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Back alley action in Melbourne


Ovolo, Laneways is your new base in Australia's capital of cool.


Words: Damien Woolnough


22th May 2018

Go hunting in Melbourne's laneways and you’re bound to find inspiring street art, tourists with selfie sticks, whippet-thin baristas from central casting and if you’re very lucky a hidden hotel.

Ovolo Laneways has been at the top of Little Bourke Street, ambling distance from the ornate Princess Theatre and the noodle miasma of Chinatown, for five years but remains a subtle presence on the streetscape. Step inside and you could be forgiven for thinking that you’d stumbled into a narrow Google outpost, complete with mini-bar and tubs of lollies for a check-in sugar boost.

The vibe is relaxed, quirky, professional and an alternative to the five-star gloss of the Park Hyatt and the Westin. The team here do their best putting the fun in functional, without blowing your budget.

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The intimate hotel has 42 rooms, including 27 suites, so after an all-smiles check-in I stumbled into the black hallway (this is Melbourne after all) of the fifth floor and opened the blue door of the Terrace Suite.

This is where the Tardis-effect kicks in, with the Terrace Suite the size of a spacious two-bedroom apartment, with a generous living space, two bathrooms, fridge the size of a Sydney studio apartment and outdoor terrace.

The style is functional with eye-catching elements, sofas to stretch out on and pop-of-colour cushions. It would be the perfect setting for a contemporary, down under revival of Friends – you’re just waiting for Joey and Chandler (now Trent and Benji) to burst in at any minute.

The advantage is that unlike Friends there are zero frustrations, with free Wi-Fi, DVD and CD players, tableware (perfect for upgrading your UberEats) and Biology bath products.

It would be the perfect setting for a contemporary, down under revival of Friends

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The hotel is also peppered with artworks selected by curator Lisa Fehily. Think of them as a taster for an aesthetic excursion through the laneways for a dose of glorious graffiti. Step outside, genuflect at Amphlett Lane (named in memory of Chrissy 'I Touch Myself' Amphlett of Divinyls fame) and head to AC/DC Lane or the bijoux Caledonian Lane for the hippest Instagram backdrop imaginable this side of Berlin.

Your own kitchen (and free breakfast) shouldn’t stop you from stumbling into some of the city's best restaurants. Old school espresso institution Pellegrini's (66 Bourke St) is a few short steps away for a caffeine hit with heritage (The restaurant proudly declares that it scored Melbourne's first espresso coffee machine in 1954).

Make a booking at Lupino (41 Little Collins Street) for a long lunch, Italian-style and plan on a long night at Longsong (44 Little Bourke Street).

Chef David Moyle (who put Franklin in Hobart on the foodie map) delivers snacks with enough punch to match the South East Asian décor in warehouse-style space.

The hippest Instagram backdrop imaginable this side of Berlin

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Return home and either enjoy a free light breakfast in the communal rooftop eating area or sleep in until the smell of macchiatos makes you return to the laneway life.

Verdict: So Melbourne it hurts. Location, convenience and with cool comforts.

Perfect for: A weekend away to escape pre-wedding stress.

Ovolo Laneways, 19 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, Australia. 

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