381 Cremorne, Melbourne, review: Close to the action

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE LOCATION

Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson's wonderfully hyperbolic maxim that "too much sport is never enough" is nowhere more manifest than at this sleek new Melbourne apartment hotel. It is, after all, located right on the periphery of the Victorian capital's sporting and major events precinct in the diminutive inner-city suburb of Cremorne, adjacent to the more familiar Richmond.

Right across the Goschs Paddock (yes, that its name) from the six-storey 381 Cremorne is the imposing, bubble-roofed AAMI Stadium, designed by the Sydney architect Philip Cox. A 30,000-seat boutique venue – tiny when compared to the nearby monolithic Melbourne Cricket Ground – it was designed specifically for the rectangular codes of soccer, rugby league and rugby union.

Nearby is the expansive Melbourne Park complex, which hosts the Australian Open tennis championships as well as major entertainment events and  the "G", home of the AFL Grand Final. It willl also host    the iconic Boxing Day Test match between Australia and Pakistan.

But, as you will see, here at 381 Cremorne, which opened this year, the plethora of sport is not the only enticement for prospective guests.

THE SPACE

Typical of most apartment hotels, there's not a lot going on in 381 Cremorne's minimalist lobby, aside from a small reception-cum-office area manned during set times. However, there is provision for a ground floor restaurant or cafe which should enliven eventually this space.

Elsewhere at 381 Cremorne, art plays an important role. Each of the rooms is decorated with funky artwork by local artists with the corridor on the top penthouse floor featuring full-scale pieces from the owner's collection.

THE ROOM

There are 44 one, two and three bedroom stylishly appointed and architecturally designed apartments at 381 Cremorne. They feature designer furnishings, fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, cable television and pod-style espresso machines with milk frothers (a welcome First World provision if there ever was one).

Some of the higher-level, sound-proofed apartments facing busy Punt Road boast commanding views of the city skyline and the Royal Botanic Gardens with those on the opposite side of the building overlooking the rooftops of Melbourne's densely populated near-city suburbs.

THE FOOD

Around the corner from 381 Cremorne is Swan Street, one Melbourne's liveliest new eat streets, with Union Dining, Noir and Church Street Enoteca among the leading lights. Up the hill on Punt Road is Toorak Road and Chapel Street, two other well-known food-focused strips.

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Elsewhere there's Victoria Street, where you'll find Richmond's Vietnamese dining precinct. Or, if you prefer, you can just order in from a range of local restaurants listed on a card located in your apartment.

STEPPING OUT

On 381 Cremorne's website – rich in insider-advice on the best places to eat and drink – there's a statement that when staying in this part of town it's "impossible to get bored".

True, skyline of Melbourne's appealing CBD beckons behind AAMI Stadium with the city centre easily reached by one of the frequent trams from the line that runs near 381 Cremorne as well as Richmond railway station.

Of course, you could always stroll into town through Melbourne's parklands emerging, perhaps, at attractions such as Federation Square, home to the impressive Ian Potter Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria annexe devoted to Australian art.

THE VERDICT

There's always that sneaking feeling, at least for this reviewer, when staying at an apartment hotel, predicated on little or no service, that you're staying in a block of flats masquerading as accommodation that it could easily revert to fully fledged residential apartments when the market suits the owner.

Even though 381 Cremorne doesn't quite dispel that suspicion, it's a worthy alternative to a conventional hotel, especially if you're attending a sporting event, and let's savour it while it lasts. It's also a smart address if you hunger for a taste of Melbourne's inner-city good life from a less predictable perspective.

HIGHLIGHT

This part of Melbourne is not the most obvious location for a hotel of any ilk but there really is an endless list of things to do in the area.

LOWLIGHT

If you're arriving at 381 Cremorne by taxi it can be difficult for the driver to find a safe or legal spot on or near busy Punt Road to stop.

ESSENTIALS

Doubles start from $240 a night for a one-bedroom apartment. 381 Punt Road, Melbourne. Phone 1800 381 381. See  381cremorne.com.au.

Anthony Dennis stayed as a guest of 381 Cremorne and Tourism Victoria