With its many laneways, undeniable style and impeccable collection of bars and restaurants it’s easy to see why Melbourne has consistently carved out a place for itself in the list of the world’s most liveable cities. The good news for those of us who can’t call it home is that it’s just as wonderful to visit.
Laneways are a quintessential part of Melbourne’s landscape. Snaking their way through the inner city, they act as mini suburbs with a life and character all of their own. There are many wonderful versions to discover as you meander around the city but if you’re short on time, we recommend making a beeline to a select few. Tattersalls Lane in Melbourne’s Chinatown is what all good laneways should be: narrow, atmospheric and like stepping into another world. Almost every façade is a bar or restaurant, making choosing difficult, but we suggest you head straight to the ever-popular Shanghai Dumpling House. Unpretentious and unassuming, $10 will buy you anything on the menu. Thanks to generous serving sizes and complimentary Chinese tea that $10 will also see you satisfied for a good few hours. Section 8 is the place to be for cravings of the liquid kind, especially when the sun is shining. This modern, open-air venue allows an old shipping container to function as the bar, lending the whole space a feeling of arty-cool. It gets busy here later at night so if you’re after a more tranquil experience, head here in the early afternoon.
For more bar options head over to Meyer’s Place, a laneway with a different vibe a few blocks over. This is where the city’s small bar culture began and where it now thrives, offering visitors everything from the classy and logically named Meyers Place to the nameless establishment which secretly exists behind Pizza Pizza Pizza. Loop Roof is another great option for those wishing to admire the laneway from a different point of view and Lily Black’s provides a prohibition-era experience for those chasing a dimly-lit venue with exceptional bartenders. If you’re in search of something totally different, Meyer’s Place is also home to traditional Japanese bathhouse Onsen Ma where you can steam, soak and massage yourself into a wonderful Zen-like state.
For a pick-me up coffee the next morning, Manchester Press is the place to be. It’s a quirky and charming space with killer coffee, delicious bagels and very talented baristas who are known for adorning your latte with incredible milk art. Hardware Societie offers a similarly cosy feel but swaps bagels for croissants and all things European. For something heartier, the baked eggs with chorizo, peppers and queso always goes down a treat.
No inner-city visit would be complete without a dash of retail therapy, some of the best of which can be found at the Emporium. Housing the largest designer precinct in Australia, finding your favourite local or international brand is easy. Head to Camilla for beautiful trademark kaftans, Chanel for pieces that will last a lifetime and Coach to discover your new favourite handbag. And that’s just the C’s! Many fashion events find their home here too so, if you’re in town at the right time, you might find yourself front row at a runway or indulging in a glass of champagne at Vogue’s annual Fashion Night Out.