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Melbourne / Naarm arguably best city in Australasia to visit

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Melbourne / Naarm has arguably become the best city in Australasia to enjoy for many reasons, most of all because of its awesome array of restaurants and shops.

It has a massive and growing array of sky scrapers, far more and bigger than cities like London or Rome.

For Kiwis the place is just a few hours away. The best hotel to stay in, forgetting the cost, is the opulent five star Langham Hotel, largely because of its site in the heart of the city. The vista of Melbourne’s skyline, from the Southbank by the Yarra River, is breathtaking.

The five star Langham is rated the best city hotel in Australia and New Zealand in Travel and Leisure 2022 world’s best awards. It overlooks the city, river and bustling 114 year old Flinders Street station.

Sitting on the Southbank promenade of the Yarra, it has views of the city skyline. The property is a few minutes away from Naarm’s central city shopping centre including Collins, Bourke, Swanston and Elizabeth streets, theatres and art galleries.

Each of the 388 Langham rooms has staggering views of the Yarra River and Melbourne skyline. Our suite was close to the executive club lounge on the 24th floor which provided free breakfast, drinks and canapés.

The room was spectacular, but our two tvs conked out on the second day and loud hum of the outside air conditioning units was constant.

What impressed about the 41 year old hotel was not the grand sweeping staircases and  fountains in the foyer, but the quality of service in the lounge. Pamela, from Argentina, showed what a great asset she is the establishment. The club lounge, the gem in the hotel’s crown, had sweeping panoramic views of the Yarra River and stagging Melbourne city skyline.

We smoothly checked in and checked out peacefully at the club lounge, away from the madding queues of people arriving and departing.

One night we dined at the swanky Melba restaurant, named after the famous opera soprano Dame Nellie Melba. The restaurant serves over 40 dishes from around the globe on offer including seafood, Japanese cuisine, chocolate fountains and tiny rich desserts, Indian curries, pasta and steak. The food was nice though our waiter was a little bit gruff.

We sipped champagne in luxury in the Aria Bar and lounge though the ambience was not so private as people walked past and we were not offered a complimentary plate of canapés per table with your drinks.

Forbes magazine has said the Langham is a grand and stately hotel.  For a major world capital, Melbourne has a pretty weak hotel scene. The Langham’s only real competition in town is the truly massive (not in a good way) Crowne Plaza Hotel nearby.

The Langham is hardly a boutique property, but it never feels overwhelming or anonymous, which is testament to how much they prioritize customer service.

Venturing out to the promenade, shops and restaurants was so seamless. We enjoyed the National Gallery of Victoria art gallery and was exciting to see a real Picasso.

What appealed about the central business district were the trendy laneways crammed with eateries. The bustle, mood and atmosphere Lane, and the famous laneways of Melbourne. The tram system adds colour to the city and just about every route intersects the train station and St Kilda’s bridge, which exceeds London’s Waterloo or Blackfriar’s bridge for quality and style.

Naarm is not only a great business centre, city and tourist attraction, it is home of the Wurundjeri people who have always had a deep connection to the river. It provided many resources and important places for spiritual and community activity, like birthplaces and ceremonial and burial grounds.  

The Yarra River is home not only to locals and tourists but also skinks, turtles, snakes and lizards which are known to inhabit the river. More than 25 unique vegetation communities make their home along the river and its billabongs, wetlands and swamps. Manna gum trees can be found along the river’s upper reaches and are an important food source for koalas.