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The Victoria Hotel's lobby ... a grand past is reflected in the huge chandelier and wide staircase to Vic's Bar.

THE SUITE LIFE: 01 FEB 2016

John Rozentals

Melbourne's Victoria Hotel ... a splendid location right in the heart of the city

If you’re travelling to Melbourne and looking for some cheap-and-cheerful accommodation that combines a real sense of history with absolute city-centre location and fantastic access to a range of dining opportunities, you could do much worse than basing yourself at the 19th-century Victoria Hotel.

The property, in Little Collins Street, just a very short walk from Chinatown in Little Bourke Street and Australia’s major fashion precinct in Collins Street, has been totally renovated but retains the charm it had in 1880, when it was established by a former Premier, James Munro, as the Victoria Coffee Palace, a teetotaller alternative for those trying to avoid the bawdiness that Melbourne had established during the gold rushes.

The Vic remained ‘dry’ until 1967 and even experienced a stint in the stable of corporate high flyer Christopher Skase before being taken over by the Schartz family, who upgraded the rooms and added plenty of modern touches such as a rooftop pool, a fitness centre and wifi.

The all-day Alice’s Thai Restaurant is the place for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Vic’s Bar and Pool Room serves finger food between 5.30 and 9.30pm, but there are so many choices in this part of Melbourne that most guests will choose to dine out.

As already mentioned, there’s an absolute plethora of restaurants, mainly Asian-style and mostly amenable to BYO, close by in Little Bourke Street, and you can eat heartily in many of them for less than $15 per head. Don’t worry about booking; just wander along the street and choose a place and menu that take your fancy.

Carlton’s ever-popular Lygon Street can definitely be walked to but is a touch easier to reach by the tram network which connects regularly to the city (Routes 1 and 8).

Italian is the go here, but you’ll find plenty of other food styles as well, and the competition keeps prices very reasonable, though it’s a tad more expensive than Chinatown. Also expect to find plenty of fine clothes stores.

Stay on the tram a bit longer and you’ll get to Brunswick, home of some very trendy but still reasonably priced restaurants, while in the opposite direct there are the renowned laneway cafés near Federation Square.

 There are certainly plenty of choices in what this scribe reckons is Australia’s premier city for food and fashion — and let’s not even start talking sport and the arts.

IF YOU GO

The Victoria Hotel (an Ibis Styles hotel)

215 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

Phone 03 9669 0000

Web: www.victoriahotel.com.au

Pay from $120 per night for a Heritage Queen or Twin  room, or if you can book 20 days or more in advance you can get the same for $98 per night.

The Victoria Hotel ... comfortable inner-Melbourne digs from as little as $98 per night.