Ovolo Laneways, Melbourne
A few weeks ago we headed down to Melbourne for the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards (where Milton won a gold award for one of his travel images!). The trip was made even more special as we had our first experience of Qantas' new business class suite which continues their relationship with uber designer Marc Newson and features seats that can be reclined during takeoff and landing. Sometimes it would be nice if that shuttle flight lasted just a little longer!
The other exciting aspect to our short break was that we squeezed in a visit to Ovolo Laneways, located near Chinatown on trendy Little Bourke Street.
Laneways, a former block of serviced apartments, was the first venture into Australia (and internationally) for Hong Kong-based Ovolo Group, a forward thinking hospitality company started by Girish Jhunjhnuwala in 2002 when he spotted a gap in the market for lifestyle hotels that are genuinely traveller-friendly and make all guests feel special.
The resulting transformation by HASSELL brought the colourful and eclectic charisma of the surrounding laneways into the building and created a collection of boutique pied-à-terres aimed squarely at young, design conscious travellers who favour character over cookie-cutter. Each of the forty-three rooms and suites features designer furnishings from the likes of Great Dane, artwork by contemporary Melburnian artists, Malin + Goetz toiletries, and a microwave or kitchenette, while the flagship penthouse and two terrace suites also include two bathrooms, three flat screen TVs, outdoor sundecks with city views and fun elements such as a pinball table, punch bag and jacuzzi. It's little surprise that these spaces have been particularly popular for product launches and the occasional bucks party.
Design is great but like they say it's the thought that counts and this is where Ovolo excels. Each of their properties exudes their passion for effortless living, which to guests means a fantastic array of nice little touches like USB charging ports on each side of the bed, free self-laundry, and all-inclusive goodies such as a complimentary mini-bar, a goodie bag laden with snacks, free high speed wifi for all your devices, Apple TV, and free drinks in the lobby from 6-8pm every day so you can network and socialise with your fellow travellers.
Due to the apartment-centric nature of the building there are no dedicated dining areas, so instead of the included breakfast offered at other Ovolo properties, Laneways offers a European style "grab and go" breakfast bag which sounds perfect for their typically young, busy guests who might also prefer to explore the local cafes (we grabbed a tasty coffee and toasted sandwich at nearby East End Den). For dinner there really is no point trying to compete with the sheer volume of amazing restaurants within a few minutes walk. One of our favourites, Longrain, is literally across the road.
Ovolo's mission is to create shiny, happy people and with Ovolo Laneways being voted Australasia’s Best City Boutique Hotel at the 2014 World Boutique Hotel Awards, that mission seems well on its way to being accomplished.