If price were the guide, Crown Metropol should be very similar to its blue blood sibling, Crown Towers. But it’s a very different beast. Crown Towers looks like a blinged-out Russian billionaire’s wife compared to the super-sleek Crown Metropol. Written by Nigel Herbert.

This lady’s much more subdued and sophisticated. “We’re building a 650-room boutique hotel!” proclaims Harley Moratis, the General Manager of Crown Metropol. Harley plays the irony deliberately; his brand new charge is the largest hotel in Australia.

It’s also a very cool hotel. The foyer is all muted greys and abstract minimalist art. It’s welcoming, slightly sterile and modern but not mind bogglingly grand and shiny like Crown Towers.

The rooms themselves are more than great. (Those who follow my city hotel reviews will know I’m reluctant with the superlatives, so when I say great, you can go ahead and read “jaw-droppingly stunning.”) Even better, they are well thought out and comfortable. There’s the obligatory huge LCD TV, a chaise longue and a surprising amount of space left over. The Luxe room, at 38m2, is slightly smaller than the rooms at Crown Towers, but savvy design by the Bates Smart team succeeds in making the room actually feel larger.

The bathroom is a revelation. Large, open and “galley like”, there’s loads of floor and bench space looking out into the rest of the room. The only downside is no bathtub. The bathroom bench overlooks the bedroom, then the splendid city views. My bet is that women will be more impressed in many ways with the Metropol than they are with Crown Towers.

And it’s the little touches that really impressed me: complimentary bathroom amenity kits containing toothbrush, razors, toothpaste, shaving cream etc; a bedside alarm clock with an iPod dock that’s iPhone compatible; a spread of magazines – small elements like these set this apart from other hotels in the same price bracket.

As befits the crown, the hotel is well equipped, with a great gym and possibly one of the most impressive pools for a CBD hotel. Located on level 27, it enjoys stunning views of the city and is a sight to behold.

The Metropol is not without its faults. Check in was an excruciating process; a wait of more than 20 minutes at around 4pm on a Tuesday is odd to say the least. This should improve as the hotel beds down (pun intended) systems and the extensive upgrade packages.

Discussions detailing all inclusions on upgrade packages were time consuming but also the best value for any five star hotel around town.

The club lounge upgrade is more Club Med than Club Qantas. Being Melbourne, it has a funky bar, cosy lounge and separate dining area, all with varying degrees of excellent views. It’s an additional $110 per room, which is okay value for full buffet breakfast and snacks during the day. Complimentary pre-dinner drinks from 5:30pm until 7pm sweeten the deal. This is one way to make your stay a little more special.

The best inclusion for our stay was breakfast at maze restaurant. There’s a good spread of quality food, eggs cooked to order, and one of the more impressive fresh fruit displays I’ve seen in any hotel lately. For free breakfast it gets both thumbs up.

So, how much did we end up spending? The recommended rack rate for a Luxe room at Crown Metropol is $900 a night. We paid $275 for a Luxe room online. This rate also included the breakfast at maze.

Quite a bargain compared to about $299 for a room in Crown Towers and $235 for a room in the Crown Promenade. These prices were for online bookings for a mid-week stay. Weekends, and later bookings, would cost considerably more.

What’s The Gossip?
Here’s what other reviewers have said:
“Will appeal to hip younger things who find the competition too expensive or too corporate.” Kendal Hill, Gourmet Traveller
“It’s the detail and design that make Crown Metropol the jewel in the Crown stable.” Kay O’Sullivan, The Age

The AT Verdict

Nigel Herbert, who paid his own way and
visited anonymously, says:
“Would I recommend it? In a word, yes. It’s modern, stylish and unpretentious. However, if you’re looking for old world charm or off-the-scale opulence, this is not the hotel for you. But do yourself a favour and try it. Just once.”

Where
8 Whiteman St Southbank Victoria.

Contact

(02) 9292 6211, www.crownmetropol.com.au

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