In the course of my work as a travel writer this year, I’ve stayed in 59 hotels in seven countries (as well as some islands that should almost count as countries on their own). Do all those hotels start to look the same? Not at all, although I confess to sometimes waking and wondering where I am (even at home!).
My wandering around the world this year meant staying in (and usually writing about) hotels in Belgium, Poland, Austria, England and the Channel Islands, France, Thailand and of course around Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, the Whitsundays, and Brisbane), and Norfolk Island.
I’ve written before about the things I like about hotels – and the things I don’t like! And this year’s swag of hotels was a mixed bag too, so it was great to finish the year on a high note at one of Melbourne’s luxury apartment hotels, a place that ticked many boxes for me.
Treasury on Collins has a terrific location on leafy Collins Street in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD and what I loved about it most was a fine attention to detail and small touches that made it stand out from other hotels.
It started at check-in, where a giant bell sat on the reception counter; not that it was needed as there were plenty of staff on hand to greet arriving guests.
The welcome continued when we walked into our apartment, with a hand-written message on the mirror (not in lipstick like you see in the movies, but effective anyway).
There were more fun surprises to uncover too: a Rubik’s Cube to play with (and the chance to win prizes if you completed it successfully); a noughts-and-crosses game; carefully chosen magazines to browse through; and lovely ornaments.
The suites and apartments are a good size (the smallest at 40 square metres), each with a fully-equipped kitchen, including a Nespresso machine. I was very impressed to find a recycling bin (complete with instructions) in the cupboard under the kitchen sink.
The small touches continue in the bathroom, with cute ceramic ducks, a cheeky invitation to run a bath, a splash of greenery and lovely Molton Brown toiletries.
In the bedroom, there was a pillow menu (four choices) and a feather topper on the bed that ensured a great sleep (but if you prefer a firmer mattress, just ask and it will be removed). The only criticism I had of our stay was the tight squeeze on one side of the bed – not even enough space for a bedside table to be placed on that side. It might be fine for a solo traveller, but not for a couple. However, as each suite or apartment is a slightly different lay-out, this is probably the exception rather than the rule.
On the plus side, our Heritage Balcony Suite had a small wrap-around balcony overlooking Collins Street (only some rooms have views of the surrounding streets, so check when you book).
Treasury on Collins was built in 1876 as the Bank of Australasia, during the boom time when the Victorian capital was known as “Marvellous Melbourne”. It’s a beautiful classical Renaissance Revival five storey building, constructed of Oamaru stone, imported from New Zealand.
One of the historical stories I learned – and loved most – while staying here was that of innovative bank manager Edmund Parkes. In 1887, Parkes bought a Remington typewriter for the bank and hired a woman called Mary Swift to operate it. She was the first woman employed by the bank, and reportedly the board of directors was not happy with Parkes’ decision – they also criticised him for wasting money on new-fangled inventions like electric lights.
The bank sold the building in 1974, and it has been an apartment hotel ever since. If you’re interested in the building’s history, there’s a self-guided tour pamphlet in your apartment that will point out things like a massive brass front doors (to keep out those pesky bank robbers in the 1880s) and the old bank teller windows in the Bank Restaurant.
As we were staying in December, we didn’t get the chance to try out the restaurant, which was solidly booked with pre-Christmas functions. There’s also an option for online pick-up ordering from the restaurant but we opted instead to head out to the nearby Block Arcade for a quick meal after a busy day out.
Breakfast-time gave an opportunity to check out the mezzanine floor, which is also used as a guest lounge (10am to 7pm), offering free tea, coffee, juices, water, and snacks. In the afternoon, from 4pm to 6pm, there’s also a “wine down” (free if you have booked directly with the hotel). The mezzanine also has a small book exchange library, newspapers, and a pool table.
Another nice touch is the coat of arms shown throughout the mezzanine floor, which represents the strong ties the bank had with the shipping and sheep grazing industries. It also helped explain one of the cutest do-not-disturb signs I’ve seen in a while.
All in all, there’s a lot to love about Treasury on Collins. It’s a fine example of what independent hotels can do with a bit of imagination and flair. Did I mention the free Netflix, unlimited high-speed WiFi and in-room laundry? And the easy way to become a “treasured guest” is to book direct with the hotel, for a host of terrific perks.
A Glass Half Full stayed as a guest of Treasury on Collins.