Hilton Melbourne South Wharf: Roomies' five-star spree

Read our writer's views on this property below

Michelle Potts bunks in with her mother to enjoy sweeping city views, stylish surrounds — and a shopping splurge.

It's a mother and daughter shop-and-stay weekend. We short-list hotels, choose a ritzy riverside high-rise that looks more boutique than its DNA suggests, then deliberate on room type. Will it be the two-bedroom city-view apartment or the corner king relaxation suite with wraparound penthouse panorama? Bunking in together, it is.

Online reservation is quick and easy. EStandby Upgrade to a high floor? Tick.

Still relatively new, the five-star 396-room Hilton Melbourne South Wharf opened in 2009. Walking into the vast spotted-gum-clad lobby, softly lit by striking glass pendant lanterns, you're drawn towards a dramatic vertical landscape of steel and copper scourers behind reception.

A big modern macrame hangs nearby - another Dani Marti commission. Decking, moorings and barnacle-encrusted bollards come to mind.

It's an impressive space. No surprise Woods Bagot and NH Architecture scored interior design excellence awards for their innovative homage to the hotel's heritage maritime location. Fast, friendly check-in. Upgrade confirmed. We roll our cabin-size suitcases up to 1902 on the top level.

Inside the spacious corner suite, floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the lounge, bedroom and over-size walk-through bathroom, framing the Yarra as it curves through the city into the sprawling metropolis and Dandenong Ranges beyond. Even the bath looks upriver. Soothing neutral tones, textural wallpapers and muted stone prove less is much more. Bespoke furniture has a classic Danish feel. A wall of toffee-coloured timber panels cleverly disguises the wet bar and kitchenette. And you notice all the Hilton hallmarks: plush cotton bedlinen, towels and bathrobes; a deep king bed and pillow menu; Lindt chocolates at turndown; and Peter Thomas Roth body products. There's no minibar clutter, either. Just hit the magic button for anything you want. We unpack, relax, then head down for drinks and canapes.

It's relatively quiet in the expansive executive lounge. A few tables of two talk business. Solo travellers indulging in free wi-fi are distracted momentarily by the spectacular sunset over the terrace. Those on low-back leather sofas catch evening news on the big screen. Hilton's contemporary designer fit-out sets quite a benchmark in the club lounge experience.

Time flies. Two LCD flat-panel TVs, two remote controls, two women too busy chatting to take advantage of the Super Rugby-free zone (content listening to Paris Lounge instead).

And then we ate After Gold Class cinema we saunter up to Spice Temple. Chic, dark and sexy, there's not a bamboo steamer-stacked trolley in sight. Velvety chicken sliders, braised lamb pot stickers, barbecue pork buns and vanilla bean egg tarts come nicely paced. It's exquisite yum cha. Prix fixe lunch at Mr Hive the following day is good, too. Think slow-cooked saltbush lamb belly on mint-flecked peas and a rich chocolate mousse bar topped by caramel-crusted peanuts and silky peanut butter ice-cream.

The deal maker Mesmerising views over Melbourne from our luxury sky-high suite, in-room espresso machine and executive lounge access.

Stepping out Keen to save at the DFO next door, we swap wedges for ballet flats and make a beeline for the basement. Three hours on, laden with bags, we're 40 shops down, 110 to go.

VISITORS' BOOK Hilton Melbourne South Wharf

Address 2 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf.

The verdict Hip high-design high-rise.

Cost Rates vary. We pay $580 a night for a king-size relaxation suite, plus $25 for an eStandby upgrade to a high floor.

Bookings Phone (03) 9027 2000; for best rates, see hilton.com.

Getting there Access South Wharf via Lorimer Street, Montague Street, Normanby Road or Wurundjeri Way.

Perfect for Work, rest and play.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Spoil yourself with an in-room massage. Explore indigenous art at Red Desert Dreamings Gallery. Wander over to the smartly restored cargo sheds for riverside dining. Try Akachochin, The Sharing House or The Boatbuilders Yard. Run along the boardwalks and footbridges linking Docklands and Southbank or hire a bike near Seafarers Bridge. Finish with a shopping marathon at DFO.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.