Melbourne and the Yarra Valley: eat, drink, stay, fly

The Olsen, set in South Yarra, is one of the Art Series Hotel Group ( along with the Cullen and the Blackman – each of which are named after renowned Australian artists. The Olsen’s 229 five-star suites are adorned with the works of landscape artist Dr John Olsen, while the interior of the Cullen, in the south-eastern suburb of Prahran, is filled with the cutting-edge works of Adam Cullen, part of Australia’s “grunge” art movement, whose paintings take an irreverent view of Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly and his gang.

The Blackman showcases the works of Charles Blackman, with an emphasis on his large and spectacular Alice in Wonderland paintings. Prices for a studio suite start from AU$209 per night.

In the Yarra Valley, make yourself at home in one of the 12 Yering Gorge Cottages ( on the banks of the Yarra River, each of which offers a spacious open-plan living area, wood-burning stove, fully-equipped kitchen and jacuzzi.

Once you’ve set foot inside, you’ll feel a world away from the city – especially once you set eyes on the herd of kangaroos which cavort outside the cottages each day at dawn and dusk.

A one-night stay in a one-bedroom cottage starts from AU$259 per night, including a breakfast basket delivered to your door each morning.

Food is one thing Melbourne does extremely well, and for top-notch tapas head to Mo Vida Aqui (, or if you fancy something French, Harvey’s (harveysrestaurant. is one of the city’s favourites; best-known for breakfast, it is also a fabulous venue for both lunch and dinner.

If you want to splash out, book a table at Vue de Monde ( in the historic Normanby Chambers building in the heart of the CBD for a real treat of classical fine dining.

And, if you want to head on into the night, top watering holes include the bar and live music venue, Toff in the Town ( on Swanston Street, and the swanky rooftop bar, Siglo on Spring Street situated just above the popular Melbourne Supper Club.

Economy flights from Heathrow to Melbourne via Doha with Qatar Airways ( start from £833; the scheduled flight time is 21 hours and 40 minutes.