Move over business travellers. Margaret Barca travels to Melbourne and discovers Next Hotel makes divine Negronis and the rooms ooze contemporary style.
Traveller: Margaret Barca
Room: Next Level
Address: 103 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Date: April 2021
Price range: $$ Next Room from $305, Club Room from $445 – discounts for Next Members
Best for: Ideal for business for also fine for a boutique city staycation
Next Hotel is in the ‘top end’, as it’s known in Melbourne, of Little Collins Street. That means the smart end, close to Spring Street, Parliament House and luxe shopping Mecca of Collins Street.
The hotel is in a swish 24-storey building, and a part of a new food, fashion and dining precinct known as 80 Collins Street.
Within a short walk, you can find…
Depending on your mood, you can head for the storied and stellar international boutiques and fashion houses that line leafy Collins Street (we’re talking Armani, Prada, Chanel).
You could stroll up Little Collins, cross Spring Street and get your fresh-air quotient in the lush Treasury Gardens. Or seek out an Asian gem in nearby Chinatown (classic such as Flower Drum, or quirky and cocktail-fuelled such as Hochi Mama).
Claim to fame
The Singapore-based Next Story Group have created Next Hotels to cater to ‘the next generation of business travellers’. There’s definitely a contemporary hotel vibe here – sleek but not-boring design, sharp service with eclectic and on-trend food and beverage offerings.
Off the side of the Manhattan-style bar is The Barrel Room. It’s small, but it packs a punch.
Stools line either side of a bench table and it’s here that maestro of cocktails and Master of the Spirits, Phil Withers, will crack open one of the barrels and release an aged Negroni, or perhaps a herbal liquor. It’s fun, it’s glamorous and it’s alcohol. What’s not to love? But you can also learn something – Phil is a fount of information. And amusing.
The family factor
This is not really a family-style hotel but staff members were so helpful and friendly that I’m sure if you had the kids in tow, they would be made more than welcome.
Our room was smallish and streamlined, a corner room on level 21, with intriguing city views (when you’re in a hotel in your own city you’re always surprised at what you can see).
The minibar features hotel-aged spirits and cocktails. There’s an espresso machine, Bose sound system, a rain shower, a Dyson hairdryer and heavenly Hunter Lab products (in eco-wise sizes).
The block-out blinds were phenomenal – it was so dark we almost slept in past checkout. The Club Rooms and Suites, on the very top levels, are considerably roomier with a residential feel and original artworks.
Beyond the rooms
Next Hotel offers a range of sitting areas with an understated glow, moody greens and greys, with dark timbers, rich velvets, well-worn leather settees and lustrous, muted gold lightshades.
Quirky tchotchkes dotted around – toy robots, horse-motif sculptures and pottery – as well as bespoke artworks, and design books on the shelves give a modern and clubby feel.
Book a Club Room or Suite for access to the actual Club, a hotel guest-only sanctuary where you can have breakfast, make yourself a latte or a chai and choose a pastry at your leisure, or sip an evening cocktail. Club Members have priority access to the two meeting rooms, for WFH (Working From Hotel).
Dish to dine for:
La Madonna restaurant is helmed by two Melbourne chefs with ample street and high-end restaurant cred and a modern, sometimes experimental take on hotel dining.
Daniel Natoli brings his family’s Sicilian heritage to the table, while Adrian Li is known for his mastery of Hong Kong street food.
Let the chefs put together a meal of many tastes for you. A succession of flavours we sampled included smoked tomato with soft stracciatella and basil, airy salt and vinegar zucchini fritto, slivers of Kingfish crudo with confit octopus and citrus, and plump little gnocchi with spicy tomato and blue cheese. Classics such as spatchock and bistecca were also on the menu.
Sweet-tooth? Don’t miss the cannoli – a more-ish mini roll of wickedly dark chocolate with a Fernet-Branca and pistachio ice cream filling. Mmm.
Check for opening or special offers, which might include complimentary access to The Club when booking Next and Next Level Rooms.
This is seriously inner-city, so not all guest rooms have brilliant outlooks. The higher you go the more chance you have of a winning view. Ask (nicely) when you are booking. To my mind, the higher you go the better.
Next Hotel has comfy spots to chill and chat without feeling you’re in a hotel lobby. Seat yourself on a stool at the generous bar, if that’s your style, or ask about a tasting at The Barrel Room.
We took a Hidden Secrets tour, and highly recommend it. Lots of surprising, curious facts.
Pick up a coffee from the hotel’s delightfully tiny Ingresso coffee shop at the front entrance as you head off.
You’re well placed for live theatre –The Princess, Her Majesty’s and Comedy Theatre are all close by.
You are in the CBD for business, but also in a luxury shopping and foodie hub for leisurely pursuits.
It’s fussy, but the pillows were a bit on the hard side. A pillow option would be brilliant.
V&T expert rating
8 out of 10
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