Hubert Burda Media

Like A Melbourne Local

Owner and CEO of Luxe City Guides, and a Melbourne native to boot, Simon Westcott gives up his favourite haunts in the city.


The Adelphi Hotel is my go-to Melbourne bolthole. A designer classic wedged into iconic Flinders Lane (complete with cantilevered swimming pool over the street), it was refurbed a couple of years ago and has had a huge injection of distinctive and well-delivered service improvement. It’s upbeat but not hysterical, stylish but not try-hard, and the rooms are plush, generous and quiet for the city.


The boho town of Castlemaine is a 90-minute ride north-west of Melbourne and has strong arts and food cultures. The same terrain that gave rise to one of the world’s richest gold rushes now hosts a number of boutique wineries nearby. My favourite is Bress, which makes a wicked Chardonnay, as well as slumming it marvellously with local Harcourt apples for Australia’s best cider. Great long-table lunches during summer and autumn.


Melbourne boasts two architecturally distinctive house museums, which it’s worth getting organised to go see (you need to pre-book a private tour). The Lyon Housemuseum is in leafy Kew, and holds a large and varied collection of contemporary Australian art (including work by Howard Arkley, Patricia Piccinni and Callum Morton). Relative newcomer Justin Art House Museum is in grungier Prahran and pushes a little harder into digital and video art. A visit should include a relaxed chat over tea with owner-collector-architect Charles Justin and wife Leah.

Fitness hangout 

A short walk up Flinders Lane from the Adelphi is the serene Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Melbourne. Housed in a traditional Melbourne warehouse, but tucked away behind huge first-floor windows, it serves a passionate local yoga crew. It’s not set up for casual walk-in visits, but if you’re staying more than a week and can commit to a few classes, drop them a line. You’ll feel like a true Melburnite.

Long black 

Further up Flinders Lane, on the corner of Exhibition Street, is squishy but stylish Axil Coffee Roasters CBD Espresso Bar. The short or long blacks pack a serious punch. There’s a standing-only bar along the floor-to-ceiling windows, and you’ll be jockeying with a million caffeine-addicted hipsters, but it’s genuinely powerful coffee.

Watering hole

City Wine Shop manages to do that difficult thing: it’s a working bottle shop for informed wine buyers, and at the same time it’s a smart, relaxed wine bar mixing the Spring Street political class and a bookish crowd of young fogeys. It’s lively without being noisy, intellectual without being pretentious. And the wine list is very long.

Weekend hangout

It’s likely to be mobbed, but recently re-opened Stokehouse has earned its fine reputation. Bang on the beach in still daggy St Kilda, it’s as close as Melbourne gets to a Sydney vibe. Sashimi Sundays – for an afternoon of the freshest raw stuff – are a new fixture, and there’s a more casual vibe at spin-off Pontoon next door, with its long grill, deck-spinning DJs and old-school rollerbladers whizzing by.