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The Lyall Hotel and Spa

The Lyall Hotel and Spa, exterior

Melbourne, Australia
Looking for a holiday Down Under with a luxury that's way over the top? We go walkabout and say G'Day and G'Night to Melbourne's finest hotel.

first impressions
You could call it Kanga Wu ... East meets west at this immaculately stylish, oriental-inspired hotel. Tucked away in the heart of vibrant South Yarra, Melbourne's most glamorous suburb, this exquisite boutique hotel really is full of eastern promise.

Set on a leafy avenue just steps away Toorak Street and trendy shopping strip Chapel Street, The Lyall Hotel and Spa adds pampering to a multi award-winning menu of elegance, relaxation and luxury. In fact, it's no surprise that Melbourne's only privately owned and operated five-star hotel makes you feel like part of the A-list glitterati – The Lyall is the destination of choice for visiting celebrities. Don't be surprised if you spot Paris Hilton sipping cocktails in the Champagne Bar, Pamela Anderson in the private gym, Olivia Newton-John in the bistro, Gwen Stefani on the terrace, or a host of international dignitaries in the business centre and conference room.

And thanks to the intimacy and personal service on offer, one night at The Lyall and you're guaranteed that 'boomerang' feeling – back again before you know it.

There are few hotel suites anywhere in the world that boast the same levels of style as those at The Lyall. Each of its 40 one and two-bedroom suites ooze opulence, with bespoke, custom-made dark-timber furniture, and sumptuous king-size beds outfitted with designer Warwick fabrics. Like the furnishings, colour schemes are 'contemporary oriental' with white and taupe walls, and subtle tones of gold and bronze throughout. Each room is also decorated with a selection of Asian-style, fine-art wall prints, created especially by local French artist, Thierry B.

The Lyall Hotel and Spa, bedroom

While suites vary in size – (from 50m² in the Deluxe; 70m² in the two-bed Deluxe and Super Deluxe; 71m² in the Grand; and a vast 103m² in the Platinum) – each comes outfitted with all the mod cons you'd expect from a hotel of this standard. All have a plush seating areas featuring soft, designer sofas, a coffee table complete with complimentary magazines, and a huge TV/DVD player with wide selection of free cable channels.

Then there's the individual climate control, a digital safe, velour bathrobes, slippers, and an iron and ironing board.

If you really must work, there's three direct phone lines with data port, fax machine and complimentary Wi-Fi broadband.

All guests are treated to their own private balcony with teak furniture, which offer unbeatable views South Yarra and the surrounding suburbs.

Most suites also boast their own marble-surface kitchenette, with state-of-the-art dishwasher, washer/drier, two-hob electric stove-cum-oven, toaster, kettle, and a range of free teas and coffees, and – of course- unlimited fresh milk. If you're dieting, beware the fridge freezer – it doubles as the mini bar, and comes stocked full of goodies, including Champagne, bottled beers, waters, locally made cheese and crackers, Haighs chocolate, and delicious ice creams.

Bedrooms are spacious and light-filled, with fitted wooden wardrobes and matching bedside tables, and a TV/DVD player. There's even a pillow menu: choose from hypoallergenic to goose down.

It's the attention to detail that makes The Lyall so special – and its bathrooms are no exception. They come with marble surfaces, steam-free mirrors, after-dark floor lights, under-floor tiled heating, double showers and a separate, deep hot tub. There's even an extensive array of complimentary Lyall Hotel toiletries. For that special occasion, you might consider the Grand Suite, with its private balcony, walk-in wardrobe, powder room and double-sized spa bath.

But for the ultimate in luxury, stay in the celeb-pad of choice: the Platinum Suite. a vast 103 square metres of living space, with separate business centre, powder room, a marble fireplace in both the bedroom and living room, kitchen and living room. It's huge, sun-drenched roof-top terrace is the perfect spot to relax with friends and family.

food and drink
Start your day the best possible way – in the elegant surroundings of Bistro Lyall. Whether it's a full 'Aussie' breakfast, or something a little lighter, this stylish eatery has it all. Its a la carte breakfast and brunch menu is bursting with tasty and unusual delicacies, such as homemade baked beans, goats cheese omelettes and sweetcorn fritters. There's also a Continental breakfast with a wide choice of cereals, freshly squeezed juices, yoghurts and homemade breads. The calorie-conscious might try the low-fat bagels, muesli and semi-skimmed yoghurts.

Late risers, take note: room service operates 24/7, giving you the perfect excuse to enjoy that true holiday luxury – breakfast in bed.

Breakfast isn't included in the room tariff, but the AUD$20-30 is worth every cent for the mouthwatering spread. Bistro-style fare is also on offer from the Room Service menu 24-hours-a-day. Choose from salads, potato wedges, sandwiches, frittatas and homemade hamburgers.

In the evening, head out to Toorak Road and nearby Chapel Street, where you'll find a dazzling array of eateries right on your doorstep. There's Japanese, Chinese, Italian, French, Greek, Korean and Mexican – to name just a few. A helpful information brochure in each room lists the restaurants recommended by the hotel owners.

The Lyall Hotel and Spa, bar

For a nightcap, head back to The Lyall for a signature 'Lyall Cranberry Champagne Cocktail' in the Champagne Bar. Here's a helpful tip: buy two glasses of Champers, and you'll receive two additional mini bottles of bubbly free of charge.

If you overindulge, don't panic: head to The Lyall's renowned spa and steam room. There's a full complement of refreshing Elemis and Payot treatments such as a Jet Lag Steam Session, full body massages, and a Frangipani Nourish Wrap.

Alternatively, hit the multi-purpose, Life Fitness gym for a workout. Here you can 'feel the burn' on its array of state-of-the-art cardio and weight machines. Catch up on all your favourite programmes at the same time – an in-built TV has all the best cable channels.

service with a smile?
Australian hospitality has never been so forthcoming. Thanks to owners Rowina and Peter Thomas, you'll receive five-star treatment the moment you step through the door.

With a wealth of experience in the hotel and hospitality industries, this charming couple built the hotel from scratch in 2002. Drawing inspiration from their favourite hotels around the world, they created The Lyall – Melbourne's best spa hotel, and now a prominent landmark local residents are proud to call their own.

Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi throughout, bicycle hire, valet parking, a well-stocked book library, courtesy newspaper, and unlimited use of the hotel's in-house movie rentals. There's even the 'Exclusive Shopping Privilege Card', giving guests 10% discounts at more than 25 local boutiques.

Be sure to explore the mini art gallery on each floor, where more designer prints from local artist Thierry B adorn the walls. Take a rest between galleries in the oversized armchairs in front of the open fireplaces on each level.

Children are welcome, and there's a babysitting service upon request. Staff will also arrange laundry services, disabled access, limousine airport transfers.

local attractions
Melbourne is literally bursting with things to do: the only problem is fitting everything in. Start with a stroll down nearby Chapel Street, internationally renowned for its fashion boutiques, trendy coffee shops and bustling promenades. A little further on is Prahan Market, home to a mouthwatering selection of fresh vegetables, meat and fish. It's always a hive of excitement and the perfect spot to grab a fruit smoothie and watch the world go by.

Be sure to visit the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, a 10-15-minute walk away. Follow the River Yarra towards the city and you can't miss it: 38 hectares brimming with more than 10,000 species, and more than 50,000 individual plants.

A 20-minute tram ride away is the vibrant beachside suburb of St Kilda. Here you can go sailing, scuba diving, or just catch some rays on the huge stretch of soft, yellow sand.

Culture vultures should head to Melbourne's art galleries and museums – the Museum of Victoria's Immigration Museum is particularly interesting.

But whatever you do, don't miss the Melbourne Aquarium on the corner of King and Flinders Streets: its 2.2 million-litre Oceanarium is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Here you'll find a selection of heart-warming – and heart-stopping – activities. Take the plunge and come face-to-face with Grey Nurse and Seven Gill sharks, stingrays, turtles and an array of exotic fish on a fantastic guided scuba diving tour. Or visit Lost Island, the aquarium's new child-friendly exhibit. Big kids will also enjoy investigating the legend behind the eerie 'Curse of the Mask'.

Sports enthusiasts can catch some world class cricket at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG); tennis at the Australian Open's Rod Laver Arena; and horse racing during the world famous Melbourne Cup.

will it break the bank?
They say the best things in life are free, but we all know that's nonsense. Nevertheless, a spot of luxury needn't bankrupt you, either.

Rates, including taxes, start from AUD$525 for the Deluxe Suite per night, through to AUD$2,625 per night for the Platinum Suite.

Various packages, gift vouchers and promotional rates available on request.

The Lyall Hotel and Spa
14 Murphy Street
South Yarra
Melbourne, Victoria 3141

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