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The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – Introduction
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne is the newest luxury hotel rising above the city’s skyline. Located within the city’s central business district, the hotel is Australia’s tallest, occupying the first three floors and the top 17 floors of an 80-floor building. Within walking distance of the iconic Yarra River, the hotel is adorned with stylish décor and bespoke furnishings, with floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides. The stunning views from the 80th-floor Sky lobby reception help connect this ultra-luxury property with the vibrant culture of the city around it. In addition to the 257 suites on the property, the hotel offers the following amenities;
- Ten sophisticated event paces
- Signature restaurant – Atria
- Signature Bar – Cameo
- Sky Lobby Lounge
- The Ritz-Carlton Club
- Spa, Sauna, Vitality Pools, and Yoga space
This review is part of a series covering my trip from Canada to Australia, with a hop over in Abu Dhabi;
Review – Etihad A350 Business Class from Chicago to Abu Dhabi
Review – Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Review – Ritz-Carlton Melbourne
Review – Qantas Business Lounge Melbourne (Domestic)
Review – Qantas A330 Business Class from Melbourne to Sydney
Review – Park Hyatt Sydney
ANA Business Class Meal Extravaganza: A 22-Hour Culinary Journey
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – Booking
A standard Deluxe room at the hotel can range between ~500-1000 AUD depending on the season or between ~55,000 – 80,000 Bonvoy points. As a lowly Gold Elite member with Bonvoy, I booked a Marriott Stars rate (through an authorized agent) to guarantee myself a complimentary breakfast, an upgrade, and guaranteed late check-out. For a one-night stay in April 2023, I paid a cash rate of AUD 480, which included the following benefits;
- Early Check-in
- 4:00 pm Late check-out
- Complimentary breakfast for two
- Room Upgrade
- AUD 150 hotel credit (incidental spend)
- Welcome Amenity, with a personalized note from GM
- Access to hotel Concierge service
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – Arrival and Check-in
Our Uber dropped us off, according to the address in the app, on Lonsdale Street. It turned out that the hotel’s driveway is tucked between the two towers and not very evident to unsuspecting drivers. After a short stroll around the bend, we were greeted by the Ritz-Carlton staff at the driveway, who helped us find the main doors. The team at the ground floor foyer welcomed us to the property. It confirmed that the hotel had officially opened its doors to guests only two weeks ago – the taxi drivers, including Uber/Google Maps, were still figuring out the exact drop-off and pick-up spots for the hotel. We were offered bottles of water and a towel to freshen up as the staff explained the “setup of the hotel.”
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne has a unique setup: the Arrivals lobby is on the ground floor, the main reception and check-in area is on the 80th floor, and the guest rooms are between floors 68-78. This means all guests are brought up to the Sky Lobby reception on the 80th floor using a set of elevators and then must use a separate set of elevators to go down to access the guest rooms. This works well to segment the casual visitors to the restaurants and bar, located on the 80th floor, with the hotel guests who access their rooms through dedicated elevators.
The arrivals lobby on the ground floor is a beautiful foyer with several pieces of artwork that demand attention, a custom chandelier, and plenty of seating space to relax and enjoy the area while you enjoy the RC hospitality.
The staff in the arrivals lobby ushered us from the ground floor to the Sky lobby reception on the 80th. The elevators open to stunning views of Hobsons Bay in the background, with the grey marble-clad reception desks upfront. The Ritz-Carlton Lobby Lounge is located just behind the reception desk and was a beautiful distraction, with its floor-to-ceiling windows flaunting the city of Melbourne and water views.
During check-in, the staff confirmed an upgraded room (from Deluxe to Premier) on the 75th floor, with city/mountain views and all the perks mentioned above that came with the Marriott Stars rate. While I politely enquired about a room with a harbour view, the staff recommended that I keep the city/mountain views and enjoy the harbour views from the lobby lounge for our one-night stay. She remarked that the sun was about to set in a couple of hours, and there wasn’t much ‘of a view’ once dark. However, the city lights were more dramatic after sunset from the mountain-facing rooms. I took her up on the suggestion and kept our assigned room, 7507. But first, the views from the lobby lounge!
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – The RC Lounge
The lobby lounge is an all-day dining establishment and the crown jewel with panoramic views of the city and the harbour. Unsurprisingly the lounge was bustling with conversations and guests soaking in the sights with hand-mixed cocktails and bite-sized food to accompany them. The floor-to-ceiling windows wrapped around the entire floor, offering a neverending view from each seating table.
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – Premier King Room 7507
We made our way down to floor 75 using a separate set of elevators tucked away from the main elevators on the 80th floor. The elevator lobby was just as engaging with its decor and the right mix of playful and contemporary art on the walls.
Premier King Room 7507 is a 550 sq ft living/sitting area with a King Bed, dining area, a working desk, walk-in closet, and a spacious bath with double vanity. The room was well-appointed and packed with many amenities without crowding the living space. The long foyer of the room offered access to a walk-in closet on the left, a full bath to the right, and opened into the main living and sleeping area, which overlooked the city and mountains in the distance. The high floor-to-ceiling windows accentuate the room’s luxury, and the extended sofa and seat offer the perfect spot to soak in the setting/rising sun. The niche brand amenities in the room (local and Australian) perfectly complement the luxurious space for our short stay.
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – Atria Breakfast
Atria is the signature restaurant at Ritz Melbourne, which serves seasonal contemporary Australian fare for dinner service. It is also the venue for breakfast during the day. Breakfast is served 7 am-10 am on weekdays and seven am-Noon on weekends. I was glad we had booked a table for our breakfast (recommended during check-in), as it was packed within minutes of our arrival. The restaurant seating is beautifully set against the large windows, letting in plenty of natural light. I particularly loved the long table with single seats and lamps, which made for a perfect spot for a quiet breakfast overlooking the city views.
The complimentary breakfast included an entree and a drink only, which was restrictive for a luxury brand, in my opinion. I opted for the Omelet of the day with grilled Halloumi with spiced honey. In contrast, my partner opted for cold Museli and some sides, as they were the only Vegan options on the menu – disappointing. The plating and presentation of the food, however, were top-notch.
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – Other hotel amenities
The evening we checked in, we hosted some family and friends at Cameo, the signature bar that prides itself on the art of mixology and rare vintages. The bar is perched on the 80th floor across from the Lobby Lounge, overlooking the Yarra river and Melbourne. We sampled several hand-crafted cocktails and small bites but, unfortunately, did not take too many pictures.
While we did not get a chance to experience the Spa on this trip, I loved the pool on the 64th floor. The infinity pool with beach loungers and plenty of green offers a natural outdoor vibe, all while soaking in the city and harbour views from the 64th floor.
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – Poor Service Standards
Don’t get me wrong, the Ritz-Carlton Melbourne is a stunning property, but one I thought was struggling with staff training and elevating service to the Ritz standards. 2 weeks from the grand opening, several service standard issues popped up during our one-night stay.
- Let’s start with the bathroom drainage issue. Remember, it’s only a two-week-old property, so plumbing should not be an issue, as our bath kept flooding within minutes of use. It turns out housekeeping had never lifted the cover to clean the drain. The puke-inducing picture below is what I found when I fiddled with the drainage cover. Not very Ritz is it?!
We asked for a banana to go to during breakfast, and below is what was served. This overripe, ugly mush was filled with the following comments;
I hope you like your banana as ripe as I do, this is the best I could find in the kitchen
- The same gentleman who brought us the banana had no clue what vegan food was, as they insisted that everything on the menu with ‘V’ against it was vegan. It was not. ‘VG’ was Vegan, ‘V’ vegetarian. Once we corrected him, he offered Halloumi Cheese as a vegan option. Sigh.
- The check-in staff had confirmed a reservation for us at Cameo. However, the Cameo staff could not find our reservation when we arrived with our guests.
Most of these issues seem simple to fix but are symbolic of a team that has yet to imbibe the Ritz-Carlton culture of a high-end establishment that should pride itself in going above and beyond or making its guests feel special. Isn’t that what staying at a top-tier luxury brand is all about?
The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne – TakeAway
Our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Melbourne was good, without being fancy or opulent. The hotel is aesthetically beautiful and welcoming. The Sky Lobby views are stunning and perfect for connecting with friends and family. Our room was deceptively spacious, and I would return in a heartbeat if it were just for the hard product. However, the overall service and breakfast were pretty standard fare, not Ritz-worthy, if that makes sense. I wanted to be wowed by my experience but was left with mixed emotions due to the tepid service standards. As mentioned above, the issues have easy fixes, and I hope the hotel management can notch up the staff training and bring in a culture where guests are made to feel special through small interactions.