1 Bedroom Apartment with Water View
- Relaxing location, with easy access to the airport and city centre
- Modern style and amenities
- Partnerships with local restaurants for dining discounts
- Access to power points in the room
- Mediocre on-site cafe
- Apartment accommodation with hotel service
Settled on the edge of Melbourne's city centre, The Sebel Melbourne Docklands apartment hotel caters to both long and short stays, with full in-room cooking and laundry facilities just like you'd expect at home, paired with modern rooms and on-site amenities including a gym, swimming pool and tennis court.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by on a recent visit to the Victorian capital to put the hotel through its paces.
Location & Impressions
When arriving at Melbourne Airport, you're looking at a 20-minute drive to the hotel in good traffic – or, you can take the dedicated SkyBus Southbank Docklands Express service and alight at the first stop (District Docklands), a few blocks from the hotel.
Once you've spotted this building, you're all set...
... and after check-in, you'll be greeted by a high-ceiling lobby...
... and, if booked into one of the 'water view' rooms, exactly that:
Here, you're within walking distance of various waterfront restaurants, Etihad Stadium, and you're also located within Melbourne's Free Tram Zone, so if you're taking public transport within the CBD area such as to the office or a meeting, you don't even need a Myki card, because there's no fare to pay.
Three main tram stops surround the hotel: Newquay/Docklands Drive (served by the 35, 70 and 86 trams), Central Pier (served by the same, plus trams 30 and 75), and Etihad Stadium Stop D1 (served by trams 30, 35 and 86), so take your pick.
The Sebel also participates in the Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program, so by booking direct, members can enjoy all their usual status benefits, while earning Le Club points on eligible spend.
The property describes itself as an "apartment hotel", offering guests apartment-style accommodation but hotel-style service beyond the typical 'serviced apartment' approach, and after spending time in a 1 Bedroom Apartment with Water View room, I'd say that description is bang on.
For starters, you'll find much more than a bar fridge here – instead, a full kitchen with a fridge/freezer, oven, stovetop, toaster, kettle, sink, lots of bench and cupboard space loaded with crockery and cutlery...
... along with a microwave, pots and pans, a sandwich press, various kitchen utensils, and also a built-in dishwasher, discreetly hidden under the sink. However, don't overlook the almost-hidden drawer underneath the dishwasher, because that's where most of your utensils are tucked away:
As there's no Nespresso machine in the room, I quite appreciated having a stovetop coffee maker – not something I've ever been offered at a hotel before, because there isn't normally a stovetop to use it on, but in an apartment like this, it makes the place feel a little 'homelier':
Moving around the room, there's also a dedicated dining table with space-saving seats so that you're not tripping over, along with an HDTV in the lounge room with its own FOXTEL set-top box, offering access to almost every subscription channel available, which is also beyond what you'd normally get at a typical hotel:
The lounge room also features a large sofa (pictured further above), and in the separate bedroom, there's another TV (with only free-to-air access), along with cupboard space and bedside power, once you've located the power points behind the bedside tables.
The bedroom opens to a balcony: a great place to unwind after work...
... while the bathroom features a walk-in shower and amenities by Appelles (no, you don't have to bring your own, being an apartment hotel)...
... and catering more toward guests staying for longer periods, or making many stops on their business trip, a combined washer/dryer:
For getting things done, the in-room provides some great views – much better than staring at a blank wall in an ordinary hotel room...
... although access to AC power could be improved here, as the power points are too close to the floor to accommodate larger-style laptop chargers (such as for my Microsoft Surface)...
... and although the music dock behind has a USB charging port, the dock automatically turns itself off after a short period if you're not listening to music, so you'll either have to play something or keep switching it back on, which is frustrating.
Many hotels offer executive lounges to regular guests or those booked in the right rooms, although this hotel offers all guests access to the lounge, where tables are set up for meetings or laptop work.
However, even in the middle of winter, I found the lounge too warm for comfort wearing normal business attire, given there's also a fireplace nearby, which made it difficult to spend much time here.
For breakfast, the hotel features one on-site venue – Capri Cafe and Lounge – and although you can order more adventurous things from the menu, sometimes, you just feel like something simple: case in point, a ham, cheese and tomato toastie, with a latte on the side.
While the latte was good, the sandwich was so-so: the cheese wasn't melted consistently, and the bread was crunchy in parts and soft in others. For an item as simple as a toastie, it's important to get the basics just right, because guests can make these in their own rooms, after all.
I returned for a bite later in the day but also found that the restaurant imposed a $10 minimum purchase for EFTPOS and credit cards, yet most of the grab-and-go food was priced at $9.50, and the credit card terminal also wasn't configured properly to accept American Express – I didn't feel like spending more than I needed to or whipping out a non-preferred card, so I just went elsewhere.
During my stay, I also visited a couple of restaurants nearby, which aren't owned by the hotel, but did have a partnership with Sebel, providing guests with a 10% discount on their dining bill when presenting their hotel room key.
One of those participating venues was Sir Basil Cafe, where my latte was again acceptable, and the Korean Eggs Benedict was a nice change from the norm, providing a good kick without being too spicy...
... and the other being Berth Restaurant, where you'll find a nice atmosphere paired with a modern dining experience. For dinner, I couldn't go past a great Espresso Martini to start, joined by wild mushroom arancini and some crumbed calamari – followed by delicious homemade gnocchi for my main...
... while my dining companion enjoyed her eye fillet steak. For dessert, I ordered the "yoghurt panna cotta", which came presented almost like a forest on a dinner plate, being both delicious and adventurous.
Again, don't forget to present your Sebel room key when settling the bill to get your discount, and you'll find a full list of the hotel's restaurant partners here, on the Sebel website.
Note that the star rating for 'meals' in this review considers the Sebel's partner restaurants nearby, combined with its on-site cafe.
Remember that hotel lounge from earlier? There's also a large living space and library where you can kick back, albeit near the very hot fireplace...
... while all guests also have access to the on-site gym, with a variety of cardio and weight equipment:
There's a pool as well, which is just off from the lobby on the ground floor – you can just make out the lifts through the fogged glass...
... and up on the roof, you'll find a tennis court and an outdoor space:
All things considered, I'd definitely stay here again – with modern and fully-equipped rooms, a location that's handy for both the airport and the city, a stylish hotel lounge (when the temperature is right) and a great range of waterfront cafes and restaurants nearby, there's a lot to like here.
I've also learned that the on-site restaurant, Capri Cafe, has gone under new management since my stay, and can only hope that the new owners are offering guests better food and service than the last.
My only other gripe, and it's more with the area nearby than the hotel itself: although the room has full cooking facilities, the only supermarket within walking distance is an IGA Express, and the prices here were so extravagant that it's literally cheaper to go out for food than stock-up and cook your own in the room, so consider bringing any staples with you, or just enjoy the restaurants nearby!
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of The Sebel Melbourne Docklands.