Tips needed - Hobart & Melbourne in late December

Old Mar 15, 18, 5:00 pm
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Tips needed - Hobart & Melbourne in late December

My wife and I will be spending 3 days each in Hobart and Melbourne - wanted to get a sense of what folks would recommend seeing and eating, but I also have some more specific questions. In particular:

-We will be in Hobart on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. My reading seems to imply that Christmas Day will be very quiet but that a good number of things are back open on Boxing Day. Is this the case?
-Does renting a car in Hobart make sense? We are staying at the MONA Pavilions, which from what I read has ferry access to downtown Hobart.
-Where to stay in Melbourne?
-Is there any reason to rent a car in Melbourne, i.e. any sights outside of town nearby worth driving to?
-Is there any difference at all betwen Jetstar, Qantas, and Virgin Australia when flying MEL-HBA? I am *A so I have zero preference between these choices, but having never flown any of them, I was not sure if one is better than the other (or if any are LCCs that will charge me extra for virtually anything)
-Are there any *G lounges to access in MEL?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 15, 18, 6:33 pm
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For car rentals, I think renting a car in Hobart would make sense, but it isn't completely necessary. It depends on your interests, but I think especially on Christmas Day you might find a scenic drive (Perhaps up to Mount Wellington) the best option considering most things are closed. In Melbourne there is no reason for a car, it would just be a liability. There are lots of nice drives out of Melbourne, but if you only have 3 days I would say just focus on the city and surrounds which are easily done by public transport.

The Melbourne Marriott (I see you have status) is not particularly inspiring but a decent property in a very good location. The Grand Hyatt is probably the best option overall. There are more options south of the Yarra River, but it isn't as good a location in my opinion. North of the river in the CBD the trams are free, the major train stations closer, and you generally are within easier walking distance to the main sights too.

Qantas and Virgin will be a similar experience. Jetstar is the LCC arm of Qantas. A good LCC, but still a LCC. If QF or VA are reasonably competitive on price, choose them.

MEL has SQ and NZ lounges for *A, but only in the international terminal past immigration. Not accessible on a domestic itinerary.
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Old Mar 15, 18, 6:36 pm
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Originally Posted by CPMaverick View Post
MEL has SQ and NZ lounges for *A, but only in the international terminal past immigration. Not accessible on a domestic itinerary.
Is SQ lounge accessible if flying J on TG, or are they pretty stingy with access for non-SQ passengers?
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Old Mar 15, 18, 6:39 pm
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Originally Posted by PsiFighter37 View Post
Is SQ lounge accessible if flying J on TG, or are they pretty stingy with access for non-SQ passengers?
SQ generally follows the rules, which I believe in this case would be up to TG and Star Alliance to sort out. I would think that in J you would have access to one of the *A lounges, just not sure which one TG has an agreement with. The NZ lounge is quite good, and much larger than the SQ lounge, although I slightly prefer the SQ lounge. Maybe you can try them both.
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Old Mar 15, 18, 6:58 pm
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Originally Posted by PsiFighter37 View Post
Is there any difference at all between Jetstar, Qantas, and Virgin Australia when flying MEL-HBA?

I am *A so I have zero preference between these choices, but having never flown any of them, I was not sure if one is better than the other (or if any are LCCs that will charge me extra for virtually anything)
LLC = Jetstar. Check what is in the ticket price. Luggage is extra.

I would base on schedule and then price. It is a short flight. MEL-HBA

QF is a ffp partner of AA & AS (and others)
VA is a ffp partner of DL (and others)

Originally Posted by PsiFighter37 View Post
-Are there any *G lounges to access in MEL?
You will only get access to Star lounges on an international departure. Not on arrival or for Au domestic flights.
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Old Mar 15, 18, 7:35 pm
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Originally Posted by CPMaverick View Post
The Melbourne Marriott (I see you have status) is not particularly inspiring but a decent property in a very good location. The Grand Hyatt is probably the best option overall. There are more options south of the Yarra River, but it isn't as good a location in my opinion. North of the river in the CBD the trams are free, the major train stations closer, and you generally are within easier walking distance to the main sights too.
It does look nice. Any thoughts on either the Sofitel on Collins or the Park Hyatt? Just on a superficial glance from pictures, the rooms seem a tad nicer.
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Old Mar 15, 18, 7:57 pm
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I totally agree that there is no reason to have a car with only 3 days in Melbourne.

Melbourne seems to be overflowing with nice places to stay. It took me a long time to narrow things down. In the end I chose an Airbnb (of which there are multitudes in Melbourne at decent rates). The place I will be staying is on the 35th floor right across the street from Southern Cross station so it's convenient to the airport bus service and other public transport options.
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Old Mar 15, 18, 8:04 pm
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Sofitel and PH are excellent hotels. Sofitel is on the main high-end shopping street (called "Paris end" due to all the Hermes/Chanel/etc stores there) while PH is a block or 2 away in a park enclave next to parliament. So a 100m walk to anywhere. Sofitel is a high-rise hotel combined with office building, so most of the hotel has great views as it starts on a high floor. Both are much nicer than the Marriott which has only location going for it. Personally I like the Westin but it is next door to a major construction site this year. The other interesting choice would be the Langham, particularly if you get a Terrace room (it is on the river in the middle of the action).
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Old Mar 15, 18, 9:33 pm
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The Park Hyatt is just a little isolated in terms of location. Not bad mind you, and surrounded by gardens which is nice, just a bit more walking for most of the major sights. The Sofitel is in a better location, but I still give the edge in location to the Marriott. Not sure how the rooms compare.

The Langham is central and an easy walk over the river to the CBD, but still south of the river wouldn't be my choice. But look at the sights you are interested in, maybe it would work for you.

Anywhere in the CBD will give you access to free trams which makes getting around pretty easy. But the Southern Cross / Docklands area is not the ideal spot in the CBD for most attractions.
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Old Mar 16, 18, 5:29 am
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Regarding Hobart, as CPMaverick said most places will be closed on Christmas Day so plan/book your meals ahead. But yes a lot of the touristy places and restaurants will re-open on Boxing Day. If you hire a car, you can see much more outside of the city, which I would recommend for both foodies and nature lovers. Bonorong will be open on Christmas Day 2018 so you could combine a morning there with Mt Field (short walks to waterfalls, tall forests) or even do the Strathgordon / Gordon Dam road if you are happy driving for ~5 hours return.

You can use the Mona ferry or Mona bus to get to the city centre and waterfront, or you can use the public bus (metrotas; X20, 520, 522 Bridgewater bus; ~35 mins; 2 zones fare). The bus runs later (though only until 9:10 pm on public holidays, and that probably excludes Christmas Day) and costs less, particularly if you buy a Greencard which has a daily cap. But at night you'll probably have to call a cab.
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Old Mar 16, 18, 1:47 pm
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Probably overlooked since your original post is eating.

Sofitel Melbourne is close to many good eating options:

Cumulus Inc (Cafe/Bistro type hybrid)
Coda (Pan Asian)
Supernormal (Pan Asian)

A bit further out (still in CBD or a couple of miles away):

Cutler & Co (fancy but still very accessible food)
Rockpool Bar and Grill (Australian produce at its finest)
Spice Temple (Asian, northern Chinese slant)
Maha (Middle Eastern)
Vue de Monde (degustation fine dining, technique)

Great cafes are a Melbourne strength. I like Hardware Societe, Seven Seeds but there are PLENTY of others.

For coffee, Market Lane, Seven Seeds, Proud Mary, St Ali, Sensory Lab, Dukes.

Iím trying some more joints in May so could to this list. 😀

I havenít eaten in Hobart (havenít been for 9 years)...

Last edited by JClasstraveller; Mar 16, 18 at 1:52 pm
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Old Mar 17, 18, 10:26 pm
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Hobart - take the MONA ferry. Parking is limited and the ferry is fun. My favorite dining in Hobart was at Glass House. The eggplant was so good we ordered a second serving (they are small plates). And that was something I never thought I would say - eggplant so good I want seconds.

Melbourne - Crown Towers is awesome and yes, it has a casino, but I have been there twice and still don't know where the entrance to the casino is at. It isn't like Las Vegas where the gaming is right in front of you. Park Hyatt is fine. Langham is about to undergo a reno and I can't remember when without checking my notes to see if it will be in Dec.

Food in MEL - Chin Chin, Seamstress, Izakaya Den, Cup of Truth coffee and so many more. You can't go wrong.
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Old Mar 18, 18, 1:39 am
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Crown is not in a good spot considering other options. If I were to map out an area for someone with 3 days in Melbourne, they wouldn't even venture to that area, which is just full of stock standard shopping, overpriced or average quality (for Melbourne) restaurants, and of course the casino. Yes, it isn't far from the CBD, but otherwise it borders the unremarkable Southbank and Docklands area.

Map the restaurants and coffee shops listed above, they are all a 15-25 minute walk from Crown. I don't see the upside to base yourself in that area at all, unless you are going to a conference at the convention center or an event at Etihad Stadium.

What makes Melbourne, Melbourne is not a modern casino-hotel-mall complex.

Last edited by CPMaverick; Mar 18, 18 at 1:44 am
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Old Mar 18, 18, 2:35 pm
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Originally Posted by JClasstraveller View Post
Probably overlooked since your original post is eating.

Sofitel Melbourne is close to many good eating options:

Cumulus Inc (Cafe/Bistro type hybrid)
Coda (Pan Asian)
Supernormal (Pan Asian)

A bit further out (still in CBD or a couple of miles away):

Cutler & Co (fancy but still very accessible food)
Rockpool Bar and Grill (Australian produce at its finest)
Spice Temple (Asian, northern Chinese slant)
Maha (Middle Eastern)
Vue de Monde (degustation fine dining, technique)

Great cafes are a Melbourne strength. I like Hardware Societe, Seven Seeds but there are PLENTY of others.

For coffee, Market Lane, Seven Seeds, Proud Mary, St Ali, Sensory Lab, Dukes.

Iím trying some more joints in May so could to this list. 😀

I havenít eaten in Hobart (havenít been for 9 years)...
Thanks for the restaurant tips! Will look into it later in the year. One question - do any of the top-flight restaurants close around New Year's? When I was in Auckland a few years ago, it seemed like virtually every fine dining spot I wanted to try was closed for a few weeks around Christmas to mid-January or so...
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Old Mar 18, 18, 3:58 pm
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Some do and some donít.

Boxing Day and following has a big sporting event (Boxing Day cricket test - theoretically lasts 5 days) so thereís plenty of life however some restaurants do close particularly those heavily reliant on corporate expense accounts.

I think the the best thing to do is to keep an eye on their websites and FB pages in the month or so before, they will usually announce it there.
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