The world’s grandest hotels all have one thing in common. You know you have ‘ arrived’ from the moment you enter the driveway. It’s not only the sheer scale of the lobby; it’s that sense of occasion that reinforces you made the right choice for your stay. Even before the first ‘Bonjour’, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins reassures you that you did.
Sofitel Hotels and Resorts is the first international luxury hotel brand from France. Its brand message, “Live the French way”, is more than merely social media speak; it is a promise.
Living the French way is to embrace art de Vivre – the art of living. It is the way les Français – choose to live – a mix of savoir-faire and joie de vivre.
The brand is quite different from its competitors in the luxury segment. Theirs is an approach that is both alluring and timeless. Nothing bold screams “look at me” (or is that moi?). Instead, staying at the Sofitel is a subtle opulence; luxury without overt extravagance.
The Sofitel Melbourne on Collins has just undergone a $15m refurbishment to make each of the new luxurious guest rooms more like a Parisian apartment than a Melbourne hotel room.
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins has you from the first moment you enter that sweeping driveway and look up at the glazed space frame that crowns Collins Place. The late I.M. Pei was one of the world’s foremost Modernist architects. This design, reminiscent of his Louvre Pyramid central court, not only grabs your attention, but the all-weather roof also prevents a soggy start to your stay.
Bow-tied attendants greet each guest with a friendly ‘bonjour’ as they open your uber door. Yes, we are indeed at the Paris end of Collins St.
You take the escalator to the majestic lobby as your bags are collected. The space has a certain old-world grandeur and air of old-world refinement. You know you have arrived. It’s home to Sofi’s Lounge and two enormous, striking wall tapestries. Marie Cook designed Pink Heath, and Wattle and the hotel commissioned the Australian Tapestry Workshop works in 1979.
Take the lift to the 35th floor, and the Gallic lilt to the elevator greeting reaffirms you are indeed in a French hotel. Here is the breakfast and dinner restaurant no 35, the Sofitel Club, and Atrium Bar on 35. The gold mirrored and draped Atrium soars to the 50th floor.
Sofitel has collaborated with the Global Art Projects (GAP) since 2006 on its visual art programme. As part of the recent refurbishment, GAP has created a joint photographic project between Australian photographer Jon Rendell and Parisian photographer Claire Ropartz that features over 2,000 artworks celebrating the relationship between Melbourne and, in particular, the Paris end of Collins Street and Paris.
Celebrating the art de Vivre and the architectural Sympatico between the two cities brought an’ Australian’ to Paris and the ‘Parisian’ photographing in Melbourne. Each of the 360 guest rooms features colour photography of both cities day and night.
Sustainability with a capital S
The Sofitel Melbourne on Collins has been working on their green credentials too.
Rooms and suites are all paperless. Instead, there’s a Tapendium (tablet) ordering system in every room, and Nespresso pods are collected, and Nespresso recycle them (strip the aluminium, compost the used ground coffee). Meanwhile, Used soap bars are collected and donated to “Soap Aid”, which melts the soup and distributes it to needy communities. Recycling breaks down textiles like old pillows, duvets, mattress toppers and uniforms.
In the hotel’s kitchens and dining rooms, the environmental push has gained even more momentum with a WasteMaster system that converts organic waste into biofuel on-site and a glass crusher on-site to reduce the volume of recyclable waste.
At No35, oyster shells are collected, washed and stored. Later they are sent off to help rebuild the reef in Port Phillip Bay. The property also banned Styrofoam from all of their supplies (which means their Seafood supplier uses reusable tubs. The hotel also works with local communities to create Sustainability Lunch menus and track each menu’s estimated Co2kg emissions.
As many hotels tout their environmental friendliness, it seems the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins is the now the Tesla of Australian hotels; Clean, green and serene.
Charged with the style overhaul A+ Design Group was inspired by I.M. Pei’s regular use of strong triangular geometry; it is evident in the new furnishings from bedside tables to cabinets and new wool carpeting that celebrates the triangle too.
The signature item is the curvy chair and footstool upholstered in a regal, French blue velvet. There is a desk for work and a dining table for six in our Premium Suite. The Taittinger and macarons keep the joie de vivre alive as dusk turns to night and the city starts to light up.
The views are second to none on the 46th floor with floor-to-ceiling windows. Even on a grey day, the outlook is mesmerizing. Stretching from the MCG and Botanic Gardens to Port Phillip Bay, you can play spot the landmark. Then, over to Flinders Street Station, the NGV, the Arts Centre, and the MCG compete for MVP in the sparkle stakes.
It’s all about the pamper in the bedroom with a King-size Sofitel MyBed nearly impossible to escape in the morning. The lavender Air Aroma linen scent completes the ‘sweet dreams picture’. And the indulgence continues with Balmain soaps, shampoos and lotion in the well-designed and lively marble-tiled bathroom.
Eat, drink and enjoy life
The joie de vivre continues on level 35. How better to start the day than with a relaxed 3-course breakfast? Only hotel guests can sample top-notch buffet items from cereals to fruit, petite chia puddings or individual bircher muesli. Chefs will make an omelette, eggs your way or waffles to order. Finish with fresh pastries and real coffee made to order – at no extra charge. But the sunny morning beams through the windows nearly as widely as the serving staff.
A guaranteed window package at dinner includes a welcome cocktail at the nearby Atrium on 35, chefs amuse-bouche, a three-course dinner at No35 with a glass of Taittinger Champagne on arrival, and bottled still or sparkling water followed by coffee or tea. Well worth the indulgence.
A Sofitel stay always offers more. Its unmistakably French DNA guarantees a level of comfort and ease that you don’t find at other luxury hotels. So many small details add up to make you feel new again.
Disclaimer: This Magnificent Life was Sofitel Melbourne on Collins guests.