The Victorian jewel in the Hilton crown, the 396-room Hilton Melbourne South Wharf hotel temps travellers with a sizeable Executive Lounge, a stellar loyalty program and a modern yet elegant vibe throughout the rooms and public spaces.
With the Hilton Melbourne on the Park hotel now under the rival Accor umbrella, this new-age property is a popular haunt for Hilton HHonors loyalists – with perks such as free breakfast, room upgrades and fast in-room internet for the scheme's top ranking members.
Join Australian Business Traveller as put the Hilton South Wharf hotel to the test.
Location & Impressions
With direct access to the adjacent Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Hilton South Wharf hotel is ideally located for guests attending conferences, meetings and events in the Victorian capital.
Guests doing business in the city centre should factor in travel time to and from the hotel – the nearest tram stop is 5-10 minutes on foot, which takes a further 10-15 minutes to reach Flinders Street Station.
Southern Cross Station, home of Melbourne Airport's SkyBus, is a 15-minute walk from the hotel or a $10 taxi ride.
However you reach the property, there's a spacious lobby which sets the scene for the modern style of the hotel.
The King Executive rooms give travellers bedside lighting and a separate chair for relaxing and watching television, but only one side of the bed enjoys power points and a bedside table: There's a sturdy working desk with a comfortable and adjustable chair, desk-level power points, Internet cabling and a desk lamp, and it's easy to swing the chair around if you'd rather work towards the view rather than face the TV and carpet. Reading lamps swing out from the wall behind the bed, which are a great idea – in theory.
However, the lamps align with the centre of the pillows and reside exactly at head height for this 6' traveller, making them impossible to use when sitting up with a good book.
And forget lying down and holding your reading material at waist-level – the light shines directly onto the pillow and can't be repositioned (other than to close it away), so you'll get a good dose of light in your eyes and none on your pages, which renders the fitting rather useless.
If the lamps were positioned higher on the wall, or on the side and away from your head, they'd be a great feature.
On the other hand, the bathroom is a real winner – there's a separate bath and spacious shower, a large mirror with forward-facing lighting for applying make-up, an adjustable shaving mirror for the gents, and power points tucked away aside the vanity.
Peter Thomas Roth amenities are provided and replenished daily, including bath tablets, massaging soap bars, clothing mending kits with a needle and various colours of thread and the obligatory (and jumbo-sized) shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion.
There's fast wireless Internet in the room – and when we say fast, we mean average download speeds of ~50mbps – which is free for Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond members and $29/day for all other guests.
Surfing the 'Net is free in the Executive Lounge, but was capped at an unusable 0.5mbps on our visit and with a sign requesting visitors to connect only for 20 minutes during peak times. In a hotel otherwise designed with business travellers in mind, we're not sure how well the line "but the hotel asked me to only work for 20 minutes" would sit with your boss back home...
Instead, be prepared to fire up your 4G hotspot or to access the hotel's general (paid) wireless network, which you can do in a comfy lounge chair on your iPad or a dining table that's at a perfect height for more intense laptop work. Power points are thoughtfully scattered around the lounge, found against the walls or hidden underneath the chairs that line the windows: Nespresso machines are on standby for that much-needed caffeine hit... ... as is a printer and also two computer terminals if you're travelling without your own tech.
For guests without access to the Executive Lounge, Internet, word processing and printing facilities are also available in the business centre... ... with the hotel also boasting in-house meeting and event space that can cater for up to 300 guests.
Hilton HHonors Gold members receive free breakfast in the Executive Lounge, while Executive floor guests and HHonors Diamond members staying in any room type can also visit the lounge throughout the day for refreshments, afternoon tea and evening canapés and alcoholic drinks.
In the mornings there's a good breakfast spread with fresh fruits, cereals and pastries... ... chilled meats and pasta if you're leaning more towards brunch... ... a jaffle maker for the perfect ham, cheese and tomato creation, plus a thoughtful gluten-free corner.
Afternoon tea involves deliciously rich cakes...
... macarons, German-style pretzels and other tasty snacks...
... ahead of hot nibbles in the evening alike cocktail party hors d'oeuvres.
Also read: What makes a great hotel executive lounge?
Caffè Cino – just off from the lobby on the ground floor – is open for a casual breakfast or lunch, with the adjacent Dock 37 Bar and Kitchen also open for brekky, lunch, dinner and cocktails, featuring delicious Espresso Martinis (a personal favourite)... ... plus salt and pepper squid to rival that of the Qantas First Lounge: 24-hour room service is also available.
The Executive Lounge has an adjoining uncovered terrace for a little peace and tranquillity, which is best in spring and autumn as opposed to the heats and chills of summer and winter. The 24-hour fitness centre is on the same floor, with a vast array of cardio and cable pulley equipment...
... plus other workout aides such as gym balls and free weights.Missing are your typical recreational facilities such as a pool or tennis court, but we'd expect these more from a leisure hotel or resort than a business and conference hotel that primarily caters towards busy corporate travellers.
Overall, the hotel's rooms and lounge amenities cater well to a productive stay, aside from the snail-speed Internet in the Executive Lounge.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of the Hilton South Wharf hotel.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT