In the years that K and I have been together, I think we’ve paid for a particularly well-appointed hotel room exactly three times. Once in Beijing, when we were stuck without cheaper hostel accommodation at the last minute. Once when we were in Kuala Lumpur and I was feeling ill. And once when we booked our honeymoon retreat. Other than that, we’ve stuck mostly to cheaper accommodation options like hostels, B-grade hotel/motels, or in recent times, private Airbnb apartments. After all, every dollar that we save by staying in more frugal accommodation, we can spend on an experience, or a museum entry, or a nicer dinner, right?
Given that we were going to be spending nearly $1000 each on our meal at the Fat Duck though, we decided that we might as well splurge a little bit more on a night at the fancy Crown Promenade hotel in Southbank. Most of the time when we’re in Melbourne, we don’t bother booking accommodation as we just stay with my dad. Knowing that the Fat Duck dinner would run late though, it made more sense to stay at the Crown complex that right rather than making a late night post-dinner trip back out to my dad’s suburban home.
When checking in to the hotel in the afternoon before our fancy Fat Duck dinner, we had a bit of a chat to the lady from Guest Services. Apparently, the hotel has seen quite a spike in holiday visitor numbers over the past few months as they accommodate locals, interstate visitors, and even some international visitors who have all been visiting the Fat Duck as well. Most of their guests are still business people attending meetings and conferences at the nearby Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, but there’s an increasing number of holiday travellers now as well.
We were right up on the twenty-sixth floor, and mere doors away from the in-house hotel spa and salon. I was tempted to call and book myself in for a massage that afternoon but after looking at the prices decided to give it a miss. I like massages as much as the next person, but I’m much more comfortable with the $60-$80/hr range, rather than $160/hr. Call me cheap if you will!
I was a bit alarmed when I first walked into the room and saw the open bathroom – one of my most hated features of modern hotel rooms. I understand why they do it as it does open up the whole space rather than having tight closed-in spaces. I just don’t like it – while K and I share a lot in our marriage, there are certain things I hold sacred. Privacy on the toilet is one of them – some things should just be kept private! Luckily, there’s several sliding screens that essentially ‘close off’ the bathroom and offer a bit more privacy.
I have no complaints about the bed though – it was super comfortable, the pillows were a perfect height and softness for me, and what felt like 100% Egyptian cotton high thread count sheets. Pure luxury – the type that reminds me that going to bed every night would be a lot more appealing if I made a real investment in a high-quality sheet set. The $50 sheets from Kmart from my student days simply don’t cut the mustard any more!
Each room comes supplied with a great range of current magazines, with enough variety to suit most tastes. I spent some time catching up on the latest issues of Gourmet Traveller and Marie Claire, and reading about the latest bar and restaurant openings in the Time Out Melbourne magazine. For those of a more serious mind, there’s a number of current affairs journals as well, or magazines like Mens Health for the men in the room.
As a tea fiend who drinks at least five cups a day, having a good selection of tea is very important to me. It was great to see the variety of teas from Madame Flavour available. I loved the Green Jasmine & Pear, and the Mint Lavender Tisane was just delightful as well.
The only downside of our stay was a mix-up with the room service. We ordered a simple serve of toast for our in-room breakfast, to be delivered between 10am and 10.30am. Imagine our surprise when we were woken from our slumber at 7am with persistent knocking on the door and took delivery of two slices of cold toast. Unfortunately, I found it hard to get back to sleep after that which quite spoiled the morning as I felt tired and lethargic. The hotel did end up apologising when I gave them the feedback and refunded the cost of the breakfast – but the damage was done.
Minor room service hiccups aside, our stay at the Crown Promenade was absolutely delightful. It’s nice to be able to splurge like that on nice accommodation every once in a while, and it reminds me to indulge a little bit while we travel through Europe later this year on our seven month honeymoon. Yes, we may only be able to afford tiny studio apartments off Airbnb in the more-expensive Western Europe…but imagine how we can splurge in places like Croatia or Serbia where our dollar will go a lot further!