Hotel Urban, St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria.

Where to Stay in Melbourne – Best Melbourne Boutique Hotels

The Best Melbourne boutique hotels include everything from stylish art hotels themed around great Australian painters to renovated heritage pubs with chic contemporary rooms and buzzy bars downstairs.

Where to stay in Melbourne depends on how you’re planning to spend your time, whether you’re going to base yourself in the heart of the city, the inner-city or by the beach. But wherever you stay, make sure it’s one of these stylish boutique hotels. Melbourne.

While we like a big luxury hotel occasionally, our preference for a stay of a couple of nights will always be a boutique hotel because of its individuality of style, its intimacy, the personal service, and the location, which tend to lean toward interesting inner-city suburbs and beachside spots like St. Kilda, rather than the city centre.

Where to stay in Melbourne should be based on what you’re planning to do. If museums, galleries and shopping are high on your agenda, then we love The Lyall in South Yarra or any of the Art Series hotels, our favourite of which is The Olsen. Keen to be by the beach with good restaurants, cafes and bars on your doorstep? Then The Prince in St. Kilda is for you. Want easy access to the city as well as Melbourne’s interesting inner-city suburbs? Then check into the Middle Park.

Here are our picks of the very best Melbourne boutique hotels…

The Best Melbourne Boutique Hotels

The Lyall Hotel

The Lyall is easily one of the best Melbourne boutique hotels and it’s as popular with locals as it is visitors to the city. The lobby bar at this luxury hotel in South Yarra was just buzzing the day we arrived. What we were to discover was that many of those people sipping cocktails or sitting on glasses of wine were locals. One local real estate agent apparently shows up almost every day with his laptop and uses the place as a second office. What’s not to love about a hotel that the locals treat like home?

The Lyall was another place we’d been trying to test out for years but never made it, so we were pleased our stars aligned this trip. Firstly, it has to be said that the staff here are the best in Melbourne. No argument. Nothing is too much trouble and they take pride in doing anything anytime for guests, from organising a helicopter ride or Yarra Valley wine tour to booking a massage. The latter of course being a breeze to do with a superb spa on site, but you know what we mean.

The spa is first-rate. Light and white, they use Sodashi products and offer a long list of treatments, including body polishes and wraps, hydrotherapy, and ‘rituals’ such as the Time Zone Recovery.

This is a family-owned hotel and the lovely owners Rowina and Peter Thomas are frequently around, when they’re not travelling themselves – and the fact that they’re keen travellers shows. This is an all-suites hotel, but in fact the suites are like compact apartments, with an abundance of space, super-comfortable furnishings and bedding, and a kitchen fitted out with all kinds of appliances and utensils.

They also offer complimentary Internet – something that we found in many boutique hotels, but rarely in the big luxury sleeps.
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Art Series Hotel Olsen

Also one of the best Melbourne boutique hotels, the Olsen is located in the same South Yarra neighbourhood as The Lyall. It has to be said that even if you’re not a fan of South Yarra (there are lots of fashion boutiques, cafés and bars, but only a handful of great restaurants), this is still a terrific area to stay because of its superb tram connections that will take you to St Kilda, Richmond, the city, and all the way to Brunswick East (and the wonderful Rumi).

One of our favourite spots in the area is Prahran Market (do the market tour) and the superb Market Lane cafe (get along to a coffee cupping), which are a ten-minute mosey away.

We love the concept of the Art Series hotels. What’s not to love about a hotel that dedicates itself to a renowned Australian artist (in this case the legendary John Olsen), hangs their work on its walls, fills its rooms with beautiful coffee table books and biographies of the artist, has the artist in to the hotel for functions (Olsen himself turned up for a party to open the hotel’s new restaurant during our one-night stay!), and offers art tours of the hotel?

However, appreciate that these are big boutique hotels. While it’s stylish, spacious, and the facilities and amenities are fantastic, there are 229 rooms. Nevertheless, The Olsen still feels intimate and is certainly boutique in style.
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The Prince

One of the city’s original boutique hotels, The Prince still remains one of the best Melbourne boutique hotels. The Price has been around for as long as we’ve been going to Melbourne. In fact, we were guests here when our feature film premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival way back in the early 1990s (eek!).

We’ve stayed here a few times since during our stays in Melbourne and we like this property a lot. The hotel is stylish, the location is superb, there’s a famed restaurant, Circa (recently renovated and with a new menu; see this review), and the rooms are spacious and comfortable. And they boast beautiful spa products.

The only thing we don’t like about the rooms – apart from the fact they are looking a little tired and need a bit of a spruce up (which is imminent) – is that their small mini-bars don’t allow you to store your own goodies. And what delicious stuff there is to bring home to try with Acland Street, St Kilda’s delicious delicatessens and pastry shops just a short stroll away. St Kilda Pier and The Esplanade are also minutes away.

The hotel was recently taken over by the Melbourne Pub Group, the restaurant and bar have been renovated and changed their focus, plus they have plans to renovate the rooms. We can’t wait to return in a year or so to see what they’ve done with the place.
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Middle Park Hotel

The Middle Park Hotel is definitely another of the best Melbourne boutique hotels as far as we’re concerned, even if it’s not strictly a traditional boutique hotel. It’s a pub. And it’s a very atmospheric pub too, with a terrific public bar serving up delicious counter meals and a bistro that is the place to be in Melbourne for Sunday lunch. (Arrive early and order the roast special!) It’s part of a growing trend in Australia to transform pub rooms, which traditionally were cheap and old-fashioned, into chic new accommodation, and it’s a trend we’re loving.

Yet the rooms upstairs feel as if they belong in a smart boutique hotel room rather than a pub, which is why we’ve included it here. This hotel is also owned by the Melbourne Pub Group, and probably exemplifies what they do best: great affordable and accessible food, stylish and casual surrounds, and warm, friendly staff. All that makes for a great stay – and again, we found the staff here super-helpful and lovely.

Sometimes pub rooms aren’t the best to recommend unless you’re doing an outback Aussie road trip, but in this case, we’d highly recommend these – they’re fitted out well, super-comfortable, and with a tram station across the road, a superb location halfway between the CBD and St Kilda, Port Melbourne (home to Omah’s) close by, and South Melbourne Market just one tram stop away, this is a brilliant place to base yourself for a Melbourne stay.
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There are 9 comments

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  1. Chris

    I love the atmosphere and friendliness of a boutique hotel, especially if it’s a small family-run one. Plus I’ve always found that the places with the best, most unique decor are small places, hidden away where most tourists don’t find them!

  2. Lara Dunston

    So do we, Chris. And so true about many of them being a secret – I’d never heard of the Hatton Hotel before, for instance, but I’m so glad we discovered it. It’s a true hidden gem. Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Hannah

    I agree with you on Hotel Urban – great spot, not stuck up and super comfy beds. The staff were super friendly and pointed me in the right direction for anything I needed – breakfast, lunch, wine and even a bar of chocolate! Hub the cafe does a great breakfast – try the home made crumpets – they were great. A lovely write up.

  4. joon

    I am planning a honeymoon in melbourne and wondering whether to stay at a boutique hotel or at a city centre hotel as the other post insists. Which one is usually less expensive? Or which one is more appropriate for honeymooners? Thanks!

  5. Lara Dunston

    Thanks and glad you agree, Hannah. Pleased to hear you enjoyed the hotel. I think their cafe has been renovated and relaunched since we were there. Good to hear they do a great breakfast.

  6. Lara Dunston

    Hi Joon – unfortunately I’ve seen your question way too late for your honeymoon. I’m so sorry. I would have recommended a boutique hotel such as The Lyall if romance is the priority. However, if it’s your first time in Melbourne, a city centre stay is best. There, you won’t find a hotel more romantic than the Windsor, especially if you book a heritage room. However, the Metropole is also sexy.

  7. Bec Walsh

    A really useful article. I agree boutique hotels are a much more personable stay and have so much more character. I will definitely check these out for when I’m next in Melbourne. I also like Royce Hotel on St Kilda Road – It’s located right next to the Royal Botanical Gardens which is nice if you want a city stay without being in the thick of it.

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