I chose Swanston after researching many hotels for their locations and of course fellow travelers' reviews on TA, and i have to say it turned out to be an excellent choice for my 5day trip in Melbourne.
I took the Skybus from the airport (AUD17 per pax) which took us to Southern Cross station and we got on the free hotel shuttle service which dropped us right at Swanston's door step. It was 9am and our room was not ready yet and were asked to come back at 2pm as that was the usual check in time, so we went for breakfast and hopped on the free tourist shuttle which took us 1.5 hour for a full round.
We returned at 1:30pm and was granted the room - a relief indeed. We were given room 506 and was very pleased with the room when we saw it.
Room - we had booked a stanard twin which came with 2 double bed and both beds were clean and the room properly made up when we walked in. The red colours on the beds added a bit of cheeriness amidst the dull colours of the furnishings. The bed was a little softer than what I would have preferred but it nonetheless served its purpose well. There was also a small sofa and a writing desk as well as a modern flat screen TV positioned very well facing the middle of the 2 beds. I had no issues with lack of space to place our stuff as I read in previous reviews. The bathroom was old I think but was clean and no problem with the flush, bath amenities etc. But I have an issue with the half glass panel fitted as part of the shower as half really didnt quite make sense and water did splash out, plus the half means you feel the cold from the room when you shower, which was not good during autumn! The room really did look as per the other pictures show, excellent! The room was spacious and had plenty of room for luggage. As per the other reviews, the hot chocolate and cookies were an added bonus for us too.
Facilities - I dropped by the pool and it was smallish but looked nice nonetheless. There was a hotel bar which I didn't try as it was crowded when I peeked inside. My rate didnt include breakfast so cant comment on the food either.
Concierge service - Swanston is supposed to have one of the best concierge service in Melbourne and I'm pleased to report that the service is really excellent. The chief concierge Chris was extremely patient in explaining which tram to take to which place and even recommended the South Melbourne weekend market for us after finding out what we had in mind, which turned out to be an excellent recommendation. Most of them were very knowledgeable in terms of tram routes, landmarks to look out for, and what were available where. You can even get your metlink cards there so really no hassle at all. Just beware if there are the front desk staff standing in for the concierge as they may give you wrong information which happened once but I guess that's forgiven since their core work is not really at concierge.
Safety - You pretty much feel very safe in the hotel premise as the lobby was not rowdy at all times and the hotel lobby is only accessible using your room cards after 9pm at night.
Surroundings - the hotel has an unbeatable location right smack in the middle of the CBD. Trams are right at the doorstep, the Southern Cross and Melbourne Central train stations about 10-15mins walk away, and the 2 free ride: the city circle tram and the tourist shuttle all a few minutes away too. The happenings are all around you, with malls, shops, cafes, restaurant, tourist souvenirs shops, Chinatown, bottle shops. I had plenty of fun figuring out where to have breakfast every morning That being said, most shops and malls close at about 5-6pm and after that you basically can get a little bored but it was not too bad for us as we simply walked around to feel the cool autumn air and be entertained by the various buskers. Haigh's chocolate is also located at level 1 of the hotel which was good for me.
Shopping - I did quite a bit of shopping and would recommend the Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) which you can get to via tram 96. Also good is the Habour Town centre which is accessible via the city circle tram or the tourist shuttle. Good deals there! Brands like Valley Girl and Forever New are also affordable for most.
Getting around - the Melbourne CBD is quite easy to get around after you find your bearings. Trams, trains, buses are easy to understand. Cabs are quite expensive so I would not recommend that. My cab from the hotel to the airport when departing cost me AUD54!
My only gripe was the thin walls the rooms had - I could hear my neighbors shifting the furniture and talking every night, which was sometimes a chore forcing yourself to ignore those noises and going to sleep.
I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone who is traveling to Melbourne as you really cannot find a better location anywhere. This, plus the fact that its modern and clean, makes it an excellent choice for any travelers.
I would also recommend signing up for a Le Club Accor membership to have access to special rates and promotions which makes this hotel an even better deal. I was lucky to have booked through the Le Club 40% off Asia Pacific earlier this year it was a steal for the total of AUD525 for 4nights I paid for. A note too that the hotels in Melbourne have implemented the credit card surcharge of 1.5% upon total bill if you pay via credit card upon check out so if you want to avoid that, pay in cash or book an advanced payment deal like I did.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Grand Mercure Hotel Swanston is in the heart of the city, close to restaurants, theatres, nightlife and Melbournes best shopping. The hotel features 200 spacious, well appointed rooms and a restaurant on the 15th floor which overlooks the city centre. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Swanston Hotel, Grand Mercure Hotel Melbourne
- The Swanston Hotel Grand Accor