The streetscape of Melbourne's southern CBD fringe is traditionally a low-rise affair, but a 40-storey spike in the humble skyline marks the arrival of the new AC by Marriott Melbourne Southbank, which has opened in a flurry of paella and churros.
The clue to the Spanish connection is in the initials AC, which stands for Antonio Catalan, the Spanish hotelier who has been collaborating with Marriott since 2011. There are now 210 AC by Marriott hotels worldwide, with another 122 in the pipeline.
This is the brand's first and, at this stage, only Australian hotel, with the catchphrase of 'perfectly precise,' promising all you want, nothing you don't need. Such a phrase could threaten austerity: what, no toothbrushes or tea bags? But, in fact, the 205 guest rooms are well-planned (with both brushes and bags) and well-lit by wall-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Melbourne skyline, in a masculine, palette of 50 shades of grey.
Expect a slender infinity pool overhanging Montague Street, a sweeping hotel bar with high stools pulled up to the waiting bartender and a hotel restaurant led by chef Ryan Flaherty. The chef brings his years of experience in Spanish food heartland San Sebastian, as well as a stint at the revered three-Michelin-starred El Bulli, which topped The World's 50 Best Restaurants list an unprecedented five times.
The opening comes ahead of the launch of its rival and neighbour, Oakwood Premier – literally on the other side of Normanby Road and also 40 storeys of mixed use – which is still in soft opening. And it's hot on the heels of last November's launch of the Marriott Docklands, a collaboration with the same developer.
The Marriott, which has four Melbourne properties under various brands, has nine more openings slated for Australia in the next 12 months, including the Ritz-Carlton Melbourne.
AC by Marriott Melbourne Southbank, 201 Normanby Road. Rooms from $220 a night. See achotelmelbournesouthbank.com