Hotel Review: Rydges Melbourne is transformed into a tech savvy, sustainable luxury stay

Normally a headline about The Rydges opening a new hotel would not thrill us savvy-boutique-loving souls into a Tay-Tay like frenzy to go book. But, hold your horses, this is one for the hotel snobs out there.. Shhhh can we let you in on a secret? This is the newest Rydges to open following an almighty transformation. It’s gorgeous with some savvy tech and sustainable touches to boot. Read on for why you need to reset your GPS and hang up your hotel brand hangups!

The Location

This is my favourite area to stay in Melbourne. It’s a chopstick throw from Chinatown, close to the theatre district, Collins Street boutiques, major sporting precincts and the Bourke Street Mall. It is on a tram line which makes travelling anywhere easy.

The Arrival

Well. Hello Rydges. My! don’t you look snazzy. Stepping through the revolving doors this isn’t your normal reception. This is a living ‘living room’ with plants tumbling from a centre pavilion of self check-in kiosks. To our right and left are cosy nooks, booths and corners which are perfect for WFH (H for hotel) with shelves of stylish art curated by Janet Graham. This feels more like a Qantas business lounge, but MUCH more stylish. There a lovely touches of Australian native plants. It’s more homely than hotel.

Warm smiles from the welcoming team direct us from their modular reception. This is what a hotel greeting should be like. We swiftly get our swipe keys and up we go!

One Bedroom Suite Room 511

The lounge, dining and kitchen area

We enter our 5th floor boudoir, aka one bed apartment. It oozes tactile furnishings and modern charm.  For a start, I love the lack of hard edges, it’s all sweeping, comforting curves. To our right is a natty utility room with a LG ThinkQ washing machine. In front of us is the lounge with a two seater sofa (this is my bug bear, please hotel gods – give us a three seater so we can lie down and perhaps put our feet on our partners lap!) a tub chair and marble style coffee tables complete the look with a mighty Samsung TV so slim it looks like part of the wall. This feels more home, less apartment. 

The kitchen

Kitchen: The room opens to the left with a beach coloured dining room table (round again!) surrounded by grey cushioned wooden chairs and a modern kitchen all in soft wooden tones. Two hobs, and a real oven (woo) along with a well stocked cupboard of cooking pans. The hidden fridge is stocked with craft drinks from Tuckerbox beers to Hently Farm wines. The dishwasher is integrated, but the sink space is missing a few little touches like washing up liquid, hand soap and laundry liquid. We only have one cleaning sachet for the dishwasher drawer.  

I am a fan of an island bench at the best of times, and the space is used smartly as a sit up bar just begging to host all those cheeses left over from our stint in the Yarra Valley. Large windows run the length of the room and are generously dressed with gently draping sand coloured curtains which also help keep the heat in and light out.

Kingsize bed with stand alone bathtub

Bedroom – A sliding door pulls back to reveal the bedroom. It’s a bit of a show off and beautifully designed with a bathtub acting like a piece of art at one end of the room and a chaise lounge at the other. Voyeuristic? Maybe. Enjoyable. Absolutely. The majestic king size bed has drop lighting over each bedside unit which are nice touches along with well positioned ports for charging. Hell yeah!

I also love a ‘good glide’. I could push these doors back and forth all day. The sliding doors have a silky, heavy dream-like hovercraft quality to them. Thankfully the designers chose NOT to make the bathroom open plan, nor did they give us a silly glass door, but a sliding door for privacy – much more conducive to romance (ask any woman!)! Rain and hand showers on one side of the double vanity and toilet on the other. The double sink area is amenities like body lotions however the vanity has a little square of soap.

Full size sustainable Thankyou toiletries and oh so fluffy-ducky-silver-goosy-gander soft bathrobes – give this place feel good vibes. It is wonderful that waffle robes are banished to whatever scratchy planet they came from. Our heating/reverse cycle air con isn’t working, despite the hotel efforts to fix it so we are in for a It is 18 degrees for our first night. For some this is a perfect living temperature (but I like it hot). I have formed a meaningful relationship with my robe which keeps me snuggly warm for the night. I can confirm I didn’t take it home with me, though I was tempted to take it for walkies… 

The Sleep – The hotel has been completely refurbished which includes Rydges DreamBeds. By our second night our reverse cycle air con is working. There is no noise from other rooms, nor from the padded carpet hallways and it’s beautifully quiet. We are on the street side so there is the low rumblings of the tram from time to time however these reduce late into the night. Our sleep is good!

Pool and Gym  

The rooftop pool is stunning. It’s a small space, but the architects have done a good job creating areas for lounging with chairs, coffee n’ cream striped cushions and towels. It’s a bit of an Italian vibe. The gym/interactive fitness studio is a good size and is kitted out with a decent range of equipment and benches. If you are into heavy weights you might find it a bit lacking. 

The Bossley Restaurant & Bar

Lovin’ the Bossley. It is on the ground floor with a central bar serving casual drinks and a small bar menu from 4pm. The main restaurant is to my right. It has a warm European bistro vibe to it with banquet seating and a range of tables and booths. Interior designers Luchetti Krelle have focussed on elements influenced by natural Australian muted tones of eucalyptus green and rusty ochre. It is shut on Sundays and Monday – the dates of our stay, so we look forward to dining sometime soon.

The Bossley Brekkie – This is a lotta fun! I am besotted with the bar of responsive taps which pour everything from milk (different types), apple, orange juice, sparkling water, hot water, coffee and more. No more trying to pick up a jug, or go to a jug and it’s empty. This is the bee’s knees of restaurant tech. The buffet brekkie is a good size which ranges from cooked staples like scrambled eggs, mighty fine slow cooked flat mushrooms, to more boutique touches like potato rosti (yummo!!) and hand carved oven cooked ham. Omelettes can also be cooked to order. It’s a great start to the day. 

What we are addicted to?: The tech. Super smart, phone integrated check-in and out. The ground floor transforms our expecations of a reception space into a living and co-working area. The interior design is bang-on trend, clever use of space, tables, materials and all with a good eye on sustainability.

What we need to be more addicted: Honestly not much! Be nice to have some bathtime amenieties to enjoy the tub, washing up liquid, soaps for kitchen and also main bathroom. This really is a great say and for the price it’s the place to book for Melbourne. If they wanted to up the ante and compete with boutique brands some welcome drinks/complimentary bar fridge or snacks would be a nice touch.

The Rydges, 186 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC 3000

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


- Enter Your Location -
- or -