laneways, try Italian restaurant Mezzo (+61 (0)3 9650 0988) at 35 Little Bourke Street.
Right opposite Laneways, your nearest caffeine hit is Le Petite Bourke (+61 (0)3 9663 4484), at 24 Little Bourke Street, a retro-cute Turkish café serving muffins, tarts, filo-pastry filled with feta and spinach, Turkish delight and more, with quaint, traditional interiors. For heart-starting espresso all day (or a stomach-filling plate of pasta at lunch), commandeer a bar stool at iconic Melbourne café Pellegrini's (+66 (0)3 9662 1885) at 66 Bourke Street, opposite Von Haus. Old-school cool rules, along with an older clientele who've been patronising the joint for years. Also nearby, hip café Self-Preservation (+61 (0)3 9650 0523), at 70 Bourke Street, offers lip-smacking coffee, wine and seasonal food, backdropped by art and jewellery. Another minimal port of call is The Mess Hall (+61 (0)3 9654 6800), at 51 Bourke Street; bag a table by the window for pizza, pasta and top people-watching at lunch.
Aim for the skies at two of Melbourne's best rooftop bars. Siglo, the chic terrace bar above the European on Spring Street, is ideal for quaffing fine wine with views over Parliament House. The crowd can be a tad conservative, so dress up a dash. Kookier and kitscher, Madame Brussels (+61 (0) 9662 2775), at Level 3, 59–63 Bourke Street, is all about necking Pimm's in a faux-garden party rooftop pad, with wait staff togged up in Fred Perry tennis whites (take the lift to the left of ground-floor Spaghetti Tree). If you'd prefer to stay on terra firma, you won't go wrong at stylish City Wine Shop (+61 (0)3 9654 6657), at 159 Spring Street beside Siglo, which offers a smart edit of Australian and European wines, cheese, olives and light bites, with romantic seats inside and airy ones spilling onto the pavement. For a true insider laneway tip, check out secretive combo Double Happiness and New Gold Mountain (+61 (0)3 9650 4488), a pair of seductive sister cocktail bars squirreled away at 21 Liverpool Street (look for the bike mounted on the façade).