Six of the best boutique-style stays in and around Melbourne

THE PRINCE HOTEL, ST KILDA

The Prince may have been overshadowed of late by another piece of St Kilda drinking hole royalty, the recently refurbished and nearby Esplanade, or "Espy", just up the road. But the 39-room art deco Prince is looking even more regal itself these days following its own full-scale facelift. As part of the makeover, the Prince has welcomed the Prince Dining Room, a new restaurant with a Mediterranean-focussed menu in the space once occupied by the dearly departed and much-loved Circa, along with nattily renovated "seaside chic" pastel-toned guestrooms. Doubles from $189. 2 Acland Street, St Kilda, theprince.com.au

ZAGAME'S HOUSE, CARLTON

Inside a former landmark, though unlovely, motor inn, and recently transformed by a $18-million makeover, Zagame's House has added an overdue slice of sophistication along the pizzeria-flanked city end of iconic Lygon Street. The arty hotel's 97 rooms are smartly decorated and generously appointed, and Lord Lygon, named after a former British cabinet minister and NSW governor, is an inviting in-house wine-bar featuring an extensive selection of drops and a relaxed small and large plates-based menu. For breakfast, head to the separate 1851 (named after the year of Carlton's founding), a commodious cafe-cum-lounge space. Doubles from $240 a night. 66 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne. See zagameshouse.com.au

LON RETREAT, POINT LONSDALE

Switching off is the biggest turn-on at this sparklingly conceived Bellarine Peninsula wellness retreat. It's formed by seven luxury designer suites and a spa nestled together in a corner of an 80 hectares family-owned property, albeit encircled by quasi-suburbia. The retreat not only enjoys an enviable oceanside and farmland setting, it's also home to mineral springs, their therapeutic waters playing a major role in the property's appeal. The miracle waters can be enjoyed courtesy of a sizeable indoor heated pool and even via facets in the in-room stone bathtubs. Doubles from $380 a night. 25 Gill Road, Point Lonsdale. See lonretreat.com

BRAE GUEST SUITES, BIRREGURRA

Dan Hunter, Australia's premier, heavily hatted regional chef, should already have enough on his famously imaginative plates than adding to his burden the onerous task of overseeing five-star accommodation. But he and wife Julianne manage to do so with considerable aplomb in the form of their hip straight-out-of-wallpaper*-magazine guest suites. Step, or stagger, from one of Hunter's exquisite degustation lunches or dinners with expertly matched wines back to your luxurious room and beat both the booze bus and the 1¾-hour drive back to the big smoke. Doubles from $615 a night including breakfast. See braerestaurant.com.au

EAST BRUNSWICK HOTEL, EAST BRUNSWICK

Far from the bright pasta and pizza bites of Lygon Street, Carlton, but still on right on it in the form of the far edgier East Brunswick section of the iconic strip, this recently reborn, century and a half-old pub comes with a formidable Melbourne rock'n'roll pedigree from its racier days. The hotel's decent, dozen studio and one-bedroom suites offer a slightly more affordable alternative to other more central accommodation. There's also the convenience downstairs of free-flowing booze and nosh and live music from the pub downstairs though you may be inclined to (ahem) voice your approval or disapproval in respect to the large and curious John Farnham mural on one wall. Doubles from $189, 280 Lygon Street, East Brunswick. See eastbrunswickhotel.com

UNITED PLACES BOTANIC GARDENS, SOUTH YARRA

The recipient of a coveted and deserved 2019 Australian Interior Design Award, the dashing United Places Botanic Gardens enjoys a welcome unity ticket with Matilda, the Good Food Guide-hatted restaurant that occupies the same building. Inside each of the dozen, no-expense-spared suites, guests are treated to the finest French bed linen, exclusive toiletries by Le Labo and a bottle of Tasmania's acclaimed Sullivans Cove whisky as part of the minibar offering. At night, envelop your separate boudoir with auto-operated plush velvet curtains. Doubles from $650 a night. See unitedplaces.com.au; matilda159.com

Anthony Dennis was a guest of the featured establishments and Visit Victoria. See visitvictoria.com

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