There was a very pleasant surprise as we closed the door to enter our luxurious apartment – it immediately felt homey. For the next two nights we were calling this splendid, two-bedroom corner apartment at Shadow Play by Peppers Melbourne home. So very new, with views for miles, the stylish, comfortable apartment hotel is the perfect base to both relax and enjoy the best of Melbourne.
First impressions can be deceptive. Bordering the CBD, Shadow Play by Peppers is a brand, spanking-new skyscraper that is part of the modern South Melbourne. And yes, the towering building’s windows do play with shadows via its distinctive use of glass and its surrounds.
The blink and you’ll miss it door on City Road bears the Edwin Wine Bar and Cellar moniker. A slightly mysterious, all-black, ground floor entry and reception is surprising. A red, neon lit ‘Edwin’ is splashed while the reception area is decidedly low-key. There’s lemon water and sangria refreshments near the front desk where Olivia greets us warmly.
Olivia let’s us know our room isn’t quite ready so we retreat to the bar. She’s organising the best room in the house, so who are we to say no. It’s post-lunch and too early for evening cocktails so we’re the only punters at Edwin’s bar. A glass or two of the excellent King Valley’s Range Life Prosecco sets the mood for a very chill couple of days.
On the corner where the CBD meets South Melbourne, the surrounding streets are more commercial than residential. If the siren call of the casino is too strong it’s only a 3 minute walk to Crown’s 24/7 glitz. A short walk on City Road leads to the Melbourne Convention Centre and South Wharf’s restaurants, bars and DFO for a spot of therapy – retail style. South Melbourne Markets is a leisurely 10 minute stroll for fabulous produce, elegant pastries and sensational cheese to pair with your stellar mini-bar wine.
On the 9th and final hotel floor (Shadow Play by Peppers is also home to full-time residents), the views are quite something. Stepping out onto the wrap-around balcony, there’s a winter garden but come summer this could be party-central. THE spot for evening tipples as the sun calls it a day and Melbourne starts to sparkle.
The kitchen is equipped with dishwasher, full fridge, cook top, oven and microwave with a hideaway washer/dryer. Timber, cool greys and blues with an all-white kitchen on one wall is homely and stylish all at the same time. Only opened in May 2019, there’s a new hotel freshness to it all.
There’s Foxtel on all three TV’s so you can catch up on your stories from your dreamy bed or the lounge. Bathrooms seem on the small side but then you discover the hidden drawer and medicine cabinet for stashing your gear. Bathrobes are plush and the Appelles amenities an all-time favourite.
An unforgettable mini-bar
You don’t usually get to wax lyrical about the mini-bar, especially at an apartment hotel. But Shadow Play by Peppers isn’t like other apartment hotels. From the first, the hotel and Edwin Wine Bar have worked with Revel Global and Pinot Palooza’s Dan Sims. Together with Edwin Wine Bar and Cellar’s Executive Chef Ritesh Patel and sommelier Yu Kurosawa the trio have designed a Victorian-centric approach from the restaurant to the mini-bar.
This means no 187ml bottles of big (read cheap) brand wines in the mini-bar. No Toblerones or Cherry Ripes either. Just all quality, home-grown Victorian bites and drinks. Juices and snacks from Emma & Tom’s, Hunted & Gathered and Loving Earth Chocolates, Patient Wolf Gin and more. BoatRocker Beer, Holly’s Garden Sparkling, Fairbank Shiraz, Nikkal Pinot Noir and the list goes on. Why would you ever leave?
Edwin Wine Bar and Cellar
Is it a wine bar? Is it a restaurant? Can it be both? Yes, yes and yes. Next to reception, Edwin Wine Bar and Cellar is kind of like a reverse mullet; that’s the hair style not the fish. It’s all party up front with the bar the first thing you spot with tables and chairs tucked in to your left.
Edwin is derived from the obsolete Old English Eadwine, a compound name composed of the elements ēad (prosperity, fortune, riches) and wine (friend): hence, “wealthy friend.” So next time someone you know says ‘wine is my friend’ they’ve been correct all along.
The Victorian-only menu, wine and drink lists certainly cuts down on the food miles. These lists are also gender neutral: 50% of the wine and spirit makers are female. Absolute gems here too. We started dinner with a seriously good Crawford River 2018 ‘Young Vines’ Riesling. The Pinot? A 2016 Curly Flat ‘Williams Crossing’ from cool climate Macedon and the glorious Pennyweight Gamay from Beechworth was lightly chilled. All three made by women.
We put our palates in the hands of Chef Ritesh Patel and he didn’t put a step wrong. Dinner for us was a multi-course feast to share. We whetted our appetites with zucchini flowers with ricotta, lemon and bottarga to Port Philip Sardines crowned with dark Rye, raisins and shallot to a sublime match of Portland Kingfish with passionfruit.
Next up the Large Plates – tender slow-cooked Gippsland lamb with smoked Labne and saltbush, Great Ocean Road Duck cassoulet and Victorian Infinity barramundi that was crackling crisp with pippies, autumn sprouts and a damned fine prosciutto broth.
It seems as every new dining space opens that the press release bangs on about how the chef is sourcing local. Edwin Wine Bar and Cellar has gone way beyond that. Victorian producers and diners are both winners with the best of the Garden State on show daily here.
What is it that makes some hotels work better than others? Location? Comfort? Amenities? In-house restaurant? Undoubtedly, Shadow Play by Peppers gets a big tick for all of these. Who would have known it also wins as your new, Melbourne home away from home?
DISCLAIMER: TML were Shadow Play by Peppers guests.