Sometimes you don't need to stay in a Hyatt, Sofitel or the Crown Metropole. Sometimes, a perfectly ordinary hotel will do the trick for a night or two. With the Rydges Melbourne Hotel, you don't get bells and whistles. There is no one to greet you as you descend from your taxi, no one to help you carry your bag to your room.
But if you are only staying a night or two, carrying only hand luggage and need somewhere clean, central and comfortable to lay your head, then the recently refurbished Rydges will do just fine. Rydges is a 4-star hostelry is right in the centre of the Melbourne CBD. Chinatown is just around the corner and Collins Street, the Bourke Street Mall, the MCG, Etihad Stadium, Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne Park are within a short stroll. The staff and check-in and check-out are friendly and personable and there were no queues. I was upgraded, without asking, to a very nice suite that had all the accoutrements you'd expect; minibar, flat screen TV, walk-in robe. And a big bathroom with a shower that provided instant hot water along with a spa bath. OK, so the morning paper I'd requested on check-in didn't arrive and they wanted $18 for wifi (less of a rip-off than many other hotels, but a rip-off nonetheless). They also want charge you for using a computer terminal ($5 minimum no less), but when I explained I merely wanted to print out a boarding pass the lovely lady at reception did that for me - and stowed my small bag in storage until my afternoon departure. My bed was comfortable and there is a rooftop swimming pool and gymnasium, conference facilities and a business centre. On-site facilities also include the Bellabar and the Locanda Italian Steakhouse, although I used neither.
There are dozens of eateries within walking range (the Shark Fin Inn did a very reasonable Chinese feed) and you are right in the centre of the theatre district should the arts be your thing. A quick check on Wotif.com showed rooms start from around $179 (and are much cheaper if you book multiple-night stays). Nothing to complain about there. Rydges Melbourne, 186 Exhibition Street ,Melbourne. (03) 9662 0511. www.rydges.com/accommodation/melbourne-vic