CHECK IN: CROWN METROPOL MELB

The modern jewel in the crown complex

★★★★
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9292 6211
#  http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au
$ Rooms start from $220 a night.
 Modern rooms, great beds and bathrooms
 Big hotel can sometimes mean service dips

I remember the first time I walked into the room I was checking into at the Crown Metropol – it went something like this:

Wow, the carpet is orange.

Oh hey this bathroom’s cool.

Check out the view!

Wait, check out that bed.  

That was in 2010, the same year the Crown Metropol opened its doors. I was lucky enough to stay at the hotel barely a month after it had been opened to the public. Since then I’ve stayed at that hotel at least 10 times – for both work and play – and each time the experience has been a good one. The Metropol Melbourne gets a lot of things right in the place that matters the most – your room. What I love about the hotel is that the rooms, now 5 years old, have always looked to me as if they were just done. The shock of rusty orange carpet, the clean black and marble lines of the bathroom with sliding shoji-style screens, grey marble, danish-inspired desk furniture – it just looks effortlessly cool and oh-so-Melbourne.

When I check in here this time, it’s for my 30th birthday weekend – something I wanted to keep low key but also be a bit special too. I arrive to find out though that there was a mistake in my group booking and a room had been accidentally cancelled. After what felt like an eternity of furious typing and nervous “I just have to talk to the manager” moments, the attendant comes back to me and confirms she’s not only found that cancelled room, but that we’ll all have champagne (okay, sparkling wine) and treats waiting for us in our rooms. Fun.

The in-room toiletries, replenished daily, are Crown Metropol branded and come in cute retro-style bottles, and each room features all the things you’d expect from a good hotel, except slippers are ditched for a swanky pair of black fabric thongs. The rooms are comfortable, not necessarily all that big, but not cramped-feeling either, and offer the perfect balance of moodiness that can make you want to stay in that very comfortable bed all day.

The service is the only gripe I have ever had with the Metropol – it’s not strange to see a massive line waiting for two or three usually disinterested looking staff to check you in – especially on a weekend. With over 650 rooms I get it, it can be a challenge when a large group arrives to check in, but they have paid for the privilege so they shouldn’t feel like they’re inconveniencing you. I feel it can sometimes lack the warmth and friendly experience that makes you want to come back to a great hotel. The doormen on the other hand are exceptionally quick, always friendly and dapper in their coats, to grab your bags or usher you into a car.

Mr Hive at the MetropolScreen Shot 2015-08-02 at 10.54.57 am

The food at Crown Metropol is also modern – with room service provided by the hotel’s on-location swanky restaurant Mr. Hive Kitchen and Bar which replaced the initial hotel offering of Maze Bar and Grill by foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsay which didn’t hit its stride. But if Mr Hive doesn’t tickle your fancy it’s only a short walk, through a mall naturally, to get to strip of world-class restaurants that the Crown Complex is famous for, from Nobu to Neil Perry, Guillaume to Blumenthal. Yum.

I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in my second-home Melbourne but the Metropol still remains a fave to me, it’s usually my first request for work bookings (The Art Series Hotel – The Olsen is my second choice) but I’m always open to try new things, so who knows if it’ll always remain my fave?

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