Pomp and circumstance often comes with checking into a grand hotel. There are serious nods of the head, clipped sentences, and an atmosphere that says please don’t giggle or act anything less than serious. Something about a grand hotel makes you stand to attention, even when you know you’re just one of many hundreds, if not thousands of people to cross that threshold every day. When it comes to a wedding day or pre-wedding celebrations, the idea of checking in somewhere can be intimidating. That comfort of home, on the craziest of times in our life, is something that we can so desperately crave.
Through Hotels.com we discovered The Lyall Hotel and headed off for a quick overnight stay at the boutique, five-star hotel. We were interested to see whether an old favourite for many, and a hotel that takes prides itself on not just personal, but comfortable, service really stood up against the bigger counterparts. Whether this ease could bring something different to a girls’ weekend, or a romantic night away, a wedding day morning, or even a wedding night where the atmosphere is of utmost importance.
From the minute we pulled up on the tree-lined street in Melbourne’s leafy South Yarra, and were greeted on the road by a dapper chap who offered to take our bags and move our car, I knew that we wouldn’t be lost in a crowd.
The Lyall Hotel is a privately owned hotel, and it’s this that is enchanting because before we’re even on the way to our room, we’re greeted by cozy lounge areas (complete with fireplaces) shelves stocked with books you can pick up and borrow, intimate bars and fresh oriental blooms. We’re even treated to a grand bowl of jellybeans as a welcome treat.
This hotel never pretended to be big and grand, because their focus, on boutique luxury and the comfort it brings (known as their signature “Lyall style”) is all that they care for.
This comfortable, “at home” vibe continues throughout the hotel. Each floor is dotted with lounge areas, crackling fires and beautiful, grand art pieces, from the owner’s own collection – these are designed to, well, make it feel just like home. Guests are treated like friends at every corner – a VIP shopping card with discounts for the local boutiques, a list of the owner’s favourite local restaurants, bikes you can spend the day on, offers to grocery shop and fill your pantry, to arrange a car, or even a babysitter.
Our room is compact but packed with amenity. Free wifi, a full kitchen, with dishwasher, microwave, oven, washing machine, large fridge, coffee machine and well stocked mini bar (right down to mini ice cream tubs for midnight snacks and bottles of bubbles for your wedding day prep). The rooms just make sense for longer staycations or pre-wedding getting ready stays. The adjoining lounge and dining area has plenty of seating for a bridal party or spending a week as two. Separately, a bedroom with king sized bed and its own TV sits next to a marble-clad bathroom, complete with double shower heads, soft fluffy robes and its own bath (and another TV!).
You’d be mistaken for thinking we were upgraded at The Lyall Hotel, but no, a suite such as this is a standard here. The decor is chic black, gold and cream with an oriental edge gives that well-styled home vibe. The balcony setting the most blissful way to enjoy the sunshine, get some fresh air and pretend you’re not in suburban Melbourne, perhaps rather in a European street.
Completely famished after exploring every corner of the hotel, we head to the Lyall hotel bar to fill our bellies. The intimate space greets guests with a cooked breakfast (also available delivered to your room for no extra charge), light fare throughout the day and transforms to a champagne bar (French champagne by the glass anyone?) after dark – the open terrace under the trees, the prime position. The Lyall, as it turns out is famous for its chicken sandwiches, and the creamy decadent delights go down a treat, freshly made to order.
This is the Lyall, where unwinding, is as easy as being a part of the action. Renting a movie from the hotel’s library for those who prefer the quiet, or walking thirty seconds to the hustle & bustle of Toorak Road’s shops for a little more action. Choosing the former, we settle in with a glass of bubbles and catch up on our favourite TV shows, before we dress in our finest and wander downstairs. The now transformed Champagne bar serves us the signature Lyall champagne cocktail along with a range of olives and nuts. This merry blend of champagne, Cointreau and cranberry juice is the most blissful way to start our evening. As it turns out, this makes the most of the Lyall’s close to everything vibes, because across the road, is our destination.
After a quick scout online Cucinetta, a tiny 20 seat Italian restaurant takes our fancy. This is a place where the menu changes weekly, the waiters engage you with tales of home, where they make their own pasta and serves up wine in glasses quite literally as big as your head. It’s this intimate, Italian charm that, gives our weekend staycation its own kind of special local flavour. Another hop, skip and a jump are old favourites Da Noi, and France Soir. One could easily dine on the very best cuisine, at a different venue each night without ever walking more than a few minutes.
And after a quiet, comfortable night (the hotel’s blackout curtains, comfy king-sized bed and pillow menu ticking all the boxes) we wander bleary-eyed down to the bistro for a hot, cooked breakfast and fresh coffee. The staff attentive, and quietly reserved, respecting their guests own pre-caffeinated minds as they bustle about serving up a la carte fare. Our pick of the omelette complete with delicious oven roasted tomatoes and brie goes down a treat.
We have one last stop before we check out and we plan to make the most of it. We head, to the deep corners of the hotel, for a spot at the Spa where the team have booked us in for a treat.
Designed with a holistic approach in mind, the Lyall Spa uses Australian born, organic Sodashi products, and it brings to life the intimate Lyall charm, with just eight treatment rooms. I set off for a facial, while my husband opts for a massage. The darkened rooms and our therapists gently guiding us to prepare for our treatments. For me, I’m treated to a Sodashi pure radiance facial that leads me off to dreamland. What follows is an hour of foot massages, warm compresses, masks and massages that have such a great result I’m asked twice in the next two weeks what makeup I am wearing, only to actually be completely barefaced. My husband, who opts for a massage, walks out looking slightly dazed. His hour was spent releasing a year’s worth of work stress and soreness, stretching and easing each joint. We both stare at each other in a happy, blissed out space, with freshly brewed herbal tea as we try to ease ourselves back into the day.
As we wander to our room and begin to check out, there is a sadness that washes over us. It feels like we’re leaving much more than simply a place to rest our heads.
And it’s this that really brings to light where The Lyall Hotel shines. Especially as the place for all things wedding. Unlike big-city counterparts where you are just one of the hundreds, the Lyall allows you to, well, be you. You’re greeted by name. The team scurrying to attend to your every need. The cozy corners, the amenity, the service all add up to something that ensures it becomes something of an old favourite. A place to return to again and again (and it is exactly that for many of their guests). The transformative, welcoming space, and attentive service just as comforting for a girls’ weekend of pre-wedding celebration, as it is for a wedding day morning full of hustle and bustle. And for a local honeymoon? Pack your bags, stock the fridge and pop the bubbles, because, this place feels like the very best version of home.