When it comes to the best place to stay in Melbourne there are so many choices! Melbourne is an incredibly vibrant and exciting city. I should know as I was born there and grew up there! It does not have the big glitzy attractions of Sydney.
Instead, Melbourne is more European. It is more about wandering down laneways and exploring neighbourhoods with great food, shopping, art etc.
When it comes to the best place to stay in Melbourne, of course, the answer depends on what type of things you like to do and experience. So I’m going to tell you about the five best areas to stay in Melbourne and what they’re like so you can make a judgment call.
Then, if they all sound good to you (they are all pretty good or they wouldn’t make the list :-)) I’m going to tell you the neighborhood I always recommend to friends!
- 1. Best Place to Stay in Melbourne – St Kilda
- Who should stay in St Kilda
- Things to do in St Kilda
- The Esplanade
- See some Live Entertainment
- Luna Park
- Stroll, drink flat whites and snack along St Kilda’s two most iconic streets
- St Kilda Sea Baths
- St Kilda Esplanade Market
- Where to Eat in St Kilda
- The Best Brunch & Coffee in St Kilda
- St Kilda Boutique Hotels
- 2. Melbourne Best Place to stay – Prahran & Windsor
- Things to do in Prahran and Windsor
- Where to Eat in Prahran and Windsor
- 3. Melbourne where to stay – Carlton & Fitzroy
- Things to do in Fitzroy and Carlton
- Hit the Streets
- Where to Eat in Carlton and Fitzroy
- Where to get coffee in Carlton and Fitzroy
- Fitzroy and Carlton Boutique Hotels
- 4. Places to stay in Melbourne Australia – South Melbourne
- Who should stay in South Melbourne
- Things to do in South Melbourne
- Where to Eat in South Melbourne
- Coffee in South Melbourne
- South Melbourne Boutique Hotels
- 5. Melbourne Areas to Stay in – the Central Business District (CBD)
- Who should stay in the Melbourne CBD
- Things to do in the Melbourne CBD
- Explore the Laneways
- Federation Square
- Flinders Street Station
- Queen Victoria Market
- Have afternoon tea in the Block Arcade
- Go Shopping
- Restaurants in the Melbourne CBD
- Where can I get a great coffee?
- Places to Stay in the Melbourne CBD
- Getting to Melbourne and Getting Around
- Who Paid for what in this Post on Where to stay in Melbourne?
1. Best Place to Stay in Melbourne – St Kilda
St Kilda is an iconic Melbourne inner-city suburb. You will most likely have seen images of the very well known St Kilda beach and St Kilda Pier in magazines or newspapers.
You can swim at St Kilda beach but to be honest it isn’t the nicest. Melbourne has lots of great things but inner-city beaches aren’t one of them!
Who should stay in St Kilda
St Kilda is a seaside suburb with a tinge of grunge. It has loads of restaurants and bars so it is a great place to stay if you want to experience some Melbourne nightlife. It is also home to one of the best brunch places Melbourne has on offer!
It does have a bit of an edge so if you have small people with you it probably isn’t the best choice. St Kilda has fantastic tram links into the Melbourne CBD and heading up to South Yarra so it’s easy to get around.
Things to do in St Kilda
Take a stroll along St Kilda beach which is also home to some amazing sunsets. Don’t forget to walk to the end of the pier to get the view and to get shots back.
You can then head east towards Brighton or west towards the city once you hit the boardwalk.
I love the walk towards the Melbourne CBD – this takes you through Middle Park, Albert Park, and Port Melbourne. Once you hit Port Melbourne you can check out the iconic Station Pier – the point of entry for so many new Australians. You can also hop on a tram here and be in the heart of the city within ten minutes.
See some Live Entertainment
St Kilda is home to two of Melbourne’s most iconic locations for live entertainment: The Esplanade and The Palais Theatre. The Palais Theatre is a great place to catch live music, opera or comedy.
The Esplanade or The Espy is possibly Melbourne’s most iconic pub. The Palais is a proper theatre. The Espy is a sort of giant pub plus.
The Esplanade is home to loads of live music and comedy, It is also a classic pub. They also have a great restaurant – the imaginatively named Espy Kitchen. This is very much a spot beloved by locals so tourists will be few and far between here.
Another famous Melbourne image is the gaping mouth of the entry to Luna Park. Pop in for some retro shots and perhaps hop on a rollercoaster. From here you are only a short stroll to atmospheric Acland Street.
Stroll, drink flat whites and snack along St Kilda’s two most iconic streets
St Kilda’s most well-known streets are Acland Street and Fitzroy Street. Acland Street is filled with cafes, restaurants and cute shops. But it is most famous for its cakes so this is the thing to do – my favourite is the Europa Cake Shop.
If you walk up Acland Street, away from the beach you will hit Fitzroy Street. For a good coffee check out the Banff cafe. If you’re hungry Cafe di Stasio is virtually a Melbourne institution and well known for its excellent Italian food.
St Kilda Sea Baths
The St Kilda Sea Baths sit on St Kilda beach. It has a seawater pool, gym, bars, cafes, stand up paddleboarding, pop-ups and generally loads going on!
St Kilda Esplanade Market
If you’re in Melbourne on a Sunday head to the St Kilda Esplanade Market. This market has been running every Sunday since 1970 and opens at 10am.
The market features local arts and crafts galore and a great atmosphere.
Where to Eat in St Kilda
One of the best things to do in Melbourne is of course eat! There are so many good food options in St Kilda. So many in fact that I can give you a recommendation based on your cuisine mood!
If it is Mexican you are after head to Newmarket. This is modern Mexican – no sloppy sour cream and heavy on the guac. This is fresh and light and flavoursome.
For seafood head to Claypots on Fitzroy street for a great value meal. There is another Claypots at the South Melbourne market. This is a more casual set up with a menu that reflects this. But the calamari is to die for!
For fantastic Asian fusion, head to Ichi Ni on the esplanade. I do love a funky Asian restaurant and Ichi Ni hits the spot. The aubergine with miso paste was especially good.
And you must try the deep-fried prawns with mayonnaise – the Ebi mayo. Like most places in St Kilda, they have a great outdoor area so that you can check out the view weather permitting.
For amazing cheese head to Milk the Cow. Milk the Cow St Kilda is one of my favourite spots. They have amazing cheese platters and match some delicious wines.
For a local classic head to the Dog’s Bar. The Dog’s Bar has been a St Kilda institution since 1989 and is a wine bar and restaurant beloved by locals.
The Best Brunch & Coffee in St Kilda
Have breakfast or brunch at Fitzrovia. Or really anything here – they are open for dinner some evenings midweek. The food at Fitzrovia St Kilda is FANTASTIC!
I have tried most of the breakfast/brunch menu and there are no bad choices. However, the classic bacon and eggs are my absolute favourite – with their tomato relish.
The quality of the ingredients at Fitzrovia is out of this world. The staff is fantastically friendly and it has a lovely atmosphere. They also do outstandingly good muffins and more amazing sweet things.
And then there is the coffee at Fitzrovia. Even decaf is brilliant here. I have been to Fitzrovia at least 10 times and it has never disappointed!
St Kilda Boutique Hotels
St Kilda is home to two fantastic boutique hotels – Tolarno’s and the Prince. Tolarno’s has been around for years and has a great location on Fitzroy Street with several tram options right on its doorstep.
It is a modern boutique hotel with an artistic feel – it was once owned by Melbourne artist Mirka Mora. Many of her works are still hung around the hotel – as well as those of up and coming Melbournian artists which give the hotel a great feel. Tolarno’s St Kilda is a funky and unusual setup.
I have stayed in both the standard rooms which are very nice as well as the suites. My favourite room is 332. The rooms at Tolarno’s are comfortable and stylish and the suites have balconies fronting onto Fitzroy Street.
The beds at Tolarno’s are very comfortable with high-quality sheets and there are good grade toiletries. The suites have a little kitchen and a table.
There is a Woolworths just up the road from Tolanro’s so you can eat in if you desire quite easily. The hotel has its own restaurant called the Tolarno Eating House.
The Prince has been one of Melbourne’s hippest hotels for many years. It has an original art deco exterior and the interior design is pared-back chic with polished floorboards. Have a meal in the lovely Prince Dining Room.
2. Melbourne Best Place to stay – Prahran & Windsor
Prahran and Windsor are both slightly edgier (but still very safe) neighborhoods in Melbourne – and only a short drive north of St Kilda. These two neighborhoods have loads of fantastic shopping and great restaurants and cafes.
Who Should Stay in Prahran and Windsor
Those who are looking to live like a local. These are neighborhoods to wander and experience and don’t have any real tourist attractions. But they are where people in Melbourne live and they are very much where people in Melbourne come to eat out!
Things to do in Prahran and Windsor
Visit Prahran Market
I love a market and Melbourne has quite a few excellent options. Prahran Market is a huge favourite with the locals – my mum was a regular here!
Much of Prahran Market is food that is designed to be taken home and eaten so not so fantastic when you’re staying in a boutique hotel. However, there are loads of little stalls where you can grab some lunch. Prahran Market also has lots of tours and pop-ups.
They have mobile mini-farms from different parts of the state of Victoria, different styles of food tours, cooking classes, and all sorts. Check out their website and see what’s on while you’re in town.
Explore Greville Street
Greville Street is a very cute pedestrianized street tucked away in Prahran and another local favourite. It has a nice range of unique local shops ranging from locally grown favourite Aesop emitting great smells to prints from local artists at Signed and Numbered to vinyl at Greville Records and much more.
One of my favourite things on Greville street is how much they have turned a street into a Melbourne experience. The pedestrianised street has been painted blue and pink. And there is outdoor seating along the whole street.
The majority of the street is filled with super cute “spools” – I think that is what you call them! They are chairs and tables that look like they should have spun threads on them.
Where to Eat in Prahran and Windsor
Little Windsor is home to some of the best Asian fusion restaurants in Melbourne. It can be a little gritty during the day but this area really comes to life at night. Hawker Hall is well known for its outstanding Malaysian.
For something different enjoy some fantastic Russian flavours at the wonderfully named Borsch, Vodka and Tears.
Please note that there are LOADS of other great restaurants in Prahran and Windsor – as holds true with every area in this post. But I can’t list them all! So I am letting you know the best ones that I have either personally eaten at or have been highly recommended to me by friends in Melbourne.
Personally, I don’t find it that helpful when I get a list of 15 restaurants in an area. I prefer it when that choice has been curated down to 3 or 4 options so that’s what I am offering in this post. I hope that’s okay!
Coffee in Prahran and Windsor
My favourite place in Prahran for coffee is on St Edmonds street – a café actually called St Edmond’s. They do fabulous sandwiches/toasties and a mean salad. All with a very cute outdoor seating area.
Boutique Hotels in Prahran and Windsor
The Cullen is named after Australian artist Adam Cullen and is part of the fantastic Australian boutique hotel brand the Art Series. Even if you’re not staying here I am a big fan of the HuTong Dumpling bar at the hotel!
The rooms have some fantastic views of Melbourne and have loads of glass and modern design.
3. Melbourne where to stay – Carlton & Fitzroy
Fitzroy is one of Melbourne’s most eclectic and interesting suburbs and it sits next to Carlton, definitely one of Melbourne’s loveliest inner-city suburbs.
Who should stay in Fitzroy and Carlton
Fitzroy and Carlton are the slightly glitzier, still gritty but not as much cousins of Prahran and Windsor. This is for those who are looking for quirk and atmosphere but in a slightly more luxurious way!
Things to do in Fitzroy and Carlton
Hit the Streets
These two suburbs have some of the best streets for wandering in Melbourne. Start out with great little Gertrude Street which runs between Smith Street and Brunswick Street.
It has loads of cute and unique shops and cafes. I particularly liked Made in Melbourne as all the clothes and jewelry is of course made in Melbourne and quite stylish.
There are also funky furniture shops and even a milliner! Although this Milliner seems to sell caps for blokes rather than race day headgear. It is quite hard to choose where to eat along here as there are so many good options.
There are five super cute busy cafes sitting almost next to each other. I went to Arcadia. I enjoyed a sandwich featuring roast chicken stuffed with lemon and thyme on dark rye and a healthy green smoothie.
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Dessert can be at The Donut Shop which is 130 Gertrude Street. They have taken the art of a filled donut to a whole new level. Take a right once you hit Brunswick Street.
On the corner is the famous Melbourne pub/restaurant the Provincial which has gotten away with its dilapidated exterior for years There are quite a few outlet stores along this stroll. My favourite is Melbourne brand Life with Bird which is at 264 Brunswick Street.
Fantastic local designers are one of the best Melbourne hidden gems!
Rose Street Artist’s Market
If you’re in Fitzroy on a Saturday or a Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm do visit Rose Street Artist’s Market. The work of up to 120 local artists will be on display – from furniture to fashion to jewelry – and it’s all handmade!
Lygon Street is one of the most well-known streets in Melbourne and has traditionally been the home of the Italian community in Melbourne. The reason that people from Melbourne are such coffee snobs is that the southern Italians who migrated to Australia after World War 2 all brought their espresso machines.
Melbournians have been drinking good coffee for a very long time!
Lygon Street is still a fantastic street for shopping and of course food. And it is perfect for strolling. Don’t miss the amazing, massive Brunetti’s store and do make sure you plan your caffeine intake for a coffee in here!
And if you’re looking for something different in the evening the Nova cinema is another Melbourne landmark and a lovely place to see a film.
The Carlton Gardens are a World Heritage Listed site situated between Carlton and the Melbourne CBD. They are home to an IMAX cinema, the Melbourne Museum and the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. There are also miniature lakes, formal flower beds, a fountain and lots of paths to walk.
Where to Eat in Carlton and Fitzroy
Outside of Melbourne’s CBD, this is the most amazing restaurant rich area in Melbourne. I am going to try to cut this down to a manageable list of recommendations but honestly when you’re walking along Brunswick Street and Lygon Street see what grabs you – and there is always somewhere new!
For a more special meal head to the lovely Carlton Wine Room. In addition to an amazing wine list with lots of unusual wines, the food is outstanding! The duck and pork croquettes are outstanding as is their nearly famous Stracciatella and mushrooms with potato focaccia.
For a fantastic classic Melbourne pub – that I used to go to regularly! – with a new look dining room check out the wonderful Standard Hotel. For a posher gastropub option check out the Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel.
Where to get coffee in Carlton and Fitzroy
Pop into Babka for some bread to take home. Babka is another institution – I used to come here for breakfast when I was at University so it’s been around for a while!
Fitzroy and Carlton Boutique Hotels
Zagame’s House is a super stylish home away from home run by a local Melbourne couple. They offer five different types of rooms all beautifully designed and heavy on comfort. Enjoy a flat white at the 1851 Coffee + Kitchen or hit up the Lord Lygon Wine Bar for wine and cheese.
4. Places to stay in Melbourne Australia – South Melbourne
South Melbourne is one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs and it features wide leafy streets and a relaxed pace. It is home to many heritage Victoria style buildings and lots of fantastic little restaurants and bars – and best of all the amazing South Melbourne market! Clarendon Street is its centre.
Who should stay in South Melbourne
South Melbourne is the lowest key option on this list of the best places to stay in Melbourne. It is an easy-going, quiet neighborhood next to the CBD. If you’re looking for a relaxed, take your time, live like a local (this is a highly sought after area by locals) experience in Melbourne South Melbourne is for you!
Things to do in South Melbourne
South Melbourne Market
South Melbourne Market is one of my favourite places in Melbourne! I used to live in the next suburb, Port Melbourne, and I would visit South Melbourne market every Saturday for fruit, vegetables, and meat. It was always home to outstanding food.
Today, it is a thriving mini-city almost with loads of shops of every type, some fantastic restaurants, and a wonderful bustling atmosphere. I love Claypots for a meal at South Melbourne Market and the market has been famous for its dim sims for many years (bring breath mints)!
Albert Park Lake
The suburb next to South Melbourne is lovely Albert Park. Albert Park does have a beach but Melburnians are much more fond of its beautiful lake. Albert Park Lake is a very popular spot for runners, cyclists, and walkers.
The Point is a fantastic restaurant with some great views that sits on the lake. Albert Park Lake is also where the Grand Prix is held in Melbourne each year. And nearby Coventry Street is super cute with loads of cafes and cute stores.
Where to Eat in South Melbourne
South Melbourne market on its own contains loads of fantastic places to eat. The Kettle Black is a very popular local cafe. For a quick meal, I love Misschu for its Vietnamese fusion menu. For something more formal check out the inventive Lume.
Coffee in South Melbourne
South Melbourne is home to my number one favourite coffee bar in Melbourne – and where I go every time I visit and buy beans to bring back to London. The fantastic St Ali makes amazing coffee and supplies many of the best restaurants in town. And it is a super cool cafe.
South Melbourne Boutique Hotels
Coppersmith Hotel is a gorgeous boutique hotel that is on busy Clarendon street. It has a tram stop literally out the front which is super convenient. The rooms at the Coppersmith Hotel are a minimalist Scandinavian style design with some warm touches. Coppersmiths also has a great pub and restaurant.
5. Melbourne Areas to Stay in – the Central Business District (CBD)
The centre of Melbourne is referred to as the CBD or the Central Business District. This is the bustling, buzzing centre of London, home to its businesses but also its lovely laneways, endless great restaurants and cafes and some great shopping.
Who should stay in the Melbourne CBD
At the beginning of this post, I wrote that if you couldn’t decide which of the Melbourne neighborhoods to stay in based on the above I would tell you where I recommend to friends who ask me where to stay in Melbourne Australia?
Well, I always recommend the best area to stay Melbourne has on offer is the CBD.
This is the heart of Melbourne and has a great atmosphere – a bit like staying in the heart of an Italian city. So if you like staying at the heart of a city and being able to walk to amazing restaurants, tourist sites and great shopping then the CBD is the area for you! And it is particularly good if you are figuring out where to stay your first time in Melbourne.
Things to do in the Melbourne CBD
Explore the Laneways
Melbourne’s laneways and South Melbourne market are my two favourite things to do in Melbourne. Melbourne is famous for its street art, the home of which is in the CBD area in a series of laneways.
These laneways are Hosier Lane, Centre Place, AC/DC Lane, Caledonian Lane, Croft Alley, Duckboard Place, and Rankins Lane.
There is street art all over Melbourne but these are some of the key ones if you’re looking for Melbourne Street Art.
But the laneways of Melbourne offer more than just street art. They are also home to some fantastic restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping. Degraves Street is one of my favourite. This is a tiny pedestrianized street that is packed with tables and cafes.
Federation Square is a plaza of sorts across the road from Flinders Street Station. It is quite well known for its unique and stunning modern architecture.
It is also home to large public spaces where there are many events, pop-ups and general relaxing. Federation Square has some excellent restaurants, quirky shops, design studios, art galleries and really just a lot of cool and interesting stuff to explore!
Flinders Street Station
If Melbourne had an exact centre in the hearts of its residents it would be Flinders Street Station. This station serves metropolitan Melbourne – if you want to take a train outside of Melbourne you’ll need to head down the road to Spencer Street.
But it is its unique architecture and particularly its famous clocks that make it the centre of Melbourne.
Meeting under the clocks at Flinders Street has been a Melbourne institution since this picturesque building was constructed. Taking a photo under the clocks at Flinders Street is a must when in Melbourne!
Queen Victoria Market
You may have noticed that I love markets! Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere and has been operating since 1878 (that’s a really, really long time in Australia!).
The market has always been known for outstanding produce and for its hot jam donuts when I was a kid – and I am delighted to say that there are still hot jam donut vans at Queen Vic Market and they taste just as good!
Queen Victoria Market is much bigger than the South Melbourne market and if you’re looking for clothes and broader goods this is the place to come. As this is Melbourne, of course, the food is also excellent!
The market runs food and education tours regularly. Best of all in Melbourne summer it runs a night market which is full of fantastic things to eat and live entertainment.
Have afternoon tea in the Block Arcade
The Block Arcade is a beautiful art deco style arcade in the centre of Melbourne. It is home to some lovely shops – Haigh’s chocolates are a local favourite – and the gorgeous, Instagram friendly Hopetoun tea rooms.
I used to come to the Hopetoun tea rooms with my mum when I was a little girl. It is a Melbourne classic and still very popular – due to its amazing cakes!
Melbourne is renowned for having the best shopping in Australia. Head to Little Collins Street, particularly the area between Swanston and Elizabeth streets, and investigate local brands like Scanlon and Theodore and wonderful Aesop.
Myer and David Jones are Australia’s two primary department stores and they stock lots of local brands.
Mecca is the Space NK of Australia and it stocks the top local beauty brands like Dr Roebucks and Frank as well as its own excellent brand.
If you’re keen to explore Australian clothing designers head to the second floor of the fantastic and glamourous Emporium Melbourne shopping centre. This floor stocks just Australia designers such as Zimmerman, Saba, Alannah Hill, Camilla and Marc and many more.
Restaurants in the Melbourne CBD
I am not sure that if there is anywhere in the world that has as many outstanding restaurants in one area as the Melbourne CBD – and best of all they are generally excellent value!
My favourite website for keeping up to date with all things food and coffee in Australia is Broadsheet so check out their extensive selection of great restaurants in the Melbourne CBD. But here are a few to kick you off.
For fantastic modern Japanese head to Coda and try out their outstanding Moreton bay bugs (better than lobster) done in tempura, their amazing yellowfin tuna, and their famous crispy tapioca and prawn betel leaf.
A big contender for the best Asian fusion in town is the amazing Chin Chin.
Supernormal is modern Australian dining at its best. For classic Melbourne Italian dining don’t miss local icon Il Solito Posto. For groovy Thai food head to Magic Mountain Saloon. And for fantastic Mexican check out Mamasita.
Where can I get a great coffee?
There are SO many places to get great coffee in the Melbourne CBD. Indeed, it would be hard to stay in business as a cafe in the Melbourne CBD if you didn’t have great coffee. Look out for those cafes that use Milk Lab, this UHT milk is the milk of choice for Melbourne’s top barristers.
But I will, of course, give you a couple of recommendations! First up is the fantastic Axil Coffee roasters.
Second is a more local and special place – because a very old friend of mine runs it! Mario and I used to be waiters at the same restaurant when we were at University. He has always been a huge foodie and a man that knows his coffee.
He has a fantastic little cafe called Sbriga in the CBD that also does great food and a fab Aperol spritz after 5 pm! When you go to Sbriga, tell Mario The Boutique Adventurer sent him and that I said hi!
Places to Stay in the Melbourne CBD
The Adelphi was Melbourne’s first boutique hotel before boutique hotels were even a thing! I remember coming to the bar here in the mid-1990s and being blown away by the first infinity pool I had ever seen!
The Adelphi has kept up with the times and it still an exceptionally stylish place to sleep. The rooftop pool is still there and they have a great restaurant called Om Nom. When it comes to the best place to stay in Melbourne Australia the Adelphia is a contender for the title!
If you want to stay right in the heart of the centre of Melbourne you can’t do better than QT Melbourne. QT has a few boutique hotels in Australia and they are known for great style and fantastic bars and restaurants.
They are so good that the locals go! The design aesthetic is minimally funky with lots of concrete and street art. Best of all is the cool rooftop bar!
Ovolo Laneways are sleek, modern and inspired by Melbourne’s famous laneways and their street art. The premium rooms come with everything from punching bags to outdoor jacuzzis with a view.
There is no restaurant at Ovolo Laneways but you are located in the heart of one of the world’s greatest food cities so sometimes it can be nice to be forced to try out Melbourne’s famous brunch scene!
For a very different style of sleep checkout the Notel. The Notel is six luxury airstream trailers that sit on top of a carpark on Flinders Lane. Every mod con you can imagine is available the design is very chic and modern.
Getting to Melbourne and Getting Around
Once in Melbourne, the best way to get around is to hire a car. Melbourne has trains, trams and buses. The city centre or CBD has a free tram travel area. For payment, you will need to get a Myki card.
Myki has an Explorer Pack designed for tourists.
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Who Paid for what in this Post on Where to stay in Melbourne?
As I was born in Melbourne, lived there for 27 years and return regularly there weren’t any extra costs in putting together this post on places to stay Melbourne has on offer!
However, this post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. Just wanted to make sure that you knew.
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