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Wednesday 28 January 2015

A Melbourne hotel that's right at the centre of the party action

The initial signs were not good. The shrieking and giggling from down the corridor suggested a group of teens had decided that rooms at the Crown Metropol Hotel were the perfect location for their party. 

But once I closed my bedroom door, the soundproofing proved more than adequate, shutting out not only the pubescent party-goers but also any noise from people traversing the corridors on their way to and from the adjacent Crown Casino. 

The operators of the Crown Metropole not only have location, location, location on their side, but also understand that there is a time for partying and a time for sleeping. No sounds from the next door bathroom - and blackout curtains that make it possible to doze at any time of the day or night. 

Truth be told I'm not a huge fan of large corporate hotels. Many of them can be soulless and sterile. But I've stayed at the Crown Metropol on four or five occasions now and it does the job pretty well.

Described as "urban oasis", Crown Metropol is on the Southbank, well positioned for shopping, gambling, eating out or football at the Docklands Stadium. 

It is home to the ISIKA day spa, expensive like most Australian hotel spa facilities, but offering a wide range of treatments. There is also a sizeable swimming pool.  

Crown Metropol tests the patience by charging for in-room wi-fi, an anachronism nowadays, but appears to have resolved its check-in/check-out issues, which have been chaotic in the past but were a breeze this time. 

Less impressive was the fact I had to alert staff to the fact someone (possibly an over-excited teen) had left a hefty deposit of pavement pizza in the lift foyer area on level 11. The detritus did not look fresh, either. 

Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar, a relaxed fun space with casual food, is the signature restaurant for Crown Metropol but there are countless choices nearby, including Guillaume for French food, Rockpool Bar and Grill (try the wagyu burger with a glass of pinot), Nobu and Spice Temple - and Heston Blumenthal is on his way (yawn). There is also a food court with all the usual suspects.

Try to gain entrance to Level 28, home of the Skybar and where some lucky residents get to enjoy free pre-dinner drinks each evening in a clubby atmosphere. 

Not that the Crown complex is short of bars - but the views from level 28 are pretty spectacular. 

The bedrooms at Crown Metropol are very comfortable in a bland, five-star kind of way. Big beds, chunky pillows, good bathrooms with separate toilet and shower (although no bath in my room), good selection of TV channels and a desk with plenty of workspace. No turndown service, however.

There are 658 rooms and suites over 25 levels in total (with not quite enough lifts at peak times), starting from $268 a night. Staff are friendly and helpful, so that's not a bad deal.  

Crown Metropol, 8 Whiteman Street, Crown Towers, Southbank, VIC 3006. (03) 9292 8888.


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