United Places Botanic Gardens
157 Domain Rd, South Yarra
The cues in the name: the hotel enjoys an enviable position right by Melbourne’s beautiful Botanic Gardens, in scenic South Yarra.
Melbourne International Airport at Tullamarine is a half-hour drive away. Smith24 can sort out your flights, if you like.
South Yarra station, a five-minute drive from United Places, is on the Sandringham line, which stops at all stations to Flinders Lane Station in Melbourne’s Central Business District.
It takes just five minutes to get here by car from the CBD. The hotel’s valet parking is offsite but close by; there’s also ample street-parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
Start as you mean to go on – with drinks, dinner or both at the restaurant. Spend some time sudsing and soaping in your bedroom’s sunken bath tub, or sit on your terrace and watch the world go by. Make the most of your on-call butler: ask for restaurant recommendations, off-the-beaten path activities, spa bookings – whatever tickles your fancy. Spend a cultural morning or afternoon at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art on Sturt Street. Browse delicious edible wares at Prahran Market on Commercial Road, open on Tuesday and Thursday–Sunday. Catch a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Brunton Avenue. You can hardly ignore them, since they’re on your doorstep – potter around the blooming lovely Royal Botanic Gardens on Birdwood Avenue.
Begin the day in style with brunch at Gilson, run by a Melbourne culinary power couple (also responsible for city stalwarts such as Barry, Touchwood and Mammoth). Casual fine diner Ramblr does delicious lunches and has a classically trained chef at its helm. Atlas Dining takes global cuisine seriously; the young chef-owner changes the cuisine’s nationality every four months. Dress to impress at swellegant Steer Dining Room: a modern Australian steak restaurant on Claremont Street with a thing for Asian flavours. If you’re in the mood for a more Francophile affair, try Entrecôte, a steakhouse inspired by Le Relais De L'Entrecôte, the Parisian bistro famous for having nothing but steak frites on its menu. Melbourne's equivalent has a more diverse offering, but the signature dish is still steak – a Cape Grim porterhouse, to be exact, served with a 'secret sauce' and bottomless pommes frites. For equally Gallic meals of snails, steak tartare and roast duck, book a table at pint-sized France Soir, where the quality of the food is matched by the bonhomie of the French-speaking waiters. With its breezeblock walls and 22-seat bronze table, contemporary Turkish restaurant Yagiz certainly hits the mark in terms of design, but it's the menu of inspired small plates that steals the show. Chef Murat Ovaz isn’t overly concerned with purism, instead combining all his culinary know-how to create a Turkish menu that’s relevant for Melbourne’s forward-thinking restaurant scene. Expect dishes like confit duck wrapped in yufka pastry, lamb’s liver cooked Albanian style and calamari stuffed with Ezine cheese.
With its jet-black bar, parquet floor and Modernist stained glass windows, Bar Carolina makes a stylish spot for sundowners. Alongside a lengthy cocktail list, this 21st-century trattoria has excellent wines and whiskeys for the purists, and a menu of delectable antipasti should you get peckish. The mixologists are equally adept at Botanical, which is just across the road from the gardens, and Zhou Zhou Bar & Lounge, a vibrant drinking den above the Oriental Tea House. If you’re after Australian wines, try wine bar South Press, where the staff will be more than happy to guide you towards a few under-the-radar vintages.