We might be living in a ‘COVID-19 Normal’ world now, however, the team at Ovolo Laneways in Melbourne is hoping to introduce you to a world full of wonder instead. I don’t think we will be seeing much international travel for a while, so now is the perfect time to explore Australia or perhaps even your own city. After all, a staycation could be just what you need to regain some Zen in your life and recharge those batteries.

The Ovolo Group prides itself on doing things differently and has been running boutique hotels for close to 20 years. Each property adopts the unique character of its city and in the case of Laneways, it takes inspiration from Melbourne’s famed laneways. Chic and urban, the hotel common areas are decorated with decals of streets, graffiti and faux grass benches.

Ovolo Laneways is nestled at the quieter “Parisian” end of Melbourne at 19 Little Bourke St, with a relatively unassuming entrance surrounded by heritage brown brick buildings. Never fear though, the hotel is just a stone’s throw away from all the sights, sounds and tastes that Melbourne offers. The hotel may not have its own restaurant but there is the famed Mrs Parma’a next door and the famous Thai eatery Longrain is just across the road. When you’re in Melbourne though, you’d really want to be trying the food around town, not in the hotel wouldn’t you?

Check-in is a breeze and the friendly reception staff will give you a brief explanation of how things work at Laneways. If you book directly through the hotel, you will get full access to all perks for free! What are the perks? Well, every room (regardless of type) will include free high-speed WiFi, unlimited minibar and snacks, free breakfast and free social hour.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions things are currently working a little bit differently, the lobby hosts bowls of candy, snacks and a gourmet coffee machine available for guests to use any time. Breakfasts are pre-packed Grab ‘N’ Go boxes which are a complete continental breakfast. Social Hour which used to be a gathering for all hotel guests to meet and have drinks has now evolved into “Unsocial Hour’ where the Hotel sends a cart around to each room with drinks and snacks from 6-7 pm. What could be nicer than having your hotel deliver a cold Pinot Grigio to your door!

Now on to the in-room experience. Rooms range from studios up to 2 bedroom suites. When you first walk into your room you will be greeted by personalised music being played by Amazon Alexa. For example, if you had booked a room for your birthday, it may be playing Happy Birthday to you. I had the pleasure of staying in a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom suite on the top floor with a spacious outdoor deck. I was instantly struck by how bright and airy the room was thanks to large windows letting in light. Incidentally, all windows are covered by automated curtains which are remote-controlled – now that’s what I call convenience.

The room was fully equipped with a large flat-screen TV in the living room with Apple TV and individual flat-screen TVs in each room. In the main living area is an Amazon Alexa speaker which is basically your virtual butler who you can ask to play music, tell you the weather or answer just about any question you have for it. 

The room is also equipped with an iPad. Gone are the days of flipping through a dusty old folder looking for details on the hotel and facilities. Everything is now digital – the iPad is preloaded with Ovolo software which lets you access things like hotel information, local restaurant recommendations picked by the staff and even order a new pillow. In addition to being your source to everything in the hotel, the iPad can be used for regular web browsing in case you haven’t brought your own device. Though who really travels without their own device these days?

The great thing about Laneways is that they have rooms that can cater to solo travellers all the way up to families. More than anything Ovolo Laneways is aiming to make your stay feel as comfortable as if you were at home. That’s the best summary I can give about staying at Laneways. It feels like home – only much better – as everything is provided for you, so all you need to do is sit back and relax. After a long day of exploring the city, you can curl up on the spacious sofa, cuddle a cushion and tune into your favourite show on Netflix, Stan or YouTube all thanks to Apple TV being included in your room. Simply log in to your account and make sure you can continue binge-watching The Crown on Netflix. Just don’t forget to log out when you check out! For international travellers, the room already comes equipped with multi-country adapters so you can plug in your devices straight away.

Like Melbourne laneways, you never know what you’re going to find, Ovolo Laneways surprises in all the best ways. If you’re looking for a city break and want to explore all that Melbourne has to offer, definitely put the Ovolo Laneways on your list. Book directly with the hotel to gain all the Perks for free and you won’t have to worry about a thing. With rooms starting from around $200 a night for a fully equipped studio and only around $300 for a 2 bedroom suite it’s a no brainer. But my recommendation, if you’re travelling with others, is to spring for a 2 bedroom terrace suite where you can enjoy that beautiful deck with a glass of wine and take in that city view.