United Places Botanic Gardens is exactly the kind of luxury home-away-from-home that Melbourne has been longing for.
Just 4km from the city centre, United Places sits pretty opposite Melbourne’s lush Royal Botanic Gardens in the leafy neighbourhood of South Yarra. With just nine one-bedroom suites and three two-bedroom suites spread across three floors, this is an intimate lodging experience.
Property developer and first-time hotelier Darren Rubenstein’s mission was to create more ‘home’ than hotel, targeting the likeminded traveller who is looking for an experience that celebrates locality and community. Rubenstein partnered with a number of local Melbourne creatives to help bring his vision to life. Celebrated design firm, CARR was commissioned for the hotel’s architecture and interiors, Melbourne creative studio, Projects of Imagination to create the brand, and award-winning Melbourne Chef, Scott Pickett for the ground floor restaurant, Matilda, which also supplies guests with a complimentary curated breakfast each morning, in-room dining and priority seating in the restaurant.
United Places is a sensory experience. Guests enter via a discreet and narrow walkway (resembling that of a Melbourne city alleyway), and immediately notice the hotel’s minimalist palette and dramatically lit board marked concrete, which leads on to an impressive sculpture light, hanging from an asymmetrical conical void, by Melbourne kinetic artist, Laura Woodward. Guests are greeted by a well-dressed butler who personally escort them to their rooms, a refreshing break from the tradition of busy reception desks and queues. Staff wear uniforms made of silk by local brand Primness, who do all the cutting and dying themselves in nearby Richmond.
Sleeping options include the Garden Suites, with views over the Botanic Gardens and buzz of the Domain Road cafe precinct as well (we loved settling into one of the large sunken bathtubs overlooking the city skyline), or one of the Urban Suites and Penthouses, with their gorgeous views over the neighbourhood’s historic mansions and red brick industrial apartments. There is no ‘bad’ room here. All suites are equally appealing. The interior colour palette is inviting with green and dusty pink tones throughout.
Textural embellishments continue within the suites as well, with stunning velvet drapes that corner off the bedrooms, 100% organic sheets (because this is what Rubenstein likes to sleep under, so why shouldn’t his guests enjoy the same luxury), richly colored hardwood floors, and lush towels by Melbourne brand, Loom. The amenities here are also impressive; being the only hotel in Australia to offer guests full-sized Santal 33 bath products by French brand, Le Labo, and the only hotel globally to offer Sullivan’s Cove Whisky – winner of the World’s Best Whisky 2014 and 2018 – in the minibar. Other local brands featured in the minibar include local craft beers from both Geelong and Brunswick, and a delightful range of teas from Melbourne-based ethical brand, Somage. The stunning clayware is made by a local artist in Northcote.
Rubenstein, who is passionate about sustainability, is conscious of creating as little waste as possible throughout the hotel experience. A refreshing change for a hotelier. He chose Nespresso as the coffee company of choice, as they are the only coffee brand who recycle their pods – coming to collect (for free) the used pods to be recycled on a weekly basis. You will also find delicate glass
Matilda, next door, is a luscious dark den of wood and okra tones – fueled by an open fire and hot coals. The restaurant is named after Scott Pickett’s daughter and pays homage to the ethos of the United Places brand, with a focus on community, comfort and warmth. Again, there is a concept of feeling here – with design by Projects of Imagination – it is dark, moody, and textural. Definitely a dining experience not to be missed during your stay.
Rooms start at $650 per night and include breakfast from Matilda, WiFi and Netflix.