HOW TO: SPEND 24 HOURS IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

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After a whirlwind trip to New Zealand and Bali, I suddenly found myself with some spare time. Not content with sitting at home, I decided to book a whirlwind city escape to Melbourne. Giving myself 24 hours to explore, I packed my overnight bag and booked a flight with Tigerair. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again - Tigerair’s 45 mins check-in cut off is genius. Whilst it means I need to be a little bit more organised before my flight, it also means that there are no last minute check-in problems. So with my boarding pass in one hand and my overnight bag in my other, I couldn’t wait to arrive in Melbourne and explore the city’s bustling CBD.

STAY If you’re in Melbourne for 24 hours, a weekend getaway or a short stay, staying in the CBD is a must. Unlike Sydney’s CBD where it’s a ghost town on weekends, Melbourne’s CBD is pumping! When choosing where to stay, I chose ibis Melbourne as I wanted to spend less on accommodation and more on having a great time exploring the city which experiences ‘four seasons in a day’.

Located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD on Therry Street, ibis Melbourne is on the doorstep of the city’s best restaurants, museums and boutiques. With so much to see and do, and so little time, my only issue was trying to fit everything in 24 hours.

Choosing to take a taxi from the airport, I arrived at the hotel and it was busy – even midweek it was obvious I wasn’t the only visitor interested in exploring Melbourne’s offering. The foyer itself was modern and funky. And for those who don’t know, ibis has recently taken a different direction in the design with the new ‘Archange’ look clearly showing that staying economy doesn’t mean economising on style.

Upon checking in, I was given a ‘Myki’ travel pack that included a transport card topped up the $14, a complimentary ticket to the DreamWorks Animation Exhibition at Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), an information pack about the city and the hotel, as well as a map of the city. So thoughtful!

Making my way to level 11, the very top, I was pleasantly surprised by the grandeur nature of my two level, two bedroom hotel suite. Who knew ibis accommodated rooms like this! It was very spacious and minimalist, elegant and bright. The first level included a self-contained kitchen and fridge, dining room, master bedroom, second bedroom and large bathroom with separate toilet. Taking the spiral staircase upstairs, I was welcomed with a second entertaining area, and office space with a desk and a large deck with sweeping views of the city.

However, with so much to see and do, I wasn’t able to marvel at the room for long. So I changed my outfit, grabbed my map and camera and with no plan in place, I went to explore Melbourne’s CBD.

BREAKFAST Catching a 6.30am flight meant I didn’t have time to grab breakfast at home before I jumped in a taxi to the airport, but I didn’t mind. I had heard so much about Top Paddock in Richmond that as soon as I arrived at ibis, I hailed a taxi and went over to try their blueberry and ricotta pancakes. Needless to say – I wouldn’t order anything else on the menu, it was that good! Top Paddock is located at 658 Church Street, Richmond 3121.

MID MORNING I don’t do a lot of shopping nor am I fussed about the latest trends, but I do have one guilty pleasure and that’s H&M. The Swedish sure know style so with a full tummy, I headed back to the CBD for a spot of glorious, multi-level shopping at Melbourne’s GPO – aka home to H&M. Without the pressure of shopping with someone else or time restraints, I enjoyed the pleasant flow of other early (aka eager) shoppers and took my time, rack by rack, level by level. Such an indulgence! I walked away with three new cushions, a couple of gorgeous dresses, a new shoulder bag and a longline jacket. Very happy! H&M is located in the GPO building on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD.

LATE MORNING Coming into the city from the airport by taxi I noticed a few advertisements for the DreamWorks Animation Exhibition, and knew I had to stop by. Shrek, The Croods, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, Turbo…the list goes on! So you can imagine my excitement when ibis Melbourne gave me a complimentary ticket to the exhibit! Naturally I hightailed it straight to ACMI at Federation Square. I’m not going to give it all away but I was there for over an hour laughing and marveling at how the animators create these incredible movies. The exhibition is open until the 8th of October, so make sure you check it out!

LUNCH After ACMI, I decided to cross over Flinders Street from Federation Square and explore the graffiti covered Hosier Lane. I thought Berlin was the home of graffiti – apparently not! The brick walls are covered inch by inch in graffiti. Enjoying the walk up the lane and taking a few photos I turned right onto Flinders Lane with no sense of purpose or direction and came across a restaurant called Chin Chin. My sister, who currently lives in Melbourne, raves about this place so I decided to check it out. Needless to say, it’s some of the best Chinese inspired food I’ve ever eaten! I highly recommend the Kingfish Sashimi with lime, chilli, coconut and basil to start, followed by the Barbeque Pork Satay with cucumber, pineapple, crushed peanuts and three flavour sauce with a side of roti bread and for dessert, you can’t go past the Grilled Banana Roti with condensed milk and cinnamon sugar. Mmmm.

EARLY AFTERNOON With the afternoon approaching, I decided to walk my food coma induced self down Little Bourke Street and explore Chinatown. A throbbing hub, the area was jam packed with Asian restaurants as far as the eye could see. If I had more time I would have had dinner here!

LATE AFTERNOON Keen to see the beach, I jumped in a taxi and made my way down to Brighton Beach to see the beautifully coloured beach huts. It’s the perfect spot to explore the beach, throw down a picnic blanket, read a book and wait for the sun to set. It was bliss!

DINNER Now I could have gone to a fancy restaurant for dinner, but as my sister lives in Melbourne with her husband and three adorable children, I walked from the beach in Brighton up the road to their house. Here I jumped on the trampoline with my nieces, enjoyed great conversation with my sister and brother in law, devoured a delicious barbeque, sipped on gorgeous tasting wine and sat by the fireplace enjoying an AFL final surrounded by the people I love most. If only Mum and Dad were there and it would have been complete!

After a long day exploring Melbourne, I made my way back to ibis Melbourne where I jumped straight into bed. The following morning I woke early, packed my overnight bag and enjoyed a buffet breakfast at the ibis Melbourne (although after staying in so many hotels this year I keep it simple – fruit, toast and a couple of eggs). With not much time to spare I caught a taxi to the airport where, before I knew it, I found myself back in Sydney. It was a whirlwind trip but I loved every single minute of it!

TRIP NOTES What: ibis Melbourne Where: 15-21Therry Street, Melbourne, VIC, Australia 3000 Contact: +61 (3) 9666 0000 or to book click here