Planning a girls getaway can be logistically challenging, firstly there's co-ordinating schedules to find a date everyone is available and then arranging the husbands and kids if you have families to wrangle, so you can enjoy a well earned break with your best girlfriends.
Deciding on the destination was surprisingly easy for our group of gals. Our wish list extended to shopping, dining, culture and relaxing in equal measure, so Melbourne easily won our vote. I sent a shortlist of hotels to the girls to consider and they unanimously agreed to book Ovolo Laneways, as it offered the best location – central city and surrounded by restaurants and bars and included a host of included extras like free minibar and free breakfast, so while it wasn't the cheapest option, it provided the best quality and value for our two night getaway.
After an early morning flight, our first stop in Melbourne was in search of COFFEE, surely an easy request in this coffee loving city...
Where we ate and drank
The European: off the plane and straight to the European, an old favourite and Melbourne institution. It's like being transported back to Italy, with dark interiors and bustling with efficient staff. The crumbed soft egg with asparagus soldiers was the pick of the brunch menu.
Rice Paper Scissors: We didn't need to wander far from our hotel to find exceptional food, we simply headed around the corner to Rice Paper Scissors, which came highly recommended. We added our name to the waitlist and returned 40 minutes later to a meal that was worth waiting for! We were perched on a communal table and made friends with a fabulous couple who shared their wine – winning! Absolutely choose the 5 dishes for 2 people for $65 option with Betel Leaf with smoked scallop and crispy pork belly salad with fresh betel leaves and chilli caramel sauce a real standout.
Punch Lane Wine Bar: a cosy wine bar neighbouring Ovolo Laneways, it is an ideal spot for cocktails and watching the comings and goings of laneway life.
Self Preservation Coffee: an inviting and creative space on Bourke St surrounded by art and wine. Time permitting, I would have loved to return to this gem by night.
Archie's All Day: Hungry? Thirsty? Archie's has you covered with an inventive menu, friendly staff, cool tunes and cocktails – the perfect spot for a boozy brunch. I had the special - Roasted Pumpkin Hommus with pomegranate, almonds, freekah, haloumi, poached egg and Turkish bread, but every dish looked the goods. This was the kind of café you wished was your local.
Alimentari: another neighbourhood diner you wished was in your 'hood. This deli has been in Fitzroy for 20 years and it's not hard to see why with quality Panini, wraps and scrumptious items from the deli cabinet.
Marion Wine Bar: after a day shopping in Fitzroy, the inviting setting of Marion's with its warmth and simplicity beckoned us in for a vino.
Bomba Spanish Tapas & Rooftop: Great atmosphere at Bomba, where we grazed on tasty morsels and enjoyed carafes of Spanish Spritz – Aperol, Casa Mariol Blanco, Soda, Lime and Orange. Ole!
Siglo Bar: a great late night spot for cocktails with views of the floodlit columned façade of Parliament, the spire of St Patrick's Cathedral and the domes of the Princess Theatre. It's Parisian chic, but the waft of Cuban cigars from other patrons can be overwhelming at times.
Longsong: also worth checking out the converted horse stables above Longrain, which is now a new bar, it's a great space with exposed brick walls, soaring loft ceilings and original stable floors.
Osteria Ilaria: I do love sitting at the bar and watching the chefs work their magic right in front of your eyes. We sat, we drank and ate plate-fulls of tasty Italian morsels. Bliss!
Where we shopped
While Melbourne is like any other city, with all the major chain stores available, there is the allure and promise that you'll discover something special. We'd arrived during the Black Friday sales (observed on the Friday after USA Thanksgiving) which was fortuitous and I highly recommend planning that time for a future girls getaway and some pre-Christmas shopping.
While we browsed Burke Street Mall and Melbourne Emporium, we soon longed for something more unique and hightailed it to Fitzroy.
Olga de Polga: Quirky vintage inspired fashion designed in Melbourne, featuring bold colourful creations.
Zetta Florence: beautiful stationery and homewares store embracing the fine art of letter writing and journals.
Leonard St: Quirky clothes designed by Amanda McCarthy featuring bold prints, colour and beautiful fabrics.
The LAIR: a concept store originating in Newcastle NSW and now also in Melbourne featuring a curated collection of clothing brands.
Design Dispensary: Unique, designer homewares from boutique designers across the globe.
Where we stayed
Ovolo Laneways is ideal for a Melbourne girls' getaway, located within walking distance of Melbourne's best bars and restaurants, as well as an easy walk to Melbourne's major shopping precincts. We splurged on the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Terrace Suite with plenty of room for a party of 4. While we didn't touch the well equipped kitchen, we loved stretching out on the sunny private terrace with city views. We also loved the Ovolo freebies including free Grab n Go breakfast, free daily happy hour, free mini-bar, welcome snacks and more.
So tell me, where's your favourite place to dine, drink and shop in Melbourne for a girls' getaway?
19 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Book Ovolo Laneways here.