Open-plan hotel rooms can cause a plethora of awkward moments. After all, who wants to be watched from the bedroom when they are in the bathroom? This is where the apartment-hotel steps in: providing suite-size spaces within a hotel setting. Ovolo Laneways in Melbourne is one such offering, with each of the 43 rooms feeling like a mini one-bedroom apartment, with a living room, bedroom and en-suite all separated with actual walls and doors, giving you real privacy and the ability to escape from your nearest and dearest, just like you do at home. Making life as easy as possible is the mantra here, with a grab-and-go breakfast, free coffees in reception, a daily happy hour and free mini-bar, not to mention free in-room Wi-Fi, Apple TV, a kitchenette and plush toiletries from Biology. Indeed, there are notes everywhere alluding to the fact that there’s no request that they can’t help accommodate, and little touches that are thoughtfully helpful, such as the adaptors by the bed. Aside from being a comfortable place to stay, the hotel is also achingly cool, too, with its interiors reflecting its location in the quirky laneways neighbourhood of the CBD, with graffiti-inspired artworks in the lobby, brightly coloured room doors and unique communal furniture (there’s even a grass-covered sofa) confirming its status as a boutique hotel. If you’re looking for somewhere that hits the winning trifecta of convenient location, maximum space and cool factor, then this is it.
Stepping into our three-room suite, we felt ourselves instantly relax. There’s just something psychologically comforting about having more than one room to live in, allowing us to use the different rooms for what they are intended (sidebar: has anyone used the armchair or desk in a hotel room before?). The first room you enter is a sizeable living room, with our eyes immediately drawn to the art magazines on the coffee table (hello, Frankie!), not to mention the L-shaped sofa and gigantic polished black floor lamp. There’s also a flat-screen TV with all the usual channels, plus Apple TV, if you’re that way inclined. A surprising addition was the kitchenette, which not only houses your free mini-bar and snacks (including Tim Tams, locally-sourced cupcakes and a Loot bag to take it all away in if you don’t get the chance to finish it), but also a microwave, plates, bowls and crockery, in case you feel like a comforting ready-meal at any point. A sliding door separates the living space from the bedroom, which has the Most Comfortable Bed We’ve Ever Slept In. We’re not sure how they managed it, but it really is. There are fluffy robes and Ovolo-branded slippers, another TV, an ironing board and iron, plus full-length mirror next to the window, giving great light. In fact, that’s one thing Ovolo far surpasses its competitors on: natural light. While most hotels seem to be dark and badly lit, for reasons we’re never clear on, Ovolo benefits from large windows and bright lighting. Next up there’s the bathroom, which is Instagram-worthy with its white-tiled walls and silver fittings, with Biology toiletries provided in the large rainforest shower. There’s no bath, but we’d argue you don’t need one: it gives you more time to spend chilling out in the living room.
Eating and Drinking
There’s no restaurant at the hotel but you’re surrounded by foodie options – after all, this is Melbourne! There’s a list of hotel-approved restaurants in your room, which the reception can book for you, but here are some of our favourites nearby. Mezzo is a large Italian located next door to the hotel, which serves stone-baked pizzas with exactly the kind of doughy, slightly-sour base that you hardly ever find outside of Naples. If you don’t mind queuing, there’s Mexican eatery Mamasita a short walk away, with its Insta-famous ceviche and tacos, while Gingerboy specialises in Asian street food, which there’s a whole lot of in Melbourne. Speaking of, China Town is barely 5 minutes away, so head there for authentic Chinese dumplings too. Meanwhile, breakfast is a grab-and-go affair served from a suite on the fifth floor, which you can eat in your room or on the balcony if it’s sunny, with a generous spread of pastries, toast, fruit, yogurts, cereals and coffee all available. That said, there’s also famous Italian espresso bar Pellegrini’s down the road, which is definitely worth checking out too.