Stylish Ibis embraces past era

Melbourne abounds with examples of its Victorian past and The Victoria Hotel (now an Ibis Styles property) is very much a reminder of days gone by as HELEN PERRY discovered.

Styles by name, style by nature – The Victorian Hotel located in Little Collins Street, is handy to shopping, trams, trains, and many attractions.

It’s just a short walk to Federation Square and South Bank too.

I usually stay at sister Ibis near Victoria Markets but on hearing the Victoria Hotel had recently been renovated we decided to give it a whirl.

The outcome was plenty of pluses and a few minuses.

As mentioned – location, perfect; entrance foyer, wide and welcoming, the stunning new chandelier making a statement.

The mezzanine lounge was spacious, comfortable and furnished in a way that encouraged us to sit, relax, read or enjoy a pre-dinner from Vic’s Bar. But the bar, (off the mezzanine) I didn’t like. It seemed characterless and somewhat dark for my taste. I much preferred to sit out in the lounge area.

Bedrooms, well, our room anyway, was extremely roomy with comfortable beds and a sparkling, tiled bathroom. Though simply furnished there was a subtle sense of old world elegance which we liked. What’s more, there was ample space for luggage and the myriad of shopping bags we seemed to bring back after each day on the town.

While we ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant – Alice’s was just step across a narrow alley way – I felt this was another area that lacked soul. It served a standard hotel breakfast buffet but the basic furniture and rather dull cream/brown decor reminded me of the NZ Herald staff cafeteria a ‘million’ years ago!

At night this became a Thai restaurant which I thought strange in a Victorian establishment, especially as this hotel’s past lends itself to something special when it comes to dining.

The original Victorian Coffee Palace Company was founded in 1880 and by 1895 there were 23 coffee palaces. In 1924, ‘coffee’ was dropped from the name and ‘palace’ was dropped in 1952.

Over the years, the hotel has seen numerous changes, expansions, renovations, decor upgrades and various modernisations such as the addition of en suites in 1960 and the licensing of the restaurant in 1967.

Many guests return year after year, especially those who marked their wedding day with a reception at the hotel. So, with its intriguing history and its survival though good and some very bad times, it seems a shame the dining room doesn’t offer a touch of glorious Victoriana.

Nevertheless, for travellers seeking inexpensive, comfortable, Melbourne accommodation which is handy to everything this wonderful city offers, then The Victoria Hotel – Ibis Styles, does the job very well.