Oakwood Premier Melbourne stands out in Southbank

Country

Australia

City

Melbourne

Hotel

Oakwood Premier Melbourne

Notes

The Good
  • Spacious apartment suited to a long stay
  • Well-equipped in-room kitchen
  • Enormous club lounge, albeit light on amenities
The Bad
  • Very slow WiFI with high pricing for faster speed
  • No access to local TV unless streaming from your phone
X-Factor
  • Rooftop sky bar opening in June is sure to become a city hotspot

Introduction

The urban renewal of Melbourne’s Southbank and South Wharf precincts continues with new developments pushing the boundaries of the Victorian capital city ever wider.

Among the latest decorations to the skyline is serviced apartment brand Oakwood Premier, the first in the company’s Premier collection to open in Australia, intended as a more luxurious version of the mid-market Oakwood Hotel in Brisbane.

While business travel continues its post-pandemic resurgence, Executive Traveller stopped in to road-test the new $150 million Southbank showpiece.

Location & Impressions

Oakwood Premier embodies the growth of Melbourne, reflecting the spill that now sees Southbank encroach into the other side of the West Gate Freeway into South Melbourne.

Many relics of the area’s working-class lineage remain here and while the city is certain to continue expanding in time, right now, Oakwood Premier appears to be on the outside looking in.

Oakwood Premier’s lobby is spacious, with an easy check-in process.

Eventually, this growth will bring with it new restaurants and services that some extended-stay travellers may consider essential, such as a supermarket. Currently, the nearest major one is a 15-minute walk.

That said, if you’re needing the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, it’s a gentle walk under the freeway to the front door. And if your daily destination is deeper in the CBD, the nearest tram stop is just around the corner on Montague Street on the Port Melbourne line.

Room

Oakwood Premier Melbourne features 132 hotel rooms and 260 serviced apartments, each existing in three formats differentiated only by the view you’ll receive.

We checked in to our one-bedroom superior apartment.

Superior rooms are found between levels 7-25; deluxe from 26 to 35 and executive rooms at the summit between 36 and 39. With panoramic views available from virtually every corner of the hotel, consider indulging in a higher room type to elevate your outlook.

After a very fast and efficient check-in, we opened the door to #2012 – a superior one-bedroom apartment on level 20.

The brilliant views are a great way to wake up in the morning.

On entry, the view is immediately captivating. If facing the city, your outlook will feature the Yarra River, while the other side overlooks Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne’s southeast suburbs.

Bathrooms feature a walk-in shower but no bathtub.

Studios and apartments with separate bedrooms include a compact but well-equipped kitchen featuring a sink, two cooktops, a full-size oven, microwave and refrigerator, a dishwasher and enough pots, pans, crockery and cutlery to satiate one or two people. 

If you’re keen to cook, everything you need is supplied.

The bedroom boasts multiple wardrobes and drawers to properly unpack. There’s a reasonably sized desk, a dining table for two and a comfortable sofa in the lounge room ready for your down time.

Don’t forget some washing powder as there’s a front-loading washer/dryer combo within the kitchen ensemble.

The washer and dryer is a handy addition to each apartment.

And if you’re in town for a while, consider getting a load of groceries delivered early in your stay. 

Work

Business travellers are the target for Oakwood Premier and when travel resumes at pre-pandemic levels, corporate guests will find a very spacious retreat at their disposal.

There are several comfortable places a worker can take their laptop if wishing to alternate their scenery. This starts with a colourful 1970s-esque lounge, café / bar in the lobby.

The throwback decor is a nice classic touch.

Alternatively, head up to Level 6 and you’ll find a 22-seat co-working centre with individual tables and an elevated communal bench. Access is open to all guests but must be booked with the hotel in advance.

Oakwood’s co-working centre makes a nice change from your apartment.

This space extends outside to a large balcony with picnic tables – perfect to take your lunch. What you won’t find though is much in the way of provided food and drinks – it’s B.Y.O.

In a neighbouring room is a 12-seat executive boardroom with AV equipment (also needing to be booked), which branches off from an enormous Residents Lounge where guests can unwind.

The Residents Lounge is open to all guests.

Adjacent to the Residents Lounge is a second lounge which is more exclusive, and only open to guests in executive-tiered rooms.

The Executive Lounge sits to the side of the Residents Lounge.

There’s a different vibe to this lounge with a more modern décor. Along with an assortment of armchairs and a 14-seat communal table, there’s self-serve tea and coffee and if you visit between 4-6pm, a rotating menu of canapes and snacks.

As modern and impressive as Oakwood Premier’s business facilities are, our experience with the hotel WiFi was disheartening. Guests can utilise a free service capped at 5Mbps (for up to four devices) or opt for a faster connection of up to 20Mbps by shelling out $20 per day or $50 for a week. A speed test conducted at midday yielded a woeful 2Mbps download rate, so depending on your needs, investing in the premium service may be unavoidable.

Eat

Apartments at Oakwood Premier are set up for guests to self-cater. If you need a few groceries, there’s a convenience store on the ground floor selling essentials, snacks and ready-made meals for one.

Fifth Restaurant has limited hours, so make good use of it while it’s open.

For a more gourmet dining experience, Fifth Restaurant on – you guessed it – the fifth floor is your home for buffet breakfast from 6:30-10am daily. Outside these hours, Fifth offers an excellent Modern Australian menu with Express Lunch options on weekdays and dinner from Thursday to Saturday.

Fifth Restaurant is bright and nicely decorated.

It’s likely the limited restaurant hours are due to endemic staffing issues currently affecting the entire restaurant industry and as more workers join the team, the restaurant may extend its hours and open on more days.  

The evening selection features familiar home-style favourites including a tempting penne bolognese which, while small, was moreish and well paired with a recommended glass of Oakridge Pinot from the nearby Yarra Valley.

The penne bolognaise was loaded with flavour.

While business travel continues to recover in Melbourne, the hotel was far from full during our stay, resulting in no wait to secure a table for dinner nor to access the buffet during breakfast service.

Relax

Oakwood has set aside a communal games room for guests to indulge in some leisure time, with a dual-player video game along with what the hotel says is Victoria’s only publicly available full-size snooker table.

Bring a colleague or a friend for a game of snooker.

The bubble-gum-blue 1,200 kilogram apparatus was assembled on-site and is made of six 200kg slabs of slate and Australian oak. Free to use (if you can find a willing opponent) cues, racks and billiard balls can be found in cupboards to the side.

Jump on a variety of machines to tick off your daily workout.

If your down time involves breaking a sweat, the hotel fitness centre features a wide range of cardio machines including treadmills, a step machine and weights rack, all of which can be enjoyed with wraparound views of the city and Port Phillip Bay.

The Verdict

There’s no doubt Oakwood Premier is an impressive property and is ready to fill with guests once the corporate travel market returns to its former gusto – and it’s getting there.

The hotel is shining top to bottom, corner to corner and undoubtedly a spacious home-away-from-home for any traveller, whether in town for business or leisure.

At night, Melbourne’s skyline comes to life.

While something definitely needs to be done about the WiFi speed and accessibility, all the facilities needed are either at hand or not far away. Whether or not you’d like to go out and get them is another matter.

Matt Lennon stayed as a guest of Oakwood Premier.

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