The Collins Street Precinct, Melbourne has long been regarded as one of Australia’s premier destinations, famous for luxury shopping boutiques, five star hotels, theatres, heritage buildings and a diverse food and beverage offering.
From the Paris to the New York end of town, you will find historic architecture, and more than enough shopping and dining options to fill a day, weekend getaway, or longer stay. Originally one mile long when it was first laid out in the early 1800’s, the street now stretches three kilometres from Spring Street to the waterfront at Docklands. The wider Collins Street Precinct encompasses Little Collins Street and Flinders Lane, along with the colourful laneways that connect them. Constantly evolving, an exciting mix of new businesses and retailers choose to call the precinct home.
Here are just some of the reasons to add Collins Street to your must-visit list the next time you visit Melbourne’s city centre.
1.It is flagship store central
As the home of luxury shopping in Melbourne, a Collins Street address is highly desired by both international and Australian designers. At last count, over 25 flagship stores call the Collins Street precinct home, from high end luxury retailers to Australian designers and boutiques. Some of the newest flagships within the Collins Street Precinct include; Gucci, Versace, First Principles Denim, Fendi, Elk, and Bremont.
2. It is home to Melbourne’s first real-time weather display
Built in 2016, Light House at 888 Collins Street is Melbourne’s first real-time weather display. The tower’s LED lights respond to rainfall, cloud-clover, wind speed and temperature. The 15-story residential development is wrapped in a luminous skin that interprets incoming weather and data, transforming it into beautiful digital visualisations. Light House is programmed to run from dusk until midnight each night. For five minutes on the hour, every hour, a link to the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather station provides a data feed that allow the lights to forecast the following day’s weather in a literal interpretation, where moving lights will reflect conditions such as rain, clouds, wind or sunshine.
3. You can sleep surrounded by gold or go to the loo with the view
At the Grand Hyatt you can literally sleep surrounded by gold – here the golden façade is indeed gold, with 12kgs of 24 carat gold injected into the glass windows. Further down Collins Street and existing thanks to a surplus of gold, Intercontinental Melbourne the Rialto was built during Melbourne’s gold rush days, it takes its name from the famous bridge that crosses the Grand Canal in Venice. Venturing back to the top of Collins Street, the Sofitel Melbourne not only offers five-star luxury accommodation, but their signature No35 Restaurant also happens to boast toilets with some of the best views in Melbourne.
4. A family of Peregrine Falcons call Collins Street home
367 Collins Street is home to a family of peregrine falcons. The falcons have called the 35th floor of 367 Collins Street their home since 1991, with the building offering the ideal nesting conditions thanks to its south-east facing direction. Normally joining the world in October, the chicks take approximately 42-46 days to leave the nest. You can follow the falcons on a website dedicated to them.
5. The Collins Street Precinct is vibrant and forever changing
There are always new reasons to visit Collins Street, the precinct has welcomed a collection of exciting new neighbours over the past 18 months. From shopping retailers to cafes and businesses, some must-visit new additions to the precinct include TOMs, Timbuk2, Longines, Bottega Veneta, Mercedes me, Burberry and Leica Camera Store. Additionally, new openings currently in the works include Balenciga, W Hotel, Claudie Pierlot and Mandarin Oriental. The 80 Collins Street development will introduce a new luxury dining and retail hub, with Next Hotel Melbourne and a restaurant collaboration between famed chef Martin Benn and restaurateur Chris Lucas both already confirmed as tenants.
6. You can admire, create or purchase local and international art works
Whilst Collins Street Precinct is famous for its fashion credentials, it is also home to a collection of intriguing art works and galleries. For art you can purchase, head to premium auction-house Sotheby’s Australia, or to peruse challenging works by contemporary artists check out the gallery space Sarah Scout Presents. For those feeling creative, the newly opened Creative Hub in St. Collins Lane is a cross between a gallery and workshop space, offering an intriguing collection of classes and talks. Combine art and drinking with a visit to underground bar, Harley House, here you will find a gallery space showcasing works of co-owner and Archibald winner Vincent Fantauzzo, including a portrait of his wife, actor Asher Keddie.
7. It has high tea with history, hidden bars and the world’s best croissants
From basement bars, to sidewalk cafés and sky high restaurants, the Collins Street Precinct delivers plenty when it comes to choosing where to eat or drink. Brunetti is the go to place for cakes, desserts and Italian delights, while you can’t go past the recently opened Lune Croissanterie, rated as serving the best croissants in the world by the New York Times. For some old fashioned high tea, Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade has been the go to place since 1891 when it was up for the Victorian Ladies Work Association (and later named after its founder Lady Hopetoun). Flinders Lane has long been regarded for its food offering with plenty of happening restaurants and bars to choose from. One of the coolest new kids on the block is Trinket – an art deco cocktail lounge with a hidden cocktail bar which is accessed through a wardrobe. Nearby, try you luck finding other popular hidden bars such as Hihou, Eau de Vie or GoGo Bar.
8. You can enjoy some of Melbourne best shows at the “Indestructible” Regent Theatre
The Regent Theatre opened in March 1929 and was known as ‘The Palace for the People.’ In 1945, it was almost completely destroyed by fire, reopening in 1949, with the original architecture recreated using the original moulds. In 1970 the Regent Theatre closed its doors, with the government at the
time seeking to demolish the theatre. After lying derelict for 26 years, the Regent re-opened its doors on August 1996, after a complete refurbishment by the Marriner Group restored it to its former glory. It now regularly hosts some of the world’s biggest theatre shows with the 2019 calendar including hits such as Jersey Boys and Billy Elliot.
9. You can “be seen” at the Block Arcade
The Block Arcade, takes its name from the term ‘doing the block’ after author Fergus Hume coined the term in his book The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (first published in 1886). He noted that Collins Street was the place to be seen, with the fashionably dressed members of Melbourne society parading back and forth along the street, hence ‘doing the block’. Opening its door in 1892 and modelled off the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, The Block Arcade boasts one of Melbourne’s most richly decorated interior spaces, including the largest mosaic floor in Australia. The arcade forms an L-shape, linking Collins Street and Elizabeth Street. These day you will find a range of independent retailers and flagship stores including Creswick Wool, Haigh’s Chocolates, Beechworth Honey, L’Occitane and Adriano Carbone – Master Tailor.
10. You can walk the ‘golden mile’ and learn about Melbourne’s fascinating past
Collins Street is home to an intriguing collection of heritage listed buildings which tell the story of Melbourne’s history, from the height of the Gold Rush era to today. To get the inside word on the history behind these buildings (as well as a sneak peek inside) you can join a daily Golden Mile Heritage Walk with Hidden Secrets Tours. Along the Golden Mile you will find The Old Treasury Building, built in 1858, it was home to the original vaults where gold bullion was stored during the Gold Rush era. At the Melbourne Town Hall, which opened in 1870, you can join a free tour and stand on the portico where the Beatles waved to fans in their thousands in 1964. On the corner of Swanston Street, the imposing Gothic style Manchester Unity Building was completed in 1932. At the time, it was Melbourne’s tallest building and boasted the city’s first escalators. Further along, the striking ‘Gothic Bank’ built in the 1880s offers one of Collins Street’s most impressive facades.
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