Peter de Graaf checks into the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins.
Collins St in Melbourne's CBD.
Check-in experience: On arrival I am greeted by a phalanx of men offering to take my pack. As it is a grimy old Macpac (I'm going on a tramping holiday) and they're all wearing immaculately pressed tuxedos I tell them I'm quite used to carrying it. They don't argue.
Check-in starts with a "bonjour!" — the hotel chain is headquartered in Paris — and is mercifully efficient.
Room: I have a classic twin, room 4522. When the receptionist says "45th floor" I assume I've misheard. No, she really did say 45th floor. My room comes with two king singles, comfy armchairs and a tablet detailing hotel services. Decor is tastefully understated (you can't always say that in this price range) and the view is stupendous — more about that later. The bathroom is marble and as good as you'd expect. I loved the writing desk by the window. If only my boss would let me work from there ...
Price: A classic room with king bed starts at $295 on the hotel website.
What's in the neighbourhood: Sofitel Melbourne is at the eastern end of Collins St (or, as the hotel likes to call it, "the Paris end"), which puts you in walking distance of innumerable bars and eateries and many of the city's attractions. The free historic tram which circles the CBD stops a minute's walk from the hotel. Collins St is a major shopping thoroughfare, so is an attraction in its own right.
Food and drink: The room comes with a minibar and tea/coffee making facilities, and there's a restaurant on the 35th floor. The standard room rate doesn't include the buffet breakfast, which costs a hefty $48.50. The 7/11 two doors away, however, does perfectly passable pastries.
Wi-fi: First half hour free, after that $5.40 an hour or $32 a day. Ouch!
Noise: None. The rooms are well insulated and you're so far up there's no way street noise can reach you.
Exercise facilities: There's a gym on the 36th floor.
Toiletries: Les Notes de Lanvin.
The atrium: Fifteen storeys high and everything's coloured gold. Not exactly subtle but impressive in its way.
What's so good about this place: Quiet, comfortable and well placed for exploring the CBD and accessing public transport (did I say the trams are free?). But for me the standout feature was the view — my room looked out over the Yarra River, Fitzroy Park, Melbourne's eastern suburbs and the hallowed MCG cricket ground. The windows come with blinds and full blackout shutters, which are useful when you finally tear yourself away from the view to sleep because you're so high up you're level with those flashing red lights skyscrapers use to warn off low-flying aircraft.
Perfect for: A city break within easy striking distance of the main attractions, as long as you're not on a budget.