With a heated rooftop pool, this 5-star venue ramps it up

Novel selling point The first five-star hotel in the Docklands, it’s also the first five-star hotel on the map when driving into the city from Tullamarine Airport. When time is money, it’s handy not having to wind through congested inner-city streets before you can log on in the comfort of your room. Life & Leisure calculated its location shaved about 15 minutes off the usual trip from the airport into town. Limousine transfers can be arranged for $145 from the airport to the hotel and $125 back to the airport.

On the downside The location is entirely another matter when you have CBD meetings early the next day or a theatre show or gallery visit in town. If you don’t mind a leisurely 15- to 20-minute walk along the harbour foreshore, then up Bourke Street into the city proper – or over to Southbank – this is a great location, albeit it’s on the outskirts of the main action.

If you’re late getting out of bed, complimentary city loop trams stop every six minutes or so about 50 metres from the hotel on Docklands Drive.

Sunset House by the rooftop pool is the perfect spot for a cocktail or Spritz with a Moreton Bay bug brioche roll. Nicole England

Most exciting feature? The 28-metre wet-edge rooftop infinity pool, complete with sunken loungers and pool service. It’s billed as Melbourne’s only outdoor heated hotel pool, and is open from 6am to 9pm. The view isn’t half bad up there either, stretching over the city skyline and taking in Bolte Bridge, Port Phillip Bay and Hobsons Bay. The rooftop pool bar Sunset House is a perfect dusk option, with a range of botanical cocktails.

Be warned, word has got around. The pool is for guests only, but it’s already packed on weekends with the staycation set.

Biggest surprise? The quality of the food on offer in Archer’s restaurant on the ground floor (it’s open for breakfast and dinner). The food offerings in chain hotels can be less than thrilling, even at the five-star properties. Not Archer’s. Helmed by the local Peter Rowland Group (which does the David Jones food halls and Melbourne Cup Carnival among other premier events), Archer’s specialises in local produce plated up in dishes such as roast cone bay barramundi with broad bean, spring vegetables and lemon jam; and Southern Highland lamb rump with potato gratin, soubise and piperade (both dishes $42).

Head chef Alex Drobysz oversees daily operations, bringing Michelin-star experience with the Maze London and Lumiere Vancouver on his CV.

The restaurant design is sharp, with a vault-like ceiling, comfortable banquette seating and plenty of natural light.

Archer’s restaurant has vaulted ceilings and an accomplished menu. 

Good coffee in-house? Affirmative. The hotel brews Melbourne’s St. Ali in all coffee outlets. The Corsia cart (located outside Archer’s restaurant) channels the Melbourne laneway coffee vibe.

My room L&L stayed in a 49-square-metre M Club room (on the 8th floor) with a king-sized bed, deep-soak bathtub, generous entry and wardrobe area and separate lounge and table/desk areas. The room screams: “A touch of state-of-the-art luxury for the corporate/bleisure traveller looking for an elevated landing pad.”

What is on offer in the neighbourhood? The key attraction in our view is the multipurpose Marvel Stadium, less than 10 minutes’ walk away. Marvel hosts everything from pop concerts to AFL games. Teen alert: Justin Bieber’s World Justice Tour is coming up from November 26. There are also plenty of fun dining options along the boardwalk, which lights up at night.

Tubs with views help unwind after a long day in the Executive M Club rooms. 

The Australian Cartoon Museum and Fox Classic Car Collection are two of a growing number of attractions, plus shopping precincts. For bleisure travellers, a growing number of corporates are moving to the Docklands.

It’s fun to walk or jog around the harbour precinct, and reception can recommend some good routes.

How does the pricing compare? Rooms range from $250 a night for an entry-level Deluxe Room, to M Club rooms from $445. The average nightly rate for comparable “luxury and upper upscale” hotels in the Melbourne city area is $270, according to STR property data.

In short, how excited should I be about this hotel? Look, it’s not The Ritz. Nor is it going to change Melbourne as we know it. We probably wouldn’t propose here, let’s put it that way. But this is a solid, very pleasing five-star workhorse Marriott with plenty of frills, design pops and wonderful attention to detail, giving it a warm, friendly, well-cared-for feel. It’s also got the simple but compelling attraction of being new, and the staff are energised and keen to please.

The large-scale art installations also really lift this property, with huge polished brass chains by Australian sculptor Alexander Knox echoing cinched sailcloth suspended in sweeping parabolas throughout the lobby.

The writer stayed as a guest of the Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands.

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