I don’t know about you, but when I have to be away from home for more than just a few days, I much prefer to rent an apartment or flat than a hotel room. Not that I mind hotel rooms, not at all. I have spend a lot of time ‘on the road’ so to speak, and have enjoyed the hospitality of a broad scope of hotels across Europe, Asia and the Pacific, with much pleasure and comfort. However, when it comes to extended stays, even just for a few days, I’d choose an apartment just because I like to have room to stretch out and feel a little ‘at home’ where ever I am.
So, when I recently had to attend a conference in Melbourne, I wanted more than just a hotel room and was soon recommended two excellent choices that are ideal for the business and leisure traveler alike. And, since I like to maintain a good balance between work and leisure no matter where I am, these were the perfect fit. My favorite of the pair, The Best Western Riverside Apartments on Flinders Street right by the river’s edge in Melbourne’s thriving heart surely did not disappoint.
The other was Fraser Place in Exploration Lane, a neat cross-CBD cab ride away, still just a stroll from just about everything the city centre has to offer. Starting here for a few days, it was the perfect place to land for more than one reason. I did not have a lot of pre-warning for my trip so when I jumped onto the brand new HotelQuickly App (only released in December 2014) I was amazed how easy to navigate it was to find something suitable literally at last minute. I logged in on my way from the airport and sure enough found exactly what I was looking for within a few clicks. Fraser Place is a chain of neatly modern compact apartment buildings that are a nudge more than a hotel room yet still at an affordable price level boasting their own kitchenettes and that extra little bit of space too. The Hotel Quickly App not only lists a broad scope of accommodation from 3 – 5 starts, but offers a cool interface which allows you to see what is on offer and pops up recommendations too. And, since I wanted to be right there in the CBD, it was easy for me to narrow down my selection. Needless to say, by the time I cabbed it half way from the airport, my neat little Fraser apartment was at the ready for me. I Love this App!
This takes me to another cool App you cannot live without if when you have just landed in a new place and just want to get settled and have your dinner of choice brought to you – EatNow.
If you have ever felt like I did on the day of my arrival; you know slightly displaced after a late night of packing (at last minute), an early rise to make the transfer and hours of travel on land and in the air, then you can relate to this well. I simply just wanted to drop my bags, get changed and relax, eat well and do a tad of emails and preparation before the next day’s ‘to do’ list took hold. Searching around for the closest or best eatery that served what I felt like could have turned into a massive undertaking which my travel weary body was not up to, so logging onto www.EatNow.com.au or better yet, downloading the easy to use app for free to the palm of my hand, let me search out oodles of eateries that not only were close by, but also delivered to my accommodation. And, bless modern technology, within a few clicks I had my smorgasbord of some of the best Indian food (and Melbourne does have its share of the best) selected, ordered and promptly delivered within the designated time. And, to take high-tech to personal service, since they had run out of one of my choices at the restaurant, the customer service from EatNow called my twice to ensure I had a suitable replacement and that I was happy with my choice. Simply Brilliant!
A couple of days into my stay I then moved to what proved to become my favorite place in Melbourne, the Best Western Riverside Apartments. Not only did it feel like coming ‘home’ as soon as I stepped into the apartment after being greeted in the most welcoming manner at the reception, but having a well laid out and decorated living room, dining area and full kitchen meant I could actually feel like I was living in Melbourne for the coming days – perfect! Once unpacked and settled in, I took a stroll over to the river enjoying all that South Bank offers, tasting diverse culinary treats from the world over that the many food courts offer plus found a few new favorite cafes, restaurants and bars to meet at with clients. Best of all, I could walk everywhere and felt right at home strolling my new little home turf, roughly from Federation Square to the Casino across both sides of the river, and soon felt at right at home here.
The apartment itself was located on the 15th floor, so was graced with amazing city views which lit up at night with a luminescent skyline; add in the intermittent bursts of fire that line the river at night and you know that you are being seduced by Melbourne’s night appeal. Fortunately, my early morning meetings kept me within curfew, despite being within a stone’s throw from bars and nightlife destinations, which sure held temptation. Plus, one night we were blessed with massive fireworks, which made the elevated abode and vantage point even the more appreciated.
Needless to say, the comfort and convenience of the Best Western Apartments ensured a pleasant and to-be-repeated stay in Melbourne’s centre, with the lack of the all too famous ‘four seasons in one day’ the only shortfall of what Melbourne had promised. Blessed with perfect sunny weather and only the odd heavy shower, my stay was both productive as for my reason of travel and pleasant as for I fell in love with Melbourne – the Bohemian city – yet again.
As for my ‘must-do’ finds and recommendations, here it goes…
- Check out Hotel Quickly App to make your accommodation booking – perfect at last minute and super easy right from your smart phone
- For compact convenience at affordable prices, Fraser Place is the go (Exploration Lane, Melbourne CBD, find it on HQ (HotelQuickly)
- Dining in without hassles, try the EatNow App – culinary convenience in the palm of your hand
- Feel at home at Best Western Riverside Apartments, in Flinders Street, feel right at home -a stroll from everything
- Melbourne’s tram restaurant – an experience in itself
- The Sky Deck, if you like city views and don’t mind heights
- Mama’s Buoi – the insider tip for the best Vietnamese food in town (Post Lane next to Myers) (see my separate review on this blog)
- Queen Victoria, South Melbourne and Prahran markets
- For the lowest air fares guaranteed, check out www.save-on-travel.com (become a member and save)
Mama’s Buoi – 4 out of 5 forks
Fraser Place – 3 out of 5 pillows
Best Western Apartments – 4 out of 5 pillows
EatNow App – 4 out of 5 clicks
Hotel Quickly App – 5 out of 5 clicks
More about Erik Bigalk – travel writer and tourism reviewer, freelance writer/photographer and treue Lebenskuenstler at heart, see www.erikbigalk.com