Husbands are with the kids, boyfriends have hit the golf course and dogs are at the neighbours. After weeks of careful planning and enough negotiating to orchestrate an armistice, other halves (and little quarters) are otherwise occupied. It’s time for a girls’ weekend – and watch out, because when the ladies get together, they know they’re going to have fun By Lisa Perkovic & Margaret Pincus
It’s every season in a day and the perfect season any day for a girls’ weekend in Melbourne. Rain might dampen the streets a little but never the spirits of girls on a mission in this super-chic city. In fact, the Melbourne Girls’ Weekend exists in a class of its own. Places to stay are as varied as the Sex and the City crew, with the personalities to match. Pack Marc Jacobs wedges and Versace shades for an über-sleek stay at the ultra-modern Adelphi Hotel in Flinders Lane (www.adelphi.com.au), Hermes and Burberry for the old-world décor at the Langham on Southbank (www.melbourne.langhamhotels.com.au) and black pumps with gold Dolce bling at Crown Towers (www.crowntowers.com.au). Like a one-of-a-kind vintage find, The Lindrum in the CBD has character in spades (www.hotellindrum.com.au) – the restored redbrick manor’s long and varied past includes everything from headquarters for the local papers to billiard centre for an international champion.
Melbourne seems to have been designed specifically for the all-day adventures of a girls’ weekend.
Sometimes it’s not a good idea to stay in a place where fluffy bathrobes and baby grands make it hard to leave. Making the most out of any girls’ weekend can mean using the hotel room as a storage facility only – dropping off the shopping bags and getting ready for a night in an expensive pied-à-terre you’ll barely see is hardly worth the price. Boutique hotels in the centre of the city are a good option. The Pensione Melbourne on Spencer St is very small in both size and cost and the newly renovated building has all the amenities needed: TV, triple rooms with single beds and a hairdryer (www.pensione.com.au).
Gallivanting around any city laden with shopping can be a challenge but Melbourne seems to have been designed specifically for the all-day adventures of a girls’ weekend. Tram systems provide easy access to the entire city and the CBD city circle loop is free. This means the discount outlets in Richmond, beach-chic boutiques in St Kilda and all-out merchandise Mecca of Chapel St are conquerable in the space of 24hrs. There’s certainly no need to rush; indeed it would be a travesty to forgo cheese and wine at Richmond Hill Café and Larder (www.rhcl.com.au) or chocolate ice cream martinis at the Koko Black salon in Carlton’s Lygon St (www.kokoblack.com).
If you’re after something a little more old school, the brand new Vintage Outing tour is the latest offering from Melbourne’s Hidden Secrets Tours (www.hiddensecretstours.com). The 4.5hr tour covers the inner suburbs and is hosted by Empire Vintage store owner Lyn Gardener (aka Miss Shirley) and Danielle Pumo (aka Betty), who whisk you from store to store in their lovingly restored 1960s Fiat 1500s. The groups fossick in a variety of shops and boutiques selling everything from antique furniture and kitchen utensils through to fur capes and high quality vintage clothes. And of course there’s always AT’s personal favourite, Bernie Alibrando’s Walk To Art Tours (www.walktoart.com.au) to pander to that cultural side you always knew you had.
A night out in Melbourne reflects the city vibe. The best venues are off the main drag, often nestled in rooftop terraces and are almost always one of a kind. Astro turf and parasols at Madame Brussels gets everyone in the mood for a tea party (www.madamebrussels.com). The former brothel on Bourke St is now filled with filigree garden furniture and waiters in white blazers. Their short shorts help set the country club scene and as eye candy they get more delicious with every Long Island Iced Tea.