Heritage buildings, high fashion and hot restaurants are just some of the reasons to wander along the leafy, eastern end of one of Melbourne’s most famous strips. Here are eight reasons to explore the Paris end of Collins Street.
The historic architecture
The Royal Arcade opened its doors in 1870, becoming Melbourne’s first and Australia’s oldest shopping arcades. The opulent arcade is known for its collection of quality boutiques and two carved statues of historical figures Gog and Magog guarding Gaunt’s clock. The Block Arcade which opened in 1892, was inspired by Milan’s grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It features mosaic floors, carved stone and glass-dome ceilings and is home to numerous boutiques and cafes.
What was one of Melbourne’s highest buildings back in 1932, the 12 storey Manchester Unity Building is now home to offices, units and retails spaces. Book in for a tour to explore the polished brass, black marble and the famous art deco boardroom, hidden away on the 11th floor.
The Athenaeum Theatre is the oldest public institution in Victoria, starting its life in 1839. The historic theatre hosts a range of live performances spanning comedy, music and theatre. Further down the street, you’ll find the heritage-listed Paul Smith building, with its red brick facade and stained glass windows, it is a perfect Instagram moment.
It’s Melbourne’s new home of luxe shopping
Collins Street is fast becoming the go-to luxe shoppers precinct, with many international labels opening flagship stores on this sought-after strip. From Hermes, Giorgio Armani, Dior, Fendi to Burberry, Versace, Bottega Veneta – you’ll need a day to explore them all. If it’s a bit of sparkle you’re looking for, Cartier and Tiffany & Co will dazzle with diamonds.
The recently refurbished Gucci is not for the faint-hearted. Be prepared to line up before entering this three-storey shoppers dream which now occupies over 4,500 square metres. Head to Harrolds to find even more international and Australian designer labels including Valentino, Saint Laurent, Tom Ford and more.
If you’ve never met a scent you didn’t like, then MetaScent is the bespoke perfumery for you. This sleek, bright and airy scent boutique allows you to create your very own signature scent from their line of luxury fragrances. If you want a sneak peek behind the perfumery curtain, book in for one of their weekly workshops.
A long-time favourite among Melbourne’s most stylish citizens, Christine on Collins is known for its hand-selected collection of accessories and selection of elaborate, extravagant and elegant adornments. Their location, hidden away up two flights of stairs in a charming old building, adds to the mystique.
It’s one of the best places to see a show
From high-profile musicals to film festivals and independent theatre, Collins Street is a hub for live shows.
Catch Bring It On The Musical at the Athenaeum Theatre and save the date for Billy Elliot, coming to the Regent Theatre early next year. Hit The Capitol in Swanston Street for the 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival or grab tickets to a show at the nearby Butterfly Club, a more intimate theatre venue known for their quirky comedy, cabaret and burlesque. You can also find emerging and independent art and theatre at Fortyfivedownstairs, on Flinders Lane.
It’s great for a city staycation
Treat yourself to a bit of glamour and indulgence and book in for a stay at the French-inspired Sofitel Melbourne. Relax and unwind at the Westin with a range of wellbeing programs on offer or stay at Novotel Melbourne, with St Collins Lane shopping and dining at its doorstep.
Book a stay at Grand Hyatt Melbourne and enjoy the return of their Texakaya by Burn City winter pop up, a South American and Japanese barbecue fusion experience. Head a little further west to the historic InterContinental Melbourne and book in at Botanica Day Spa while you’re there. Just off the strip, opposite Parliament House is the historic Hotel Windsor and the famous Cricketers Bar.
It’s home to the only Dr Seuss gallery in Victoria
Tucked away in the Block Arcade, is The Art of Dr Seuss, one of only two Dr Seuss galleries in the Southern Hemisphere. From The Cat in the Hat to Green Eggs and Ham, there is a huge range of limited edition illustrations and other works to browse or buy.
There’s an abundance of hidden laneways nearby
Some of Melbourne’s most famous laneways are just minutes away, including Hosier Lane, ACDC Lane and Duckboard Place. But there’s also plenty to explore immediately off the strip, including Alfred Place, home to Garcon Paris Steakhouse. Connecting Flinders Lane to Collins Street, check out Manchester Lane for a spot of shopping at stores like The Sure Store, Design a Space and Bared Footwear.
Wander down George Parade and you’ll find Italian restaurant Il Solito Posto open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Howey Place is packed full of little gems like Princes Pies, or international fashion brands nevenka and Melko. Take another turn into Presgrave Place and discover the kaleidoscope of street art and stop in for a drink at Bar Americano.
Up-market (or should we say, upstairs) dining
Take the escalator up to the sophisticated St Collins Lane food hall, offering a little something from different corners of the world like Neil Perry’s Burger Project, Sushi Boto, Poke workshop, and many more.
Head up the stairs to Mexican taqueria, Mamasita, with a stellar range of tequilas, or wander up to Uncle for quality Vietnamese and exotic cocktails.
There are so many places for high tea
Whether you prefer a classic, cheesey, European or English-themed high tea, there’s an abundance of experiences on offer.
Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade draws the crowds daily for their English-style sandwiches, pinwheels, scones and signature petit fours. Don’t forget to keep your camera handy to snap their famous cake window.
Visit Collins Kitchen at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne for French-inspired ‘High Tea by Christina Re’, serving crab salad profiteroles, macarons and more. Or for a European-style high tea like no other, try Royal St Collins in St Collins Lane.
For something a little different, High Cheese at the Westin returns again this winter, with sweet and savoury cheesey goodness. Or book a table for Terracotta Warriors themed high tea at Sofitel Melbourne, an Asian-influenced foodie experience celebrating the current blockbuster exhibition at NGV.