We booked this hotel based mostly on information gathered from Tripadvisor. (Our concerns included price, location, laundry facilities, internet access, parking availability and breakfast availability.) Overall, we were satisfied, but there were both positives and negatives about our stay.
Melbourne was our stop after a week-long road trip along the Great Ocean Road. So, we needed a hotel with a place to park the car. After all of the driving, we were interested in a place to just leave the car parked and walk or take public transit to sight-see; the Central Business District (CBD) was a clear choice for that convenience. We also preferred to have internet access (in our room, not just in public spaces), breakfast available (with a plus for being included in the price), and a guest laundry (or even a laundromat nearby, instead of a hotel-run laundry service).
We decided upon Alto on Bourke and booked a rate directly through their website that included parking in the rate and a cooked breakfast (which we looked forward to, since we found this to be a rarity at the hotels we stayed at on our roadtrip; if breakfast was available, it could cost up to $15 AUD [!] for a continental breakfast of dubious quality). Upon check-in (on Christmas Eve), we were informed that the next two days were public holidays so that no cooked breakfast would be provided (only continental). I checked my notes (I always make a print-out of the confirmations from hotels, airlines, etc. when I'm traveling) and saw that their booking confirmation specifically mentioned a cooked breakfast, to which they claimed that we should have been informed upon booking about the holidays. Obviously, they had not put up this notice before I booked, and they gave a lackluster response about "we can see about some sort of refund". I wasn't impressed by this response, and was a little put off by their claim about how I should have been informed during booking, since I clearly hadn't been. So, we emptied the car and loaded into the room (no luggage carts in the hotel, but an elevator just through the main entrance helped). I was a little miffed by the check-in experience, but I am happy to report that everything from that point on was good to great.
Price: we paid $138 AUD for two of our three nights and $158 for the last (Boxing Day). The price seemed reasonable given that parking, wifi and a cooked breakfast were included. We stayed in a queen room (not an apartment), which was small but as much a space as we needed. We did quite a bit of packing and repacking of our bags, folding laundry, etc. but we were able to pull it off in the space allotted. I appreciated the mini-kitchenette (microwave, fridge, decent size-sink, plenty of plates and utensils), and we made use of it on Christmas Day when few places seemed open to serve food. It was one of the few hotels on our trip that didn't overload the fridge with expensive minibar items that they wanted to overcharge you for; there was a decent amount of space to fit the few perishables that we bought and drinks we wished to chill. There was only a carafe of chilled water and milk for tea in there, I think, when we checked in. The window looked out on to an alley; we seemed to be in an angled part of the building, but that didn't bother us. There was room for a desk with a comfy office chair (the tv sits on the left side of the desk), and we were able to set up our laptop next to the tv and still have room to work on it.
Location: on the western edge of the CBD, very close to the bus station, which we walked near on several occasions (to window shop, to get groceries at Coles, to get a Slurpee at 7-11). I found that the usual variety of humanity associated with bus travel made an appearance; some people find this to be off-putting or scary, but I was neither off-put nor scared. It's worth a mention, though, for anyone considering staying here. There is a tram stop just outside the hotel door; we never used the tram, but we were pleased to see how easy it would have been. We attended midnight mass at the Catholic church across the street, and a sign posted on the door warned, "bags have been stolen from the church; keep an eye on your bags" (or something to that effect). When a church is warning you about theft, I think it's worth noting!
Laundry: we used the guest laundry to wash several loads. You pay $3 AUD to wash and $2 AUD to dry; each cycle takes 20-30 minutes (as best I can recall; I may have the prices for washes and dries switched). Our laundry needed at least 2 drying cycles to finish. Even so, this was about the mid-range for what we paid to do laundry on our trip. They provide soap powder in the laundry room for guests to use, so I didn't have to use my own supply.
Internet: upon check-in, they asked how many devices we planned to connect to the internet (each requires its own password). We had three devices; I don't know if they have a limit to the number of passwords they will provide. We needed to log in again after a period of being idle, but the internet signal was strong enough for our needs and worked well for us. On a computer-related note, the staff printed our boarding passes for us when we checked-in for our return flight; we brought a memory stick down to the front desk, but you can also email them the file.
Parking: upon check-in, we were given a remote to open the door to the parking lot. The lot is just around the corner, and I believe it is controlled by another local hotel (Vibe?). Due to the locked door, I felt a bit more secure about leaving the car there (vs. on the street); however, we encountered lots of broken glass in the lot (from bottles, not from a car accident or anything), which makes me wonder how rowdy the people who parked there were getting. When we needed to leave, I handled check-out while my husband pulled the car around; we left the car in the loading zone temporarily (as we did upon check-in) to return the remote and were on our way.
Breakfast: as I mentioned earlier, we were disappointed that the public holiday prevented us from receiving our cooked breakfast (since we booked a rate that included it). I didn't even know this was something I should have checked on; I'm sure the staff is more aware of their public holidays than a foreign visitor, like myself, would be. The continental breakfast was nice enough, though; the watermelon was the best pick of the fruit, with strawberries coming in second. The rest of the fresh fruit was lackluster. I ordered french toast and bacon on the day that cooked breakfast was available and it would have been nice to have it on the other days, too. It's a city and I bet there are plenty of options to try if your rate does not include breakfast, but we appreciated the convenience of breakfast at the hotel (a la carte: continental breakfast was $14 AUD and the least expensive cooked dishes were $18 AUD, I think).
Relaxation Room: I came across this room (through a door at the back of the breakfast room) on Christmas. Since we didn't have a lot going on anyway, and since the hotel was pretty quiet, we decided to give the massage chairs a try. They were such a nice treat! We used them again the next day after a day on our feet walking around the CBD; I recommend it!
Staff: aside from the disappointment at check-in, the staff were very friendly and helpful. Charly was a standout. They recommended a variety of restaurants, and considering how highly they spoke of the food at Melbourne Pizza Bar (MPB), I was surprised at how crappy our meal was there. Another restaurant they recommended was fine, though.
Personal touches: I appreciated that there was an umbrella hanging up in our closet for our use (instead of being available to borrow from the desk). I travel with an umbrella, but I know that not everyone does. They have a coffee machine available in the breakfast room for guests to use all day; you can make lattes, hot chocolates, just get hot water for tea, etc. It's coffee from a machine, though, so it's not the greatest. The clock radio has an iPod dock, but we didn't try it out. Note--the toiletries, in keeping with the green initiatives, are not individually bottled (they're in dispensers on the wall), so no stocking up your travel shampoo supply here ;) We never seem to plan enough time to just sit and do nothing while on vacation; if we had, I would have enjoyed the library area toward the back of the breakfast room; it seemed quite cozy.
Be warned that upon booking, I was charged for one complete night's lodging. The policy stated that if I needed to cancel (according to their rules), I would be refunded that money. Of course, upon check out, I was only charged for the remaining two nights of the three night reservation. Just be aware that you not only provide a credit card to hold a reservation, but that it gets charged when you book.
Overall, we appreciated the friendly staff and the amenities offered at this hotel. Once I noticed the difference in price between continental and cooked breakfast, I decided not to attempt a refund (for what? $8/day?), since the rest of the experience between check-in and check-out was pleasant. I'd love to return to Melbourne, and I would certainly consider staying here again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Melbourne's multi-award winning 4 star eco-friendly boutique apartment hotel that is Carbon Neutral, Green Star and Green Globe accredited.Located in the centre of Melbourne city within a 2 minute walk of the airport express shuttle, shopping, train station and free tram zone. Easy walk to major attractions. Features include rooms, studios & apartments, restaurant & bar, library & book exchange with complimentary espresso coffee, car parking, gym access, massage room & free wifi internet. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Alto Hotel Melbourne
- Alto Bourke