Great wine, great coffee and great graffiti are the pillars on which the city of Melbourne stands. So, it must be overflowing with pride at its latest opening, Zagame’s House on Lygon Street – AKA ‘Little Italy’. Zorro-esque ‘Zs’ are etched in street-art style on its outside flank and two restaurants, championing – you guessed it – great coffee and great wine, have become firm fixtures among guests and locals. It’s been a hotel in the Zagame family for 16 years, but has just been spruced to the tune of many millions by renowned Melbourne brothers, Victor and Robert Zagame, who’ve wooed design heavyweights and sourced eye-catching artworks. Add to that a winning brunch of breakfast ramen, Belgian waffles and açaí-infused granola bowls – and you’ll be rooted to the Garden City in no time.
Get this when you book through us:
A voucher of AU$20 towards food and drink at the Lord Lygon
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm. There’s free luggage storage on request.
Double rooms from $121.89 (AU$179), excluding tax at 10 per cent.
Rates do not usually include breakfast.
Staff dress as stylishly as the hotel, sporting uniforms by Australian beachwear brand Robb & Lulu.
At the hotel
A 24-hour gym with weights, kettlebells, treadmills, yoga mats and more; free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen Samsung TV with free Chromecast movies (or connect via your devices); Marshall Bluetooth speakers; coffee machine; kettle; free bottled water; curated minibar stocked with the likes of Australian whisky Sullivans Cove and wines from the Lord Lygon; a cocktail kit; Cowshed bath products; Muk hairdryer, straighteners and curling tongs; robes; free Zagame’s House-branded socks; pillow menu; acoustic soundproofing throughout.
Our favourite rooms
Suites give you a bit more space, but all rooms are created equal. And by equal, we mean seriously hi-tech: Muk hairdryers and straighteners use infrared to toast your tresses; the minibar’s equipped with a sensor, charging items if lifted for more than 60 seconds; and bathroom mirrors come with three different light settings to avoid make-up fails. We also loved the personalised touches: from a potion of essential oils left at turndown to a welcome poem written, which doubles up as a voucher for free cocktail at the Lord Lygon.
Running shoes so you can escape to the ’burbs and explore the bushland trails around Yarra Bend Park.
The hotel is wheelchair-accessible with lift access to all rooms, a ramp to the Lord Lygon and designated spaces in the car park.
Canine companions are welcomed with a bag of goodies, an in-room dining menu and even a free ‘furry movie of the month’ (yes, really). The hotel also works with local partners if you need to book dog walking, pet sitting or grooming. See more pet-friendly hotels in Melbourne.
All welcome. The entire hotel is accessible for buggies and there are board games, puzzles and a PlayStation to borrow, plus in-house movies for children. Travel or foldaway cots and cribs, high chairs, baby bath products and more are also available.
All waste is recycled, rooms have light sensors and food is locally sourced and seasonal.
Grab a stool by 1851’s window overlooking Lygon Street and watch the Melburnian world go by.
Backwards cap and boardies for breakfast; like a fine wine for dinner.
Sample Melbourne’s buoyant brunch culture without stepping beyond Zagame’s door. Streetside café 1851 Coffee Kitchen is named after the year the Carlton neighbourhood was founded during the Victorian-era Gold Rush and serves flat whites by star roasters Mansfield Coffee Merchant and food from chef Michael Tse, including breakfast ramen, Belgian waffles and eggs Benedict with Pialligo Estate bacon and brown-butter Béarnaise. In case you need to up your Melbourne brunch game further, there are hemp-seed hotcakes and açaí-infused granola bowls. From the earthenware crockery to the orb lighting and communal bench tables, the design looks as good as the food.
On the other side of the ground floor, darker and more decadent Lord Lygon is the perfect date-night spot, whether for lunch and dinner, with full-wall windows that frame buzzy Lygon Street and walls lined with 280 wine bottles. The menu focuses on tapas-style dishes of chorizo and wagyu meatballs, baked Camembert with Turkish bread and bourbon-glazed lamb ribs. Another triumph by chef Michael Tse.
The Lord Lygon restaurant doubles as the hotel’s destination drinking den. As well as hundreds of Aussie wines, there’s single-serve Everleigh Bottling Co cocktails, beard-stroking craft beers and more.
Breakfast at 1851 Coffee Kitchen is from 6.30am to 11am; Lord Lygon serves lunch and dinner from 11am to 10pm.
The kitchen never sleeps with the full menu available during restaurant hours (6.30am-10pm) and toasties filled with truffle cheese and harissa chicken at other times.
Zagame’s House sits in the Carlton district on Lygon Street – known as ‘Little Italy’ for its pizzerias and trattorias. It also borders Melbourne’s CBD, not far from vibrant Queen Victoria Market and the Unesco-listed Royal Exhibition Building.
Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport is 21 kilometres away (a 25-minute drive) from Zagame’s House. The hotel can arrange private one-way transfers for A$95. You can also get the Skybus from the airport to Melbourne City (Southern Cross station) for AU$19.75 one way.
Melbourne Central train station is a kilometre away from the hotel, meaning it’s an easy hop to explore the city and its suburbs.
There’s a car park by reception, costing AU$25 for 24 hours.
Worth getting out of bed for
Italian émigrés have flocked to Melbourne’s Lygon Street for decades, with many pizzerias and trattorias having been stalwarts of the street for some 40 years. Of course, you can also tick off Melbourne’s own tricolore of good wine, good coffee and good street art in the hotel and in the Carlton neighbourhood, too. There’s Queen Victoria Market for a start, with hundreds of hole-in-the-wall delis, street-food stalls and hawker-style night markets. Nearby in the CBD, Hosier Lane is the city’s open-air art gallery, where polished bluestone laneways are scrawled with vivid stencils and graffiti murals. That’s not to say there’s a dearth of green spaces, mind. Melbourne’s moniker as the ‘Garden City of Australia’ takes root nearby in Carlton Gardens, a 60-acre stretch of leafy Victorian-era parkland, crowned by the Unesco-listedRoyal Exhibition Building and an award-winning children's playground, with sand pits, slides, swings and more. To the north in Yarra, there’s also the Royal Botanical Gardens – a former swamp turned horticultural hideaway of sub-tropical plants and indigenous species, set around a vast ornamental lake. And this being Australia, sand is also close at hand: St Kilda is wide and popular, while Brighton Beach is lined with Crayola-coloured huts.
One of Lygon Street’s recent success stories is King and Godfree, the revamped 135-year-old Italian grocery – owned by the Valmorbida family – that now includes a wine bar, deli, restaurant, ice-cream parlour and rooftop spot with 360-degree views, where you can stop by for an espresso, a bowl of pasta, a scoop of gelato or even a cookery class. Two other flag-waving trattorias in Little Italy are 40-year-old pizza parlour Il Gambero, with a long list of stone-baked slabs, and Tiamo for thickly coated pastas. The hipster scene is also alive and well on Lygon, with the likes of Heartattack and Vine (named after the Tom Waits album) serving gluten-free eggplant rolls and Venetian-style cicchetti to streetside benches and a beanie-wearing crowd. For a taste of the old country, we loved European-accented Epocha, which uses Aussie ingredients for dishes such as Tasmanian hanger steak with mash in a parkside spot overlooking Carlton Gardens.
If you’re in need of a drink, you’ve come to the right place. The Carlton neighbourhood – and Lygon Street especially – is a glass-half-full sort of place, whether that’s sipping wine on the sun-trap terrace at Jimmy Watson’s – a Melbourne institution since 1935 – or admiring the artful matcha lattes at Raffa Place roastery Vertue Coffee (who also do a mean brunch). Two other hangouts had us doing the rounds: don’t miss Carlton Wine Room with its 100-strong wine list, including sommelier-style staff favourites and organic or biodynamic blends to ease morning-after heads; and Atticus Finch – named after the To Kill a Mockingbird character – which doles out craft beers, signature cocktails, cheese plates and charcuterie boards.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this sybarite-summoning hotel in Melbourne and unpacked their single-estate wines and Mansfield Coffee Merchant blends, a full account of their Australian city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Zagame’s House on Lygon Street…
At one time, Melbourne’s Lygon Street had (ahem)… something of a reputation. But the city’s Little Italy enclave is changing fast. Gone are the down-and-out diners, replaced with the likes of King and Godfree – a revamped 135-year-old Italian grocery complex that now includes a wine bar, deli, restaurant, ice-cream parlour and 360-degree rooftop spot. A couple of blocks down is Zagame’s House – another new-but-old address that’s been in the same family for 16 years, but has just had many millions to revamp it as a modern-day destination for Melbourne’s wine-chasing, coffee-loving locals. Join them for brunch over açaí bowls at 1851 Coffee Kitchen or for date-night drinks and dinner at the Lord Lygon while saluting the new-look Lygon Street. The future is written.
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