Ovolo South Yarra
- Vibrant neighbourhood for shopping, dining, drinks and more
- If you are visiting the city, it's not far by car or train
- Gym access is remote, not on-site
- No in-room work space – although alternatives are available
- Free daily breakfast, evening drinks, minibar and more, for guests who book direct with Ovolo
Business travellers often gravitate to hotels in a city's CBD, but the new Ovolo South Yarra could be reason to rethink that.
With 123 rooms – and just two stops from Flinders Street by train – the property blends retro flair with modern Melbourne, while also offering free minibar, daily breakfast, evening drinks and more, for guests who book direct.
As domestic travel restrictions wind down, here's what one of Melbourne's freshest hotels has to offer.
Location & Impressions
Situated on Toorak Road near the intersection of Chapel Street, Ovolo South Yarra is in a great location for shopping, dining, and doing business in the bustling inner-east district.
Being a short walk from South Yarra Station, Melbourne's CBD is just two stops away by train, with easy connections to and from Melbourne Airport by Skybus via Southern Cross Station.
By car, allow 30-45 minutes between the airport and hotel: and when you do arrive, the staff are most welcoming.
Like the rest of Melbourne, they're also overjoyed to be out of lockdown – and it's great to be back in the Victorian capital.
Wander through to the lobby, and it's not your typical hotel scene – Ovolo is anything but.
The space is decorated with retro style and artwork, giving the hotel a distinct welcome very suited to Melbourne.
While the lobby resides on the ground floor, there's a funky lower level too. That's where you'll find more seating, and a (free play) pool table.
Exploring the local area, one 'must visit' is the Prahran Market, about 10 minutes on foot via Chapel Street.
Home to area's freshest fruit and veg, seafood, meats, breads, dips and more, the market also houses Maker & Monger, and its seven-metre-long window of Australian and international cheeses.
That's one of the better stops when you're staying in a hotel room as opposed to a serviced apartment with cooking facilities, and if nothing else, the grilled cheese toasties here are worth the walk.
Back at the hotel, Ovolo South Yarra pleasingly has no credit card surcharges, and accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club and JCB.
Ovolo South Yarra offers a variety of room types, from 15sqm "Go Go" rooms to 44sqm suites, with the "Groovy City" room being in the middle of the range, measuring up at 30sqm.
Wander inside and you're greeted by a full-length mirror, plus plenty of hangers for your clothes, and shelf space above and below that for other items and your suitcase.
That continues along the wall – mainly for display, but with glasses at-hand and a water tap just below.
Beneath the bench here, you'll find facilities for making tea and coffee, including a French press with grind at the ready.
Further down sits a sizeable safe, and nearby, a recycling bin – a welcome feature, which many hotels unfortunately lack.
These rooms come with either king or queen bedding, so if you have a preference, note that when you book.
The room's blind and sheer can be controlled from the bedside where AC and USB power is also readily available, along with an international travel adaptor – seeing the hotel well prepared for the eventual relaxing of Australia's border restrictions.
With storage space largely limited to the hanging rack, you'll find an extra drawer at the foot of the bed.
While it's a nice idea, it'd be easy to forget belongings left here, as the "Want more storage?" sign is a paper sleeve and could be accidentally misplaced or overlooked.
These rooms also provide a padded chair in a colour to match, aside a cocktail table.
The roomy bathroom offers ample hanging and counter space, along with a separate lighted mirror.
There's a walk-in shower too – always preferred to a 'shower over tub' (a.k.a., "shub").
Rounding out the room is a bar fridge.
Catering more to leisure travellers and those spending most of their workdays outside the hotel, you won't find an in-room desk here.
If you do need a workspace, the chair and cocktail table create a makeshift desk, which was surprisingly comfortable for several hours of laptop work – but not ideal if that needs to be a whole day.
The struggle then becomes nearby power points – they're available, but you need to go hunting.
For instance, if you happened to look under this wooden plank, you'll find outlets to plug in: but a small sign advertising their presence would be a welcome addition.
More noticeably, the in-room phone provides USB outlets, too.
But the room isn't the only place you can be productive – the lower lobby features several seating pods suited to casual meetings or laptop work, with power available too.
Some of the chairs at the hotel's Lona Misa restaurant also provide easy access to power, for those working and munching.
Speaking of Lona Misa, it's open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and drinks – located off the lobby, with a direct street entrance too.
Better yet, breakfast is complimentary for every guest who books direct, and while basics like eggs are available, dishes less-common in hotels like a tasty breakfast burrito are also on the menu: wrapping up scrambled egg, black beans, crispy potato, cheese and avocado salsa.
The guac on toast comes as a nice alternative to a typical cafe 'smashed avo', served with tomato, leaves, thinly-sliced radish and char-grilled corn, with a drizzle of oil.
Being nothing short of expected in Melbourne, the barista coffee here is indeed up to scratch, and comes included with that free breakfast.
That said, don't expect to find dishes with bacon, sausage, or other meats – Lona Misa is vegetarian in the mornings, and transitions to a vegan menu for lunch and dinner, except that (dairy) cheese can be added to selected items like burgers.
But taking away ingredients doesn't mean taking away flavour, with these fried potato fritters proving just one of the scrumptious options, served with a salsa verde.
Later in the day, guests who book direct are also treated to complimentary 'social hour' drinks, where Espresso Martinis were lined up ready to take.
Back in the room, the French press is easy to use, with chilled milk in the bar fridge.
Just note, as there are no traditional-style coffee mugs in the room, the double-walled glasses in the drawer are fine for this – but not the glasses on the shelf above.
Adding to the list of benefits for guests who book direct – which Ovolo calls "The Perks" – is a free minibar.
In the fridge, this includes beer, white wine, soft drinks, and sparkling water: all yours, at no charge.
Red wine joins the roster, as does your "loot bag".
Whether you enjoy these goodies at the hotel or take them with you for later, they're also complimentary.
When there's time to spare, Ovolo South Yarra has partnerships with local sites One Hot Yoga and Fitstop South Yarra, where hotel guests can attend complimentary sessions in lieu of an on-site gym.
Although Fitstop is an eight-minute walk from the hotel – which certainly feels longer in the morning winter chill – a 50-minute group session run by lead trainer Isabella was a great way to energise before a busy day ahead.
When you'd rather put your feet up, your 55-inch TV provides access to local free-to-air networks, with the added ability to Chromecast content from your own devices.
Just connect your gadget to the hotel WiFi, follow the on-screen instructions and enter the "pairing PIN" shown on the TV to link things up and get playing from compatible apps like Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and more (your own subscription required).
The service worked flawlessly, with WiFi speeds measuring at 41Mbps for both download and upload – perfect too for working and transferring large files.
While some travellers might be disappointed by the lack of in-room desks and an on-site gym, the hotel has workarounds in place to meet those needs, keeping in mind that leisure travellers are a bigger market for this hotel than high flyers.
That said, its location just off Chapel Street nestles it within a vibrant neighbourhood that stays awake after dark (but not noisily so), offering a much better atmosphere than Melbourne's quieter CBD for exploring some of the city's delights after work is done for the day.
This alone could make Ovolo South Yarra more appealing than a CBD stay, even if that's where your meetings are – and being just two stops from Flinders Street, your 'daily commute' is sure to be a short one.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Ovolo South Yarra and Visit Victoria.