Global Hotel Alliance
- Free Internet, newspapers, bottled water for all (GHA) Discovery members
- Separate bath and shower, even in the cheapest rooms
- 24-hour gym, spa, steam room and sauna
- Poor TV image quality
- Overly bitter breakfast coffee
- Adjacent to Melbourne Airport's domestic and international terminals
Tullamarine's Parkroyal Melbourne Airport hotel mixes comfort with a good chunk of convenience, given its doorstep is but a two-minute walk from the terminal and devoid of a shuttle bus journey.
Having taken the reins from the former Hilton Melbourne Airport hotel, the property offers 276 rooms and suites – some with runway and tarmac views for plane spotters – but which fortunately come without the disturbance of aircraft noise.
Location & Impressions
For business travellers spending the night ahead of an early morning departure, the Parkroyal couldn't be in a better spot: situated directly across the road from Melbourne Airport's domestic and international terminals.
It's also connected to the terminal by two passenger bridges, yet these can only be accessed from the departures level rather than arrivals.
If you've just collected your suitcase after flying in from another city, you'll need to hightail it up to the check-in hall and then cross over.
On reaching your room you'll find two bottles of water – complimentary for all Discovery loyalty members or $3 for travellers who choose not to join the free loyalty program...
... along with free in-room Internet access: particularly generous perks for entry-level GHA members, who can also request a daily newspaper at no charge.
The basic Standard King Rooms suffice for an overnight stay with ample bedside lighting for reading...
... a desk and an adjustable chair for working on your laptop...
... and an iPhone/iPod dock for relaxing to your favourite music, doubling as a convenient place to charge your phone before you've even unlocked your suitcase or cabin bag.
That said, it only supports iPhones up to the 4S model – released in October 2011 – rather than the newer iPhone 5, 5S, 6, 6S, 6 Plus and 6S Plus devices of more recent years which use the much smaller Lightning connector.
You won't find power outlets aside the bed, although there are two tucked away next to the desk phone.
There's also a 40-inch widescreen TV with a good choice of Foxtel channels in addition to the free-to-air options...
... but despite these all being broadcast in crystal clear digital, or even HD, the Parkroyal pumps everything to the TV via an analogue RF connection – which by nature severely reduces the picture quality.
In the case of CNN, it's bad enough that your Average Joe would think the TV is broken.
Also in the room: a PIN-access safe, the expected tea and coffee-making facilities and a functional iron and ironing board, which we always like to see...
... and one of those annoying "bump it and you'll pay" minibars, but which you can of course empty and use for your own goodies after advising the hotel of your plans.
'Standard' rooms come with a view of the adjacent car park...
... while views of the airport tarmac are available at a higher charge. Regardless of your view, every room boasts double-glazed windows and means that not a single aircraft sound is observed from the moment we arrive to the second we depart.
Even in the most basic rooms you'll find a separate bath and shower...
... with St. Gregory amenities including both soap and shower gel, whichever your preference.
Add to that an adjustable shaving mirror for the gents, ample forward-facing light for the ladies and bathroom power outlets for hair straighteners and the like...
... but oddly there's no hairdryer in sight – not even a cheapie clipped onto the wall – which is something we'd expect to see even at the cheapest of motels.
As it's included in the list of Standard King amenities on the Parkroyal website, the hairdryer had either been nicked by the previous guest and not replaced or was available only 'by request': either of which isn't ideal for the busy traveller.
Room tip: With no airport curfew in Melbourne and a bar that's open until late, this hotel's lifts 'ding' both late at night and early in the morning with airline passengers coming and going and people returning to their rooms after a few drinks.
If you're a light sleeper or just want to avoid the constant background noise, avoid rooms with numbers x35 and x36 (such as 735, 836 etc.) as these are directly opposite the noisemakers.
With the free in-room Internet fetching acceptable download speeds of ~3Mbps on more than one device at a time, keeping in touch with the office is an easy task.
You'll also find Internet available in the open plan, 24-hour business centre – either on your own device or two Windows desktops – along with communal tables for teamwork and the expected printing and photocopying facilities.
But it's worth pointing out that this facility is directly opposite a grand piano and the hotel's cocktail area for guests attending functions, making it a potentially noisy place to get things done.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks are all served at the Parkroyal's Airo trio, being Café Airo and Bar Airo – both blended together in the same space – and the separate but adjacent Airo Restaurant.
The Indian-style butter chicken from the Bar Airo menu went down a treat, although with the Papadums balancing precariously on the edge of the serving board, an actual plate would have been useful.
The larger Airo Restaurant serves up the morning buffet breakfast – often available for $20 or even free via the Parkroyal website – with an egg chef, a good range of hot self-serve options and the usual fruits, yoghurts, cereals and pastries.
But if good coffee is what you seek, make the two-minute trek over to the airport terminal and find a decent takeaway espresso there.
Why? The coffee machines at breakfast aren't programmed correctly and serve less than half a cup each time...
... which means you spend twice as long making your coffee and still wind up with a cup that isn't full – as visible in the table photo above.
After all that, the coffee was incredibly bitter, even for a double shot, and went untouched after the first sip.
Guests have 24-hour access to the on-site gym, with a good variety of cardio machines...
... weights and cable pulley equipment.
Once you're past the front door the hallway curves around to reveal an indoor pool and spa...
... a steam room and also a separate sauna, which were both unlocked and functioning when we stopped by just before midnight.
All things considered, you just can't beat the convenience factor of the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport.
While other airport hotels will have you waiting for a shuttle bus to and from the terminal, the Parkroyal is quite literally a two-minute walk from the airline check-in desks, which means a longer sleep-in and a leisurely stroll when you're ready to emerge.
And with creature comforts such as free bottled water and in-room Internet for all Discovery members – even those new to the program – you don't feel that you're 'missing out' on anything if your loyalty normally lies with other chains, and keeps your basic needs met until it's time to fly.
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