A recent arrival on the Melbourne hotel scene ticks a lot of boxes, travel editor Winsor Dobbin reports.
Finding a hotel that has the right vibe for you is hard enough. Discovering a hotel that also does great food is even harder.
That makes the new Mövenpick Melbourne on Spencer a rare find.
The Mövenpick empire – built from a Swiss ice-cream business – is now part of the Accor group but it sets itself apart from the crowd, not least because of its daily free chocolate experiences for in-house guests. The Mövenpick is also home to Miss Mi, an excellent Asian fusion eatery.
It is Australia’s second Mövenpick Hotel and certainly has a great location – opposite Southern Cross Station and on the doorstep of Little Collins St.
There is a real style and panache here; slick service in a colourful setting and a boutique feel. The 172-room hotel forms the six-level podium of the striking 78-storey Premier Tower development at the meeting point of Spencer and Bourke Streets in the CBD.
An ode to Melbourne’s vibrant arts scene, the hotel showcases a collection of works from outstanding local photographers including Steve Scalone and Sean Mcdonald. Located on levels one to six, each room – and mine was exceptionally quiet and comfortable – features premium linens and blackout curtains, a rain shower and amenities from YUNI Beauty.
From 3.30pm to 4.30pm daily, hotel guests can indulge in complimentary sweet treats, such as chocolate petit fours, churros, mini ice-cream cones and ice cream sandwiches. I made certain to arrive in time!
Celebrating Mövenpick’s 70-year gourmet history, the hotel houses both Miss Mi and a Mövenpick Café that serves the brand’s signature ice cream alongside barista-made coffee and local artisan chocolates.
The hotel has a dedicated recreation floor featuring a 25-metre swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and well-equipped gymnasium. Open until 10pm, this is one of only a few hotels pools in Melbourne where guests can swim at night. There is free wireless high-speed internet for those who need to work.
Miss Mi has a couple of obvious strikes against it.
First, it is a restaurant in a hotel. A combination which rarely produces stellar food.
Secondly, it serves an adventurous pan-Asian menu. And it is a fact that restaurants offering several different cuisines on one menu rarely manage to get any of them right.
Miss Mi, however, is an exception to many rules.
From the Philippines to Myanmar, Vietnam to Sri Lanka, be prepared for a culinary journey around Asia that hits a lot of high spots. Which probably explains why the majority of diners are actually Asian residents of Melbourne rather than hotel guests.
This is a restaurant in a hotel; not a hotel restaurant.
Here is the website blurb: “Dynamic yet intimate, Miss Mi merges the exotic with the familiar. Here, time-honoured Asian techniques, ingredients and flavours are paired with modern methods as our team takes you on a culinary journey to the heart of Asia.”
I ordered a couple of dishes but the chef knew I was in house so kept sending out samples for me to taste. A light dinner turned into a feast. A most agreeable feast. There is an open kitchen so you can keep an eye on proceedings as the kitchen cast of many nations gets to work.
On the evidence of my meal, Miss Mi merited the Good Food hat it was awarded within weeks of opening.
Some of the star starters of a very tasty show: delightfully crispy and flavoursome Vietnamese-style chicken ribs with nuoc mam; an intriguing plantain and banana dish and dangerously moreish Hong Kong prawn toast with chives.
Mains standouts include wild kingfish kinilaw, a Filipino take on ceviche, and the excellent Burmese goat curry with lemon verbena from Myanmar.
There is a solid wine list with offerings from the likes of Longview and Helen’s Hill by the glass.
A nice casual vibe and smart service. Highly recommended.
Miss Mi is open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm. Open for lunch from May 4, Wednesday to Friday from 12pm to 2.30pm. https://missmimelbourne.com.au
Maybe combine a stay with a day or two at the hotel with a visit to the Fireside Yarra Valley Festival in July, where local winemakers are promising some warming winter experiences.
The fourth edition of the festival will feature a range of activities for wine lovers and gourmets across a 16-day period from July 9-24.
Events will celebrate the season with the region’s finest wine and food on show against a backdrop of moody skies, crisp (or maybe chilly) nights, and open fires.
This year’s headline events include several gourmet collaborations as well as the Local Legends Long Lunch, which brings together some of Yarra Valley’s pioneering wine producers, including Yeringberg, Seville Estate, St Huberts and Yarra Yering.
The itinerary includes winemaker dinners, fireside brunches and wine masterclasses to suit all palates and budgets.
Visit wineyarravalley.com.au/fireside-2022 to explore the calendar of events.
See Winsor’s work at www.gourmetontheroad.com