Reviews

Review: Grand Hyatt Melbourne: new "no-desk" rooms put to the test

By John Walton, January 10 2012
Grand Hyatt Melbourne: new
Country

Australia

City

Melbourne

Hotel

Grand Hyatt Melbourne

Rating

five-star

Room

Club King

Notes
The Good
  • great breakfast
  • well-equipped gym
  • comfortable bed
The Bad
  • awful room soundproofing
  • "no-desk" room concept doesn't really work
X-Factor
  • Grand Club lounge
Location
Rooms
Meals
Overall

Introduction

Melbourne is remarkably well-sorted for upmarket hotels on the edge of business and luxury, and the Grand Hyatt certainly sits within that band.

The hotel recently completed a redesign of its 548 rooms, with a new "no-desk" concept seeing the traditional business traveller work surface replaced by a round table surrounded by an L-shaped sofa and leather bucket chair.

Australian Business Traveller readers were skeptical about the no-desk concept -- so the hotel invited me to spend 48 hours working in the room to report back on how well it worked. 

Location & Impressions

The Hyatt has a decent central location, especially if your business travel destination is that end of town.

Melbourne's Grand Hyatt sits towards the southeastern end of the CBD's grid on Collins Street, with Russell Street the nearest corner. With the Park Hyatt nearby at Parliament Square, make sure you're heading towards the right one, especially if in a cab.

The hotel lobby is modern and in an "intimately lit polished stone" style, which is fashionable but a little dim for my tastes. It's an open-plan area, with seating and the Collins Kitchen restaurant all sharing the same space.

Since I was staying in a Club level room, I checked in in the Grand Club lounge on the top floor of the hotel, which was swift, efficient and entirely painless, then just walked down the corridor to my room.

Room

The room felt small -- potentially because of the sliced off corners.

My Club King room was surprisingly small and oddly shaped, with less space than I was expecting and angled corners that cut down on the usable space in a room that's already on the small side.

Off a small corridor inside the room was the bathroom, followed by a large mirrored built-in wardrobe and then the rest of the room.

I was impressed by the bed -- an excellent balance of luxurious mattress pad and sheets with a comfortably supportive mattress.

The rest of the room was Hyatt's new no-desk executive concept, with an L-shaped sofa and low leather bucket chair facing a round table, with a wooden credenza end-table containing power points and wired Internet connection.

A chest of drawers beneath the flatscreen TV contains the (excellently provisioned) minibar and tea/coffee setup. Extra marks for delicious T2 tea.

But unforgivably, the soundproofing in the rooms was absolutely awful. I could hear the person in the room next to mine taking a shower, watching TV and opening/closing drawers.

Speaking of showers, the bathroom redeemed itself with a decent shower in a separate cubicle to the bath, but I was unimpressed by the downmarket toiletries, which were harsh, chemical-scented, and not especially pleasant.

I'd have expected more from a hotel of the Hyatt's calibre, room rate and brand positioning.

Work

Hyatt's much-touted new no-desk work area concept didn't work for me.

The big question for this stay was whether the new no-desk design worked for the business traveller.

I'll be upfront about my answer after two days of working from the room: a resounding no.

In theory, I like the idea, since I'll usually prefer to lounge on the sofa with my laptop in a hotel, watching movies or catching up with friends and family.

But with frustratingly located power points (and not enough of them), the need to drape power cords around the place, a sofa that wasn't actually all that comfortable, and the inability to adjust the height of the table, the execution was off.

The bucket chair isn't much better, providing little support for the back when typing on a laptop.

A much better option if you're on the Club level is to work in the Grand Club lounge, which has all-day beverages and your choice of numerous chairs and tables for working.

Internet throughout the hotel is great: I hit over 12Mbps down and 8Mbps up. Wifi is free in the Grand Club lounge or just under the $30/day mark if you're paying in the room.

Eat

Top marks for yum cha at the breakfast buffet, although it's hard to say that's worth the $40 breakfast charge.

I had lunch downstairs in Collins Kitchen, which did a superb piece of Wagyu steak.

Less impressive was the room service, which was astonishingly priced even for a five-star hotel ($31 fish and chips, $22 for a sandwich). And I had to call down to room service three times to get them to remove the trolley.

By contrast, I enjoyed the evening canapé hour in the Grand Club lounge on the same floor as my room, which was substantial enough for a light supper. The wine selection was impressive, with some choice drops, and the views across the Melbourne CBD at sunset were just beautiful.

If breakfast is included in your rate, I'd point you towards the main buffet downstairs in Collins Kitchen, which is impressively wide-ranging.

The best bits for my tastes were the yum cha corner and the omelette bar. That said, it's an expensive breakfast, at $40.

Your other option as a club level guest is to have a light continental breakfast in the Grand Club lounge, but it's much less wide-ranging and has no yum cha.

Relax

You really can't beat the view from the Grand Club lounge.

The Grand Club lounge is a chic place to chill, and you can even invite non-guests to join you for a nominal fee (around $25).

An excellent full-service gym (the City Club) with pool, a wide range of modern cardio and weight equipment, plus classes, is also available for your use.

Summary

I ended up disappointed by the Grand Hyatt. The new "no-desk" room concept really didn't work for me and the lack of noise insulation is inexcusable.

But the Grand Club lounge is a real draw, to the extent that I'd be happy to return just to spend an evening gazing over the city with a glass of something cold.

Our reporter was a guest of the hotel.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

AlG

AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

Yikes! I can see this having a lot of appeal to casual travellers, people who are just going to use an iPad or maybe their laptop in bed or briefly at that round table or while sitting on the lounge. But when I travel for business I want a real desk, a real chair and the rest of the deal like handy power points, appropriate 'task lighting' and so on. Seems like this room is a bit of a #fail.

wilsoni Banned

wilsoni Banned

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2011

Total posts 321

John's review is a reminder that a "redesign" that doesn't address structural issues can never alter the basic bones of a hotel. The Grand Hyatt was built with small rooms, power cabling and powerpoints adequate to 30 years ago (no laptops, cellphones, iPads etc back then) and grossly inadequate soundproofing. None of that has changed, nor can it without prohibitive cost. This is why I always stay elsewhere. The Park Hyatt is better (you still get a desk) and rates aren't that much higher, although it is not as conveniently placed and the power point issue still frustrates - take your own powerboard! 

htc

htc

Qantas P1

18 Jan 2012

Total posts 73

I have stayed here before and it's not my favourite. Even the Club Rooms aren't great. Despite having no lounge the Westin in my opinion is better. But my new favourite is the Hilton South Wharf where they have an excellent lounge and offer great upgrades to Suites to Diamonds.... Also another favourite is the Crown Metropol. Large hotel - but often has great offers for to their excluding 28 lounge quite regularly which is well worth it.


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