For years, Melbourne has scored highly on liveability tests – now, it’s developing a reputation for business, too. No longer overshadowed by bossy Sydney, Australia’s second-largest city is beginning to assert itself as a place for serious deal-making. All the ingredients are in place: there’s the easily navigable CBD, exceptional inner-city transport infrastructure, and a cafe scene that rivals those in Europe’s most sophisticated capitals. Arm yourself with knowledge of the city’s best meeting spots and most convenient services and you’ll find that Melbourne can be a business destination par excellence.
BEST PLACE FOR A BUSINESS BREAKFAST
The suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne’s inner north – just minutes from the CBD by foot or tram – is full of stylish, atmospheric cafes, but none offers the same combination of history and charm as Marios. A neighbourhood mainstay for 30 years, the cafe feels calm even when full, making it an ideal spot for early-morning discussion or creative thinking. The well-judged, all-day breakfast menu, powerful coffee, and intuitive staff all help create a productive environment for those hoping to do business. Or, if you’re dining alone, the stools at the window bar provide excellent people-watching.
303 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy; marioscafe.com.au
BEST PLACE FOR A LUNCHTIME MEETING
The Roving Marrow
You’re in Melbourne, one of the world’s undisputed food capitals, so there’s no point having a business lunch if it’s not delicious and a little bit unusual. The buzzy Roving Marrow takes the Chinese yum cha concept and applies it to mod-Oz cuisine, serving trolley-loads of inventive small plates (think hen’s eggs with shiitake mushrooms and chicken with apricots and Asian greens) alongside more substantial dishes. If you and your guest are getting along well, there are ample opportunities to share (grab some Mt Zero olives with vanilla and lemon), or, if the meeting’s a bust, simply wave away the dessert trolley. The Lygon Street location is close – but not too close – to all the CBD action.
418 Lygon Street, Carlton; theastorcarlton.com.au
The standard of coffee in central Melbourne is uniformly high, and you’ll rarely need to walk further than a block to find a purveyor. But for caffeine connoisseurs in search of a particularly memorable experience, it’s worth venturing over to the “non-business” side of the CBD for a brew at 65 Degrees. This cult cafe roasts small batches of beans on site and always has at least five single-origin varieties in play. Although the coffee is the star, there’s also consistently excellent food on offer, including all-day breakfast and a lauded tiramisu. Comfortable seating and extended trading hours (the cafe opens from 6am to 4pm on weekdays) make 65 Degrees particularly well-suited to business pow-wows.
309 Exhibition Street, City; 65degreescafe.com
BEST CO-WORKING SPACE
Melbourne’s newer co-working spaces are predominantly membership-only, but the city’s longest-running co-working venture, Inspire9, welcomes one-day visitors. The team in charge of this bright and airy space in Richmond (just north-east of the CBD) champion diversity and operate an anyone’s-welcome policy, which means you’re just as likely to be sitting next to a freelance designer as you are a corporate heavyweight. The usual facilities, including meeting rooms, are well maintained, and the Friday night drinks on site are lively and provide great networking opportunities.
41 Stewart Street, Richmond; inspire9.com
The Grand Hyatt’s in-house health and fitness centre, which is available to casual visitors as well as hotel guests, is Melbourne’s best gym by a substantial margin. All the usual equipment is here, of course, alongside a pool, sauna and steam room. But it’s the extra facilities, such as the golf nets and rooftop tennis court, that really set the place apart. Booking personal trainers for one-off sessions is simple, and there are frequent group classes. The Grand Hyatt’s beauty treatment rooms are also housed within the gym, so combining a workout with a massage or facial is simple. The Collins Street location is easy to reach from all parts of the CBD.
123 Collins Street, City; melbourne.grand.hyatt.com
Captains of Industry
Savvy businessmen have been getting trimmed at this multi-purpose CBD space (it also houses a cafe and men’s clothing section) for years. But hairdresser Sam Fordyce is just as adept at women’s cuts and blow-drys, and delights in exceeding new customers’ expectations. Efficiency is the keyword at Captains of Industry: Fordyce values his clients’ time and proceeds accordingly. Despite the no-nonsense attitude, the atmosphere remains relaxed – and with a cafe downstairs, pairing your treatment with coffee or a sandwich is simple. Because Fordyce works alone, advance bookings are recommended.
2 Somerset Place, City; captainsofindustry.com