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Be tempted by dazzling Melbourne

With its beautiful mosaic floor and glass canopy, the heritage listed Block Arcade is a Melbourne institution.
With its beautiful mosaic floor and glass canopy, the heritage listed Block Arcade is a Melbourne institution. Contributed

A RECENT survey – and my, there are a lot of them – showed Melbourne to be the world's second most liveable city (after Vancouver).

I disagree. It should be the world's top most liveable city.

I lived there for more than 30 years before I came to Queensland and now, on every visit, its appeal grows, especially now that I see it through the eyes of a tourist.

At this time of year, the weather is mild and people are out on the streets in their summer gear jostling for a place on the wide footpaths. Glamorous people are everywhere, rushing about with mobiles to their ears, packing the footpath cafes.

We stayed at Novotel on Collins, right in the heart of the city, where we could walk out of the hotel door and into all the allure of Collins Street. A right turn and a few steps had us outside Block Arcade, a heritage shopping arcade of stately elegance. It connects Collins Street to Little Collins Street and its l-shape means it also connects with Elizabeth Street.

The site was bought for just 18 pounds in 1891 and the Block Arcade was modelled on the same design as the famous Galleria Vittoria in Milan. Its beautiful mosaic floor and glass canopy makes it quintessential, heritage Melbourne. You feel gorgeous walking into its sophistication.

Block Arcade is home to Hopetoun Tea Rooms, a Melbourne institution serving morning and afternoon teas just as it did 100 years ago. The window is filled with luscious quiches and cakes. Inside against a backdrop of dramatically patterned wallpaper, Melbourne society ladies sit at marble-topped tables nibbling on…we couldn't quite see from our position staring longingly through the window…but we like to think it was dainty pinwheel sandwiches.

Haigh Chocolates in the Block Arcade draws you in with its exquisite hand made chocolates... and then there are the shoe shops. New season shoes and boots beckon from gorgeously displayed windows. Ankle boots in leopard print with sky-high heels; black leather boots with faux fur turn-downs; thigh-high boots you want to pull on and be like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman; sexy stilettos with more bling than even P. Diddy could want.

When all the temptation got too much, we scurried the few steps back to our Premier Room and flopped into the designer Heerman Miller Eames Lounge chair and Ottoman to watch a movie on the large-screen television. The chair and ottoman were first released in 1956 after years of development by designers for the Herman Miller furniture company.

Novotel's Premier Rooms have floor-to-ceiling glass walls with atrium views looking down on Australian on Collins shopping centre... more temptations just outside.


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