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Inner City Chic: 11 Reasons to Explore Collins Street

Promising everything from luxury shopping, five-star hotels, visuals arts and live theatre, to heritage architecture and a deliciously diverse food scene, a visit to Collins Street more than delivers.

Often referred to as the top end of town’ – the street even has its own glitzy ‘Paris End’, where you’ll find the likes of Chanel, Armani and Louis Vuitton (among many more) nestled beside local laneway gems – Collins Street is as sophisticated as they come. 

But amongst the exclusive private member clubs, designer boutiques and stylish bars and restaurants, there’s an edge of grit and history that you’ll discover as you navigate your way around graffiti-laden walls, world-class theatre and dramatic gothic façades.

So, whether you’re looking to blow your monthly shopping budget or sit down to a glass and a light bite, there’s a kind of magic around Collins Street that’s hard to resist. Here are just some of the reasons why this chic shopping strip comes up high on our cool list. 

1. You'll get a sneak peek into Melbourne's past

Collins Street is home to an intriguing collection of heritage listed buildings, that give an insight into Melbourne's rich, diverse past – dating back from the height of the Gold Rush right up to today. 

To get the inside word on the history of these buildings (as well as a sneak peek inside) you can join a number of daily walking tours. You'll get to see where gold bullion was stored during the Gold Rush era, then stand on the balcony where the Beatles waved to thousands of their fans back in 1964. With so much history on one street, a stroll down Collins Street is a little walk down memory lane.

2. It's home to a state of the art building

Built in 2016, Light House at 888 Collins Street is Melbourne’s first real-time weather display. The 15-story residential development is wrapped in a luminous skin that transforms weather data into beautiful digital visualisations. For five minutes on the hour, every hour, moving lights will reflect conditions such as rain, clouds, wind or sunshine. 

3. It's a luxury shopping destination

To quench your thirst for luxury, designer shopping, Collins Street is your one-stop shop. With over 25 flagships stores along the strip, you can treat yourself to fine leather goods, gorgeous garments and one-off designer pieces. If brands are your passion, take a walk down Collins to splash your cash at the likes of Louis VuittonGucci, and Versace.

Credit- Shannon McGrath
Credit- Shannon McGrath

It's not all couture on Collins Street, you'll find a strong showing of local designer stores too. On your next shopping spree, be sure to nab a few locally designed leather and jewelled treasures at ELK, or customise your own pair of jeans at First Principles Denim. If you have the urge to splurge, there's only one place to go – Paspaley. Because after diamonds, pearls are beyond a doubt, a girl's best friend.

4. You can indulge in a five-star luxury

Collins Street is home to some of Melbourne's most opulent hotels, making it the perfect spot for a luxe staycation. At the Grand Hyatt you can literally sleep surrounded by gold, with 12kgs of 24 carat gold injected into the golden, glass window façade. 

Another favourite of ours is The Rialto Intercontinental – we love its neo-gothic vibe and blissful serenity. Guests can escape the noise of Collins Street and relax in their luxurious suites with a coffee (or vino) in hand. For a five-star stay with a side of fine dining, Sofitel Melbourne boasts No35 restaurant that has, arguably, one of the city's best views.

5. It's home to the city's peregrine falcons

The family falcons have called the 35th floor of 367 Collins Street their home since 1991 – the building offers ideal nesting conditions thanks to its south-east positioning. To catch a glimpse of these rare, native birds, you can follow their movements on this live stream.

6. It has artistic flare

Whilst Collins Street Precinct is famous for its fashion credentials, it's also home to a collection of intriguing art works and galleries, that cater to all tastes and persuasions. 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 exciting 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 oozes café cool

With a coffee culture that’s second to none, Melbourne’s café game is strong. From Brunetti's cakes, desserts and Italian delights, to the world renowned croissants Lune Croissanterie, you're not far from a quality coffee or delicious brunch bite on Collins Street. For a taste of nostalgia,  Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade has been the go-to place since 1891 for their beautiful High Tea. Don't be deterred by the queues, Hopetoun is well worth the wait.

8. You won't go hungry

Between Collins Street and nearby Flinders Lane, you'll find some of Australia's best restaurants. From local main-stayers to hip new hotspots, there are a plethora of dining spots to suit all tastes and budgets.

Photo Credit - Supernormal
Photo Credit - Supernormal

Mamasita is the go-to for colourful and lively Mexican fare, while avid carnivores need look no further than Meatmaiden. A feature on this dining precinct wouldn't be complete without a mention of local-institution-turned-tourist-destination Chin Chin, along with ever-popular Japanese joint Supernormal.

9. You can raise a glass after-hours

From basement bars to swanky nightclubs, Collins Street delivers plenty when it comes to food and drink. Just off Collins, Flinders Lane has long been regarded the go-to nighttime hotspot, where you'll be promised a mean cocktail with a generous serve of fun.  

Eau De Vie, darlinghurst
Eau De Vie, darlinghurst

One of the coolest new kids on the block is Trinket – an Art Deco cocktail lounge with a hidden cocktail bar you can access through a wardrobe. Nearby, try your luck finding other popular hidden bars such as botanical-infused Gin Palace, cocktail bar Eau de Vie or Chin Chin's GoGo Bar.

Regent Theatre, Melbourne
Regent Theatre, Melbourne

10. It's a theatre-lovers paradise

Like a cat with nine-lives, since it's grand opening in 1929 The Regent Theatre has survived fire, demolition and closure to become one of Australia's premier theatres. Closing its doors in 1970 and lying derelict for 26 years, 'The Palace for the People' re-opened in August 1996, after a complete refurbishment restoring it to its former glory. 

The Regent Theatre now regularly hosts some of the world’s biggest theatre shows. This year's calendar includes an array of international hits such as Jersey Boys and Billy Elliot. 

11. Shop till you drop at The Block Arcade

Modelled off the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, The Block Arcade opened its doors back in 1892. It 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. One of the best shopping spots, be sure to stock up on spices at Gewurzhaus and pick up a classic record at Basement Discs.