Movenpick Melbourne on Spencer review: New hotel in Beyonce-shaped building is the sweetest yet

Our rating

4 out of 5

THE PLACE

Melbourne is the second city, after Hobart, to host a hotel under the Movenpick brand - yes, the same Swiss brand famous for ice cream. It's one of the most disparate business models since Yamaha decided to specialise in motorcycles and pianos.

But Movenpick is no novelty hotel chain - it has more than 100 properties around the world and plans to open 50 more by 2025. In 2018 it was acquired by French hotel giant Accor, but the brand's origins go back to 1948 and the opening of a restaurant named Movenpick in Zurich by Ueli Prager, who ran the company until 1991.

THE LOCATION

On Spencer Street, directly opposite Southern Cross Station, making it a convenient spot for arrivals on the airport Skybus or on V-Line trains from the regions. The Spencer Street end of the CBD has undergone plenty of development in recent years, with apartment and office towers springing up along its length, along with better cafes and restaurants.

THE SPACE

The Movenpick is located in one of these new buildings, Premier Tower - a striking 78-storey skyscraper with waves and bulges apparently inspired by Beyonce's music video for Ghost, which featured the singer gyrating while wrapped in sheer fabrics.

The Movenpick takes up the first six floors, with 172 rooms. Along with a 24-hour gym and a sauna, there's a heated pool that, while under cover, features glass louvres that open up the space to the street offering a nice mix between indoor and outdoor (it's also open until 10pm, allowing for night swimming). Along with the reception desk, the lobby also features a kiosk serving that famous Movenpick ice-cream.

THE ROOM

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We're here with our young children so take out a "family suite", which is two rooms joined by a corridor. Mum and dad take the corner room, featuring a king-sized bed, couch, armchair, adjustable wall-mounted big-screen TV and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the corner of Spencer and Bourke Streets. Double-glazing means there's little street noise despite being close to a busy tram stop. The colour scheme is mostly high-contrast black and white, with a wall-sized artwork providing a splash of colour.

The kids' room is similar, just a little more compact with a smaller couch. A notable absence in both rooms is a desk, though the small table by the couch is high enough to double as one.

The bathrooms also feature floor-to-ceiling windows with frosted glass, allowing in plenty of natural light. There's a spacious shower but no bath.

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There's no wardrobe - just a rail with coathangers above a cubby for other items. The lack of these is increasingly common in modern hotel design though I can't say it particularly bothers me. While it may save the hotels on space and expense, it also means guests are much less likely to leave their coats behind.

THE FOOD

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Movenpick Melbourne on Spencer hotel review
Miss Mi restaurant
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Movenpick is Swiss, so what would it be without a focus on chocolate? Indeed, from 3.30pm to 4.30pm each day there is "Chocolate Hour" where a different chocolate creation is served complimentary to guests. If you're feeling particularly indulgent you can go for an even bigger (non-complimentary) parfait dish featuring ice cream, macarons and more (best not to try and tackle it on your own - though my daughter gives it a red hot go).

The hotel restaurant, Miss Mi, is run by chef Esca Khoo, whose resume includes at Lûmé and Dinner by Heston. The menu aims to take diners on a tour of Asia, with dishes inspired by local cuisines from across the continent, including Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand and more. The flavours and presentation are top notch, with the wagyu short rib rendang curry a highlight.

STEPPING OUT

Melbourne's CBD has had a tough couple of years and is again struggling thanks to surging Omicron infections, but on the weekend of our visit crowds flocked back to the city and I'm sure will do so again.

One of the new highlights of the city is South Wharf's The Lume, Australia's first purpose-built gallery for digital art. The opening exhibition, featuring the works of Vincent Van Gogh, brings the artist's works to new life - and scale - through huge projections and animation. See https://thelume.com/melbourne/

THE VERDICT

The Movenpick is one of many new Melbourne hotels that have had the misfortune of opening during the pandemic, but once the city comes back to life, its location and fun elements like the pool and chocolate hour will hit the sweet spot for travellers.

ESSENTIALS

Rooms at the Movenpick Melbourne start from about $240 a night. See https://www.movenpick.com/en/australia-pacific/australia/melbourne/hotel-melbourne-on-spencer/overview/

HIGHLIGHT

How can you not love an entire hour each day dedicated to chocolate?

LOWLIGHT

A bath would be nice, particularly if you're staying with kids.

The writer stayed as a guest of Accor.