Melbourne is a real metropolis now and so Mr Rosanna and I decided to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary last week using a gift voucher that family had given us for an overnight stay at The Langham down near Southbank. I’ve previously been to a high tea in the Aria Bar at The Langham as well as enjoyed a spa treatment at Chuan Spa but have never stayed there.
While my favourite hotel is The Sofitel down the Paris end of Collins Street, the Langham has river views of the Yarra (view from our room above) and is located right in the heart of the city. We shipped the kids and the dog off to family who had very generously offered to mind them and checked into our hotel on Friday afternoon – something we’ve not done since having our kids.
We got there before peak hour and had a swim in the pool and spa (view of the pool from our room above) which overlook the Yarra river and sun lounge area. On warmer days, the glass doors looking out are opened up to take advantage of the sun. Note to self if I ever return – don’t try and take the stairs down to the pool as there’s no door entry! Somewhat embarrassingly, Mr R and I thought we’d use our legs and walk down as our room was located near a stair exit but then we got stuck on level 9 and had security escort us back up to our floor. The internal door did open if we had been smart enough to return to our floor otherwise if we’d not had a phone on us we would have been even more embarrassed to have to walk down to level 1 reception in our bathers, robes and slippers!
After leaving it too late to get a dinner booking at Ezard at the Adelphi hotel in Flinders Lane, which has been there 20 years but recently undergone a renovation, I had booked an early dinner at Maha (me and Mr R pictured above) and that was probably a better choice given it’s walking distance from The Langham across the bridge over the Yarra and a dark and moody subterranean space downstairs that suits the colder months. I’ve wanted to go to Maha ever since working with Shane Delia two years ago on the Bold Thinking series lecture on the Mediterranean diet. Shane has also just opened Maha East – his new outpost in Windsor.
The original Maha has a four course sharing menu as well as six, and eight course (full degustation), options. After some consideration, we opted for the six course menu but given we added one of the specials – scallops – to our menu and then were given a surprise course of granita before dessert (an anniversary special), we ended up having eight courses, which was a real indulgence. You can also have wine matching if you’re a serious drinker but Mr R opted for wine by the glass and me as a non-drinker was happy they had a good selection of mocktails with a Middle Eastern twist.
After our dinner, we walked back to the hotel but stopped in briefly to check out the heritage-listed Rendezvous Hotel on Flinders Street after noticing its decorative exterior. It was well worth the stickybeak to marvel at the beautiful domed ceiling in the wood-panelled foyer and while we didn’t see the rooms, the old traveller’s hotel is a beautiful one. We went on to have a late night drink in the Aria Bar at The Langham where we enjoyed some live music from Perolas – a fantastic musical duo on harp (yes – a harp!) and guitar finding out later that the female singer Liana Pearl is a La Trobe alumna who has gone on to post-graduate music therapy studies.
We slept in the next day but enjoyed the full buffet breakfast in the Melba Restaurant where it feels quite international – Mr R said the Langham reminded him of the Shangri-La in Manila where he’s previously been for work and I think the Langham is owned by Asians. Taking advantage of our late check out, we were very lucky to get to the NGV before the crowds for the opening weekend of the Terracotta Warriors and Cai Guo-Qiang, which was fantastic. I’ve grown to appreciate my Chinese heritage and culture a lot more as I’ve matured and some of the works on exhibition are beautifully intricate when you see them up close. It’s a seamless combination of modern and traditional art and Guo-Qiang’s work with 10,000 hanging porcelain starlings and gunpowder art (pictured below) is pretty awe-inspiring – if you go, make sure you watch the video at the end of him lighting up his work and setting it on fire.
After the show, we grabbed a spot outside in the sun by the river (view from our table below) at Waterfront Southgate – a place that looks fantastic for a special lunch out with fresh sashimi and seafood grill on offer from Japanese and Italian chefs. We were still too full from dinner the night before and breakfast to have anything more than a coffee before returning to our hotel to pack up and leave. There are so many places now to stay in the city including boutique and small hotels, not just 5-star places, and I can highly recommend spending 24 hours in our own city as tourists if you get a chance to do it.