Mr & Mrs Smith’s new correspondent down under, Simon Westcott, has served up his first portion of travel-blogging greatness from Melbourne, Australia, for the Smith Travel Blog – enjoy!
Iron up those Fred Perry tennis whites, restring the old Slazenger and dust off the McEnroe headband – the Australian Open is now in full swing in Melbourne. For those of us here on the sunny side of the world, that can only mean one thing: long afternoons watching the gladiators at the Rod Laver Centre in the city’s sport’s precinct.
If you can’t get to the stadium, try Federation (‘Fed’) Square, transformed for two weeks into Tennis Square, complete with live broadcast on the mega big screen, player appearances and great interactive stuff for big and little kids wanting to show off their killer serve or backspin googlies.
Perhaps mingling with the lithe young stars is more your thing. If so, dash to the net at Il Solito Posto (+61 3 9654 4466) at 113 Collins Street (entry on George Parade), a long-time favourite of the Open greats. Its classic, modern Italian dishes and hearty wines might not be the most sophisticated on the Melbourne’s world-class culinary scene, but they are delicious nevertheless and served with such warm, down-to-earth hospitality that the experience is hard to beat. They post daily pasta specials here. If you fancy a slice of the city’s upscale dining action, pick a suitable culinary match from Mr & Mrs Smith’s Melbourne restaurant guide.
Need a place to rest your head and calm down after all that on-court excitement? Check yourself into art deco boutique hangout The Prince hotel, in Melbourne‘s boho St Kilda district, and you can unwind in your slick Starck-appointed bathroom, or pamper yourself at the hotel’s excellent Aurora Day Spa. If your idea of down time is less chilling in the spa and more sipping wine on the rooftop, book a room at grown-up B&B Villa Donati. This boutique hotel is located in Richmond, the Melbourne suburb. Much like its namesake (Richmond upon Thames in London), it’s a great place to hang out and shop.
And finally – if you’re coming down to Melbourne for the finals weekend, don’t forget the notoriously changeable weather. It’s been a coolish summer so far – with rain and temperatures in the teens last week – but the city loves to throw a scorcher or two out of nowhere, too. Layering is a Melbourne art…
Game, set and match to the city down under.