You know how some experiences feel… layered? Where the deeper you go and fall into the experience, the more fascinating and other worldly it all becomes. You become a part of another reality for a moment in time. Two weeks ago, I had this very experience, when invited as guest of Melbourne’s InterContinental The Rialto to celebrate hidden treasures, laneway art, incredible architecture and 70 years of international experience. The entire weekend was something akin to a fairytale – a level of hospitality and little details like I had never experienced before. The food – the five star luxury – the surprises waiting on our beds every. single. time. we returned to our room – and even more than that, the fascinating history behind InterContinental hotel group and InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto building itself… it was the kind of reality I could have lived inside forever! Here’s some captured moments from our weekend.
Arriving in our Club Intercontinental room we were welcomed with an arrival plate of macarons, blueberries and nuts. Plush robes were tied with foiled ribbon on our beds (which felt like more sleeping on clouds), just begging for our tired bodies to rest. But first, dinner! We feasted on Sicilian olives with rustic bread, polenta, ravioli with burnt butter and prawns in Guy Grossi’s restaurant Merchant, housed within the InterContinental building (and Rialto Towers forecourt). By the time we reached dessert, we were so full but dedicated to the cause, so opted for take home packs for our room… later enjoyed alongside laughter, Snapchat silliness and a big girly chat across our beds late into the night.
To kick off our day of experiences, we were invited into a secret laneway to literally make our own mark on Melbourne – graffiti style! The guys at Blender Studios, who started as an underground art movement before quickly finding their way to the epicentre of the Melbourne art scene, showed us the basics of stencil art before we were offered spray cans and got creative (legally). Ellen started to draw a donut so I thought it was only appropriate I experiment with matching typography. We were rather thrilled with our collaborative effort!
Guests of the InterContinental are welcome to participate in upcoming classes, which will run on Saturday 25 June, Saturday 2 July and Saturday 13 August, 10-11am.
Next up, we experienced Mrs D’Ebro’s high tea. Set within the Market Lane bar of the InterContinental, this high tea has quite a story behind the name. Mrs D’Ebro was a society lady, married to Charles D’Ebro – son of a Spanish Baron and Chevalier, who designed the Winfield Wing of the InterContinental building. Known for the extravagant afternoon teas she once served in her home in Toorak, the high tea offered by InterContinental is a modern interpretation. We gorged on finger sandwiches, tartlets and scones with double clotted cream, blackberry sponge cake and mini doughnuts.
I was pretty excited to hear that Market Lane Bar also offers high tea with a Melbourne twist – “High coffee”! (espresso Martinis are involved, of course).
Mrs D’Ebro’s High Tea is served from 2-5pm, Wednesday to Sunday at Market Lane Bar.
We drifted downstairs to the Bluestone Wine Lounge, where we were welcomed by food and beverage staff, and a lot of utensils I had never seen before. It was time to learn the art of cocktail making! We were lucky to learn the secret recipes of InterContinental’s signature espresso martini, and my favourite – the dark & stormy. Both feature honey from the rooftop’s beehives.
‘One word adventure’
As the most lauded concierge team in Australia, with three members of Les Clefs D’Or – the concierge staff at InterContinental certainly know the secrets of Melbourne city. They offer a “one word adventure” challenge, where you can throw a single word to the concierge staff, and they will craft a bespoke itinerary for you. Ellen and I were ready for some fresh air and our lovely concierge James recommended some lesser known alleyways and cafe hideaways of Melbourne, which, as caffeine enthusiasts, we were delighted about! Ellen and I took to the streets, on the coldest day in Melbourne of the year.
Roaming dinner + discovering hidden treasures of InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto
Returning to the hotel, it was time for the roaming dinner, which saw each course being served in different locations of the hotel. Starting with Mumm Champagne and canapés on the level 4 balcony, we later found ourselves at a candlelit longtable dinner underneath the glass atrium of Alluvial Restaurant (smoked scallops with basil butter and passionfruit, and herb-crusted lamb rack) before being served dessert in a hidden room flooded with white fairy lights on a floor I can’t actually remember, and finally cheese and whiskey back at the Club Lounge. The fascinating story of the InterContinental was woven throughout the night, revealed to us by one of the delightful Concierge staff. It was an evening I documented exclusively and impermanently on Snapchat, because still photographs just wouldn’t have captured the magic.
The surprises continued, when we returned to our room late in the night to find mysterious plane tickets on our bed, with instructions to meet at the lobby at 9.30am.
Breakfast in the sky
On Sunday morning, we were ushered down a laneway and into an unassuming elevator, only to step out onto level 53 of the Rialto towers for breakfast in the sky – literally. We were greeted ‘on board’ to our flight with Pan Am flight attendants (dressed in original uniforms), which all made sense when hotel manager Erik explained to us the beginnings of the InterContinental hotel. As it turns out, in 1946 the US President Franklin Roosevelt and Juan Trippe, President of Pan Am, founded the Intercontinental Hotel Corporation with the idea to attract businessmen and tourists to Latin America by offering luxury hotels in key cities. The Grande Hotel in Belem Belém, Brazil, was purchased as the first InterContinental hotel. We were served authentic meals like were served on the flights,and were even given little travel amenity pouches.
With a final glass of champagne high up in the sky, our incredible weekend toasted to a close. Thank you InterContinental for such an exquisite weekend in your world.