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Jane Reddy checks out one of Melbourne's latest hotel reincarnations.
Everyone has their secrets. So it should come as no surprise that Melbourne has hers. I stumbled on one of the city's finest recently in the form of the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto.
The 1891 building, formerly Le Meridien, has been transformed after an 18-month, $60 million makeover. Opened in December, there are now 253 shiny guest rooms and a complement of attentive staff behind the heritage-listed 19th-century gothic facade.
On checking in - would I like my small bag carried to my room? Not necessary but thanks for asking; and a two-minute turnaround (yes, I time it) after a request for a second bathrobe and hot chocolate sachets.
Many of the rooms look inwards to the nine-storey central atrium, which includes the Alluvial Restaurant, Bluestone Bar and Market Lane Bar, which has more than 100 martinis on the menu.
From the balcony of our room, a king deluxe, I watch the comings and goings of hotel life; far more interesting than a car park or brick wall.
Our room is about 36 square metres in size. In celebrity measurement, it would be a tight fit for the Brangelina clan but probably enough for the TomKat family. There's even a chaise lounge for poor old Tom to bounce on. And for the two of us it's just right. The cream leather bedhead gives way to a king-size bed and pillows, crisp linen and a just-so throw - all signs that I am far from home.
Original photographs of the city hang above a desk that extends from the wall in a graceful arc. There is a comfortable work chair and two telephones, including one with conference-call facilities. There is also a business centre and boardrooms within the hotel.
Set on either side of the widescreen television are the automated drapes, which I am given instruction on at check-in. Perhaps guests have seen too much of each other in the past.
There's also cable television, a DVD-CD player and a stocked bar fridge.
The all-white bathroom has a generous selection of Elemis products but no bath. Instead there is a double shower with two showerheads.
The Rialto Towers observation deck is next door but I'm more than happy to take in the big view of the financial district while paddling in the indoor 12-metre pool.
Although tempted by the peri-peri-crusted barramundi and key lime pie, we head to Little Bourke Street for a much-anticipated meal at Longrain.
The food, especially the salt and pepper squid, is delicious, our waiter surly and we're not inclined to linger for dessert.
We take a restorative walk back to our Collins Street sanctuary, past busy Gingerboy on Crossley Street where gorgeous young things peruse the menu outside, then Pellegrini's on Bourke Street where silver-haired fellows are gathering around the coffee machine.
On the Princes Bridge a plump, orange moon rises over the Yarra and we can't help but stop to gawk with the tourists. The flames of Crown Casino are no match for Mother Nature tonight.
Back at the Bluestone Bar, we sink into its couches, surrounded by giant wire wine racks, for a piece of that pie. It's good to be home.
For those who are far from home the hotel has tailor-made shopping tours and trips to Yarra Valley wineries.
On check-out the next morning a concierge gives me a peek at one of the three Iconic suites. At 123 square metres, this is where you will find a bath, a separate lounge area, king-size bed with king-size bedroom and views onto Collins Street.
The perfect size for Brad, Angelina and offspring should they ever make it to this lovely city and hotel.
Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto
Address 495 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Bookings 1800 899 960 or see ichotelsgroup.com.
Summary A stylish hotel with slick but warm service. The facilities and location make it the ideal place for business or leisure. A short tram ride to Bourke Street Mall or Docklands.
How much King deluxe room $295.
The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.
All weekends away are conducted anonymously and paid for by Traveller.