Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands
It has been a long time coming, but Melbourne's Dockland precinct is really taking shape, with several hotels in the pipeline. Set behind the Newquay promenade, beside Harbour Town shopping centre, the four-star Four Points overlooks the Yarra River and the Bolte Bridge, which lights up for a surprisingly lovely night view.
Tonight, the lobby lounge and all-day Dock 18 restaurant are full of Korean monks in subtle grey robes, businessmen and a few couples in town for the night: perhaps they're contestants on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire – Channel 9's hangar-like studios are just around the corner. On the seventh floor, beside the 24-hour gym, a rooftop heated pool and jacuzzi, are stylish cabanas.
I have got one of 16 deluxe studio rooms in the 273-room hotel. The long, narrow room has two double beds. It's decorated in city-smart grey tones with textured grey fabric lining the walls, grey leather padded bedheads and oak cabinetry that hides the ironing board, safe, tea service and hair dryer. The shower-only bathroom is compact, with sporty, unisex Activ toiletries. The desk beside the window has plenty of accessible power points and USB ports: clever. It's compact, but contains all. Frustratingly, the windows don't open. General manager Stephen Ferrigno, home after 10 years at the Noosa Sheraton, tips the rooms ending in '15 as his favourites.
While the spanner crab and melon entree is light and tasty, I'm having entree envy over my companion's potato gnocchi with white wine cream, blue cheese and walnut: the comfort food of comfort foods. It's a delight to find an absence of chicken nuggets on the kids' menu in Dock 18 restaurant, replaced by tempura fish with crunchy veg. Don't fret, there is always the pasta with napoli sauce. The room service menu fits the bill, with a wagyu beef burger and the classic club sandwich alongside more substantial restaurant fare. The Mountain Goat beers are from nearby Richmond and Bellvale's pinot noir is from South Gippsland, with plenty of by-the-glass options. The breakfast buffet is busy with the standard run of scrambled eggs and beans, but there are plenty of late diners taking advantage of the 11am checkout.
Harbour Town, across the road from the hotel, is morphing from discount to diva, ditching its $2 shops in a $150-million makeover that will include a Hoyts cinema and evening dining. Great for families, it's a five-minute walk to the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, an ice-skating rink and ArtVo interactive art gallery, even a rooftop drive-in cinema (backlotrooftop.com.au). Step out onto the quay for a pleasant waterfront walk past intriguing sculptures, a few moored luxury craft and the occasional kayaker. It's less than 10 minutes' walk to Etihad Stadium, and the hotel is well served by the free city-bound trams that stop at the front door.
A very tidy option for a city getaway without busting the bank.
HIGHLIGHTS The rooftop pool overlooking the Yarra River: a reminder that this is a city on water.
LOWLIGHTS The bathroom is a man's world, with a marked absence of bench space on which to strew toiletries.
Docklands Drive, Docklands, Melbourne, (03) 8578 0000. From $199 until September 28, including breakfast from the buffet and Wi-Fi. See fourpointsmelbournedocklands.com
The writer was a guest of Four Points by Sheraton Docklands.