We'll hold our hands up and say that we're fans of apartment hotels here at AusBT.
For the business traveller who's happy to swap hotel restaurants and staff for more space and a kitchen, they're a great way to spread out during a business trip.
In Melbourne recently, I took a look at the Citadines on Bourke, one of the city's newest apartment hotels, to see how it matched up to the competition.
Location & Impressions
Don't blink or you'll miss it -- the Citadines has a very small street frontage on the south side of Bourke between Exhibition and Lonsdale.
It's right next to a Bourke St tram stop, so very handy for nipping around the city, and it's a particularly useful hotel for the eastern side of town.
The location is relatively quiet for Melbourne at night-time, though, so you'll want to make sure that you're comfortable with an occasionally sketchy doorway area.
The lobby is behind the ground floor Heirloom restaurant, and is pretty spacious. Staff checked me in swiftly enough, and I was soon up to my one-bedroom apartment.
The room layout is slightly odd in the one-beds. You enter into the kitchen space, with the bathroom, separate toilet and bedroom off a small vestibule to your right:
Ahead of you is the dining/work table and the sofa, with the TV opposite.
I quite liked the style, which reminded me of a lime-and-grey IKEA -- it was a refreshing change from the often drab brown-black-white apartment hotel aesthetic.
The bedroom is absolutely miniscule, which is a real drawback. It's so tiny, in fact, that the hotel recognises this by having your luggage rack out in the main living room.
The beds themselves are a joined-up pair of twins rather than a king, and none too soft. The end result is an irritating lump in the middle.
Top marks for power points by the bedside -- two on each side of the bed, though the ones closest to the door are taken up by the alarm clock and cordless phone. Unplug those and use the tiny bedside tables to plug in your electronic devices.
A spacious and pleasant living room took up most of the floor space in the one-bedroom apartment, although you wouldn't want to spend a whole day sitting on the rather uncomfortable plastic chairs by the desk.
The sofa, too, leaves something to be desired -- it, like many apartment hotel sofas, is a pull-out sofa bed, which nearly invariably leads to a less-than-comfy sofa. For example: no padding in the thin arms of the sofa.
In the lime green kitchen area you'll find pretty much everything you need for basic cookery: large fridge, microwave-convection oven, hot plate, kettle, toaster, all the utensils you'll need, and a sink plus dishwasher to clean it all up.
I was very surprised by the lack of a washing machine and dryer, though -- that's a standard fitting for apartment hotels, and most travellers will rely on finding one in an apartment hotel. There are laundry facilities on site, but not having machines in each room is a downside.
I'm baffled by the shower-over-bath, too. With the usual thimble-sized hotel bath that nobody ever uses, surely a better idea would have been to just have a walk-in shower. The separate toilet is handy if you're travelling with the other half, but it strikes me as something of a waste of space.
On the plus side, I appreciated the extra sink-side storage space -- all too often there's a tiny shelf, but there was more than enough room for my disgorged toiletries bag.
I wasn't impressed by the desk chairs, although the expanse of white desk was at a reasonable height, with two power points right next to it.
The wifi in the hotel was only okay for central Melbourne, at 4Mbps down and 0.8Mbps up.
Wifi isn't free, though -- but at $14.95 per 24h or $80 per week, it's cheaper than many hotels.
Although you can cook whatever you like in the well-equipped kitchen, you'd be missing a treat if you didn't hit Heirloom restaurant, a French-Japanese fusion place on the ground floor.
Breakfasts are particularly good, with egg dishes just perfect and the coffee top-notch. It can be tricky to flag down a waiter, though, so don't sit yourself out of the main action in the restaurant if you're likely to want a refill on the coffee.
With a busy schedule, I also tried Heirloom for dinner and room service lunch -- ordinarily in Melbourne I'd venture further afield, but I'm glad I didn't this time. Room service arrived in takeaway containers that at first seemed a little odd but contained absolutely delicious food, and the lunch was top-notch.
It's rare to find a decent hotel restaurant in Australia, but I can heartily recommend Heirloom.
With the less-than-comfy couch and tiny bedroom, I'm glad that I was busy in the evenings and didn't need to spend much time in the room.
The hotel does have a small fitness centre on-site, with several branches of larger, better equipped gym chains within easy walking distance.
Heirloom restaurant also has a superb range of sake, wine and microbrewery beer -- and I found the room service bottle prices fairly reasonable if you don't want to wander out.
But wander out you can: you're in a Melbourne city centre hotel, and you can make the most of all the city has to offer.
Compared with most apartment hotels, the Citadines on Bourke is brighter and more modern -- but lacking in some of key reasons travellers would pick an apartment hotel: space and laundry facilities.
If you don't mind picking your way around the bed and heading downstairs to do your laundry, though, it's an above-average choice for Melbourne.
I'd certainly return, but I'd probably go for the studio room rather than the one-bedroom apartment.