Ahh Melbourne. A city I try and visit as much as I can. Like Goldilocks, I love trying out various hotels in Melbourne and this time we decided to stay at the Sofitel on Collins Street, perfectly located in the Melbourne CBD and close by to sporting venues. So what is this Grande Dame hotel like?
The Sofitel Melbourne is an enormous hotel and themed in the colours of the Sofitel of gold and brown. Check in is smooth even though we are early and we are staying on the 39th floor in a junior suite. Staff are accommodating and deferential here. The lobby lounge called Sofi’s lounge is showing some art by artist Anna Fairbanks, part of the hotel’s commitment to the Arts.
Our junior suite is a large corner suite affording us fantastic city views. One thing to note is that the suite is not one in which there is a separate room for the lounge room and bedroom although it is spacious. There are lots of windows with shutters that close tightly so that you can have a good night’s rest without the sun peeking in. The look of the room is rather old school with the gold and brown colour scheme. The two seater lounge and two chairs sit opposite the king sized bed. I always find the beds at Sofitels comfortable as they are Sofitel's signature MyBeds laid with very soft sheets. All of the lights can be controlled by the tablet by the bed which makes things easy.
The well sized marble bathroom is well stocked with Lanvin products and there is a separate bath and shower. Although there isn't any natural light in the bathroom it is well lit for putting on makeup. Next to the bathroom there is a Nespresso machine as well as Ronnefeldt tea.
There's a knock at the door and a staff member brings us an enormous glass "Gastronomic terrarium". It's filled with a mixture of completely edible goodies from opera cake slices, fresh raspberries, chocolate "soil", truffles, macarons and tiny strawberry creme pots with syringes of strawberry gel. We have fun fishing out various pieces with the tongs and nibbling on them.
It's funny how fast time can fly when you're travelling. Before we know it, it is time for dinner which we are eating in house this evening. The hotel’s restaurant No35 is headed by chef Martin Horsley.The restaurant is located on the 35th floor of the hotel and boasts floor to ceiling views of the Yarra River, South Yarra and Port Phillip Bay.
Service is friendly and we’re handed a large steakhouse sized menu. Cocktails are ordered-the Joie De Vivre is a special of the day with Johnnie walker Gold, apricot, passionfruit and lemon and is sweet and very easy to drink. Mr NQN goes for the Pimm’s Fizz, another fruity concoction.
The wagyu beef tartare is thinly sliced wagyu beef topped with pickled pear batons, puffed black rice, confit egg, house made lavosh and a soy bean and tofu mayonnaise. The ingredient that intrigued us was the tofu mayonnaise. Certainly it tastes like tofu but it is a little mild like tofu can be and some seasoning would have been great.
*Prawn Cocktail $25 *
The prawn cocktail is our favourite entree and it is a prawn cocktail with a difference. It features two succulent poached king prawns, two wedges of baby gem lettuce, thousand island dressing, roasted prawn powder, avocado puree and a sheet of thin pressed prawn “lasagne”. It's creative but also delicious, the pressed sheet of prawn apparently made just of prawns pressed down to become a pliable kerchief.
We both love aged steak and this porterhouse comes with house butter, grilled bone marrow and two close of roasted garlic. Alas it is not cooked medium rare, it is closer to medium well done which makes it a tad dry (the same happened to the couple at the table next to us). We order a side of rosemary salt fries and they’re addictive little hand cut fries that are perfectly seasoned.
The pork is a sizeable and thick cutlet served with shaved green cabbage remoulade, a cider sauce, smoked bacon cubes and a pomegranate and pistachio salsa and Jerusalem artichokes. I particularly like the pork, remoulade and artichoke together.
The dessert platter is made up of five of the desserts, all of them except for the cheese platter. There’s a range of items from a super light and tangy passionfruit panna cotta with ribbons of spiced pineapple and a mango and lime sorbet (the coconut tuile, a favourite). Also on the light side are the mixed summer berries and a lemon curd cannoli which is slightly different from a traditional cannoli, it’s more of a tuile biscuit. And the compressed peach dessert is all light flyaway textures with white chocolate, yuzu and raspberry sorbet and freeze dried mandarin. And just in case you thought we’d gone all fruity there’s a rich dark chocolate fondant with grand Marnier ice cream and orange marmalade.
We watch as the sky darken in front of us at the table and the lights come on in Melbourne. We have a fabulous sleep in and then make our way to breakfast downstairs. We are always the ones that arrive 20 minutes before breakfast finishes so we grab something quick to eat.
The selection is comprehensive and there is also a egg station where waffles and omelettes can be made fresh to order. Because we were so full from the previous night's dinner we go with something light. A fruit salad and granola. I particularly like the golden, crunchy toasted granolaand we enjoy this while watching the view below. Ready for a day eating out in Melbourne!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you always stay at the same hotel in a city or do you try different hotels? And which hotel chain has the most comfortable beds in your experience?
NQN and Mr NQN stayed at the Sofitel as their guest for one night and paid for the other night but all opinions remain their own.
25 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone:(03) 9653 0000 http://www.sofitel.com/gb/booking/hotels-list.shtml
Level 35, 25 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone:(03) 9653 7744