Monthly Archives: August 2015

Grand Hotel Melbourne, Australia

Grand Hotel Melbourne

Review of a two bedroom apartment at the Grand Hotel Melbourne, Australia

We recently became members of the Le Club AccorHotels hotel loyalty program, so we thought it was time to stay in one of their hotels to start earning points. The Grand Hotel Melbourne is part of the MGallery Collection in the Accor chain of hotels and was a perfect choice for us to stay with the kids as they offer two bedroom apartment accommodation as one of their room options.

We arrived at the hotel a couple of hours before check-in and were pleasantly surprised that our room was ready for us. Check-in takes place sitting at a desk rather than at a big lobby counter so it is a bit more personalised with a bit of chatter which is nice. Next to the check-in area is a great little sitting room or should I say Library – complete with comfy leather chairs, grand piano, gas fireplace and plenty of books that you can grab to read. It gives a real cozy and warm atmosphere to the lobby area. The whole hotel actually has a lot of old world charm as it dates back to the 1880’s and was originally used as the railway administrative buildings.

The two bedroom apartment here at the Grand Hotel Melbourne is a good size, very spacious for a family of four. There is a well equipped kitchen area where you can find cutlery, crockery, cooking pots and pan, oven, cooking stove, microwave, espresso pod machine, dishwasher and a fridge freezer (including mini bar items).

The huge living room area has comfortable sofas as well as a big dining table. There is also a good-sized desk with plenty of power points if you bring your own computer (although wi-fi is quite slow). The TV downstairs has quite a few Foxtel channels but does not have the best TV reception so some channels were quite fuzzy. A few days after our stay we received one of the MGallery post stay surveys and we mentioned about the poor TV reception problems and to the hotel’s credit, within 10 minutes the hotel sent an email apologising for this and that they would get maintenance onto it –  great service by the GM.

Upstairs are both bedrooms and the bathroom area. Loved that the stairs have an automatic light on them which is great when travelling with kids. The main bedroom has a nice big comfy bed and plenty of cupboard space so would be perfect for a long-term stay. Also like that there are plenty of spare towels kept in the cupboards too. There was a small TV in the room, but again the picture was all fuzzy and unwatchable. It didn’t affect us as we were only there for one night but it may have been annoying if we were staying for longer. The only other problem we had with the room was that the digital clock on our clock radio was not working so was always hard to gauge what time it was during the night. The second room had a double bed and also had plenty of cupboard space but no TV or clock radio in there.

The bathroom was a good size and we really enjoyed the highly aromatic Appelles amenities. There was a good sized shower (with nice big shower head), no bath but did have a washing machine and dryer in there.

If you want a meal at the Grand Hotel Melbourne there is room service available or you can dine at the RAB Restaurant and Bar situated next to the library area. We tried out dinner here and while the menu is not extensive, the food quality was excellent and pricing was reasonable. Our meals were the Pork Belly with mashed potato and must say the mashed potato here was something else, so delicious! Our other meal here was the Chicken Sandwich which was also very good. Of course we tried out a couple of our favourite cocktails and had no complaints. Have to really commend our waiter Anton who was filled with enthusiasm and our kids thought he was fantastic!

We also had breakfast here at RAB and while there is no buffet breakfast like most inner city hotels, our a la carte meals were delicious, reasonably priced and we didn’t have to wait long for them to be served.

Amenities here at the Grand Hotel Melbourne include an indoor heated swimming pool with spa and sauna. There is a gymnasium but it is quite small compared to other hotel gyms. Next to the pool area on both sides are quite large courtyards along with BBQ’s and outdoor settings. We also used the valet car parking service ($35).

The Grand Hotel Melbourne is ideally located on the corner of Flinders and Spencer Streets, making it easy walking distance to Crown Casino, the Melbourne Convention Centre, South Wharf DFO, Etihad Stadium as well as Southern Cross Station.  With a tram stop right outside, it makes for a quick tram ride to Federation Square, the MCG, Rod Laver Arena, AAMI Park as well as the Docklands area. It is also a good hotel to stay at if you intend to go on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant – (review here). The Grand Hotel Melbourne is easy to find, just look for the big tram stuck in the pavement near its entrance!

Tram near the entrance of the Grand Hotel Melbourne, Australia

Tram near the Entrance

If you love the ambience of old heritage buildings then you will definitely enjoy staying at the Grand Hotel Melbourne with all of its charm and character. We certainly enjoyed our family stay here and will not hesitate to return again soon.

For more information you can go to www.grandhotelmelbourne.com.au

Lobby at the Langham Auckland, New Zealand

Langham Auckland Hotel Review

Langham Auckland Hotel, New Zealand

We recently stayed at the Langham Auckland which was our first time staying at a hotel in the Langham chain for quite a few years. The Langham here in Auckland is quite elegant — while not ultra modern, it does have a lot of old-world charm which makes it very comfortable and cozy to stay in.

We arrived at the Langham Auckland about two hours before check-in and due to a big conference checking out at the same time, had to wait for our room to be ready. They were kind enough however to give us access to the club lounge while we waited. The club lounge is a good size and we loved the all day snacks that they provided. It was lucky that we didn’t have the kids with us with on this trip with all those potato chips, Doritos, ice creams and soft drinks on offer.

Once our room was ready we were delighted to have a bottle of lovely New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc waiting for us in there. While the room is a good size, the bathroom is on the smaller side and we are not a fan of the bath and shower in one. It makes it quite uncomfortable for tall people to take a shower. The ceilings here throughout the hotel are actually quite low, so would not recommend this hotel for basketball players! There is also a little step as you enter the bathroom which is easy to trip on.

We stayed in a club room which came with some very good privileges including;

  • Breakfast in the Club Lounge from 7.00am until 10.30am (Mon-Fri) and until 11.00am (Sat & Sun)
  • Afternoon Tea in the Club Lounge from 2.00pm-5.00pm
  • Drinks & Canapés each evening in the Club Lounge from 5.30pm – 8.00pm
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Butler Service
  • Water & Fruit delivered to room daily
  • All day snacks in the Club Lounge including soft drinks, bottled water, ice creams, potato chips, Doritos, yoghurts, coffee & tea

The club lounge breakfast included some hot dishes including scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes as well as breads, pastries, fruit and cold cuts. It was a really good breakfast selection for a club lounge.

The afternoon tea in the club lounge here at the Langham Auckland is not to be missed, it is absolutely wonderful. The scones and cakes and bagels are just divine – no need to do the high tea when you have afternoon tea here!

The Club Lounge also has Pre-Dinner drinks and Canapés available for two and a half hours each evening. There is a good choice of beers, wines and spirits to choose from – drinks are waiter service not self pour. There is both hot and cold canapés, cheese board and cold cuts available which varied on the two nights that we were there. Then there are more little sweet treats on offer for dessert. The staff here were excellent, continually topping up drinks and keeping up the supply of canapés. This really is a good club lounge and worth paying the little bit extra to enjoy.

Langham Auckland has a Chuan Day Spa which apparently is world class (we unfortunately didn’t get to try it out on this trip) a good size health club and an outdoor heated pool and spa.

Although it is situated in the downtown central business district, the Langham Auckland is walking distance to many of Auckland’s famous landmarks such as the Sky Tower and Sky City Casino. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle bus service to and from Custom Street near the waterfront and ferry terminals. We did walk down to the ferry terminals on one of the days  and it took us about 25 minutes walking down Queen Street.

We used the concierge (Jeanne was great) to book a tour to Waiheke Island (review here) as well as organising a hotel car to the airport. The driver that took us to the airport was excellent, loved that we got picked up at 4.30am when it was pretty cold and hopped into the car and the seats were all heated – heaven!

We would happily stay here at the Langham Auckland again and definitely in a club room as the lounge access made this hotel great value. For more information on the Langham Auckland go to www.langhamhotels.com

While in Auckland we also stayed at the Hilton Auckland – read review here.

Hilton Auckland Hotel, New Zealand

Hilton Auckland Hotel Review

Hilton Auckland Hotel, New Zealand

If we had to briefly describe our recent stay at the Hilton Auckland in Zealand it would be “stunning views” and “wonderful location”. Although we only had a short stay of one night, we wouldn’t hesitate to return to this hotel. It looks like and truly feels like you are aboard a cruise ship here. The location is right on the wharf next to the ferry terminal and easy walking distance to local attractions such as the Sky Tower.

We stayed here (without the kids) on a Thursday night and used the hotel pick-up service from the airport. Our driver was excellent, very informative as it was our first time to Auckland and he explained a lot to us about the city and things to do. On arrival at the hotel we were checked in efficiently at a temporary lobby as the Hilton Auckland is currently undergoing renovations at its main lobby and Bellini Bar.

As Hilton Honours Diamond members we were delighted to receive an upgrade to one of the Bow Suites. This room definitely has a “wow” factor with its amazing views. It has a huge balcony which runs around the room and you could quite easily just sit out there all day and watch all the ships, ferries and sailing boats go by. As it was winter while we were there it was much easier for us to sit in the large comfy orange chair and watch them go by.

The bathroom is huge with a separate bath and shower as well as a double sink. There is an excellent supply of all the Peter Thomas Roth amenities too. The room has a mini bar complete with a pod espresso machine. Loved that at turndown we received 4 bottles of water as well as chocolates.

Hilton Auckland comes complete with a fully equipped gymnasium and also features a heated lap pool which comes with its own window at one end which would be pretty amazing to swim in during summer.

Dining is available in the  FISH Restaurant which as the name suggests, specialises in seafood but also has beef and lamb dishes. The buffet breakfast is also at FISH and offered a good selection of both hot and cold dishes. It was nice to sit down at breakfast and enjoy the amazing views on offer.

More casual dining is available at the Bellini Bar which unfortunately was undergoing renovations while we were there, but they did have an alternate temporary bar set up in part of the Fish Restaurant where we enjoyed a few drinks and a bite to eat.

The only negative that we can think of for the Hilton Auckland is that there is no Executive Lounge here. As Diamond members we were instead given 2 beer or wine drink vouchers to use at their temporary bar.

We look forward to saying here again one day to see how the renovations turn out – for more information on the Hilton Auckland you can go to www.hilton.com/Auckland

While in Auckland we also stayed at the Langham Auckland – read review here and visited Waiheke Island – read review here

Parkroyal Melbourne Airport Hotel

Parkroyal Melbourne Airport

Hotel Review of the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport, Australia

With a recent 7.00am International flight departure out of Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, we thought it would be a great opportunity to stay at and review the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport Hotel – which is connected directly to the Melbourne Domestic and International Airports via a covered link-bridge. We stayed for just the one night without the kids – arriving at around 8.00pm on a Wednesday night and departing at 5.00am for our flight check-in on the Thursday.

As this was such a short stay we just booked a standard room and found it quite adequate. It was a good size with a comfy bed and nice bathroom. Our view was of the Airport carpark so wasn’t very interesting, but there are rooms available at an extra cost that look out at the runway side for those that enjoy a bit of plane spotting.

The main restaurant here is Airo Restaurant – open for breakfast (daily), lunch (weekdays) and Dinner (daily).  If you prefer to just grab a light bar snack and unwind with a quiet cocktail, there is also the Cafe Airo and the adjoining Bar Airo. There is of course 24hr in-room dining available as well. After we arrived at the hotel we went down and had a quick drink and bite to eat at the Cafe Airo and had no complaints.

The Parkroyal Melbourne Airport has an indoor heated lap pool, spa and sauna. There is also a gymnasium facing the airport so you can watch the planes coming in to land and taking off while on the treadmill.

The convenience of this hotel makes it a perfect place to stay for weary travellers arriving late from a long haul flight or for those about to embark on an early morning adventure. There is always someone in attendance for check-out, so no matter what time your flight is – it makes for a nice, easy and quick exit from the hotel. Love that they have the airport arrival/departure boards in the lobby as well to check flight status updates. Now we have tried out the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport Hotel and realised how much easier it can make a travel experience, we will be returning again soon!

For more information go to www.parkroyalhotels.com