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A Beginners Guide to Melbourne Laneways

Nov 21, 2016  ·  5 min read

words by ben stephens

From festivals to street art, the humble laneway holds a special place in the make-up that is the cultural fabric of Melbourne. So special, that no other city in the country can recreate the laneway vibes quite like the world’s most liveable city. Though saying that, I once found a place in Darwin, hidden somewhere down in Smith St Mall, great coffee, if you ever find it, very Melbourne. I digress – with the opening of QT, we thought it best to give you an introductory guide to some best finds in the top laneways around town, all wrapped up in a 3km adventure through the heart of the city.

Best to start this journey with a partner of sorts, leave some time in the mid-afternoon, say 2:30 or 3pm, not a moment later.

As you bid farewell to the Director of Chaos outside the copper doors of QT Melbourne, take a sharp right and follow your nose down towards the Yarra, before taking a tight right into Flinders Lane. Now you’re going to go pass a bunch of laneways, keep going, cross Swanston and half way down the block you’ll find Degraves Lane on your left. Now browse the laneway for The Quarter and have your partner snap up a seat in the middle of the lane. Make your way to Doughnut Time to grab something a little sweet. When you get back with your Frankenstein doughnut, join your comrade in ordering an espresso martini. With just that right amount of kick, paired with that sugar high, you’re cementing the start to a solid day of adventure. Now order another and watch the day slowly pass by.

When you have pulled yourself out of the Degraves caffeine den that you find yourself in, take a right onto Elizabeth, then bang a left onto Bourke, followed by a tight right onto Hardware Lane. This laneway stop is designed for a little booze and a little food. Booze first, locate the doorway of Campari House and take the stairs to the roof, order a little Campari mix, enjoy the surrounds and talk to strangers. You’ll know when it’s time to go, the sun would’ve just started to dip and you’re a little peckish in the tummy.

Time to head north on Hardware Lane for a little Mexican at Amigos – that’s friend in Spanish, but you already knew that, ‘cause you’ve had a Campari or two and become quite self-aware. Once inside Amigos, order a couple of tacos, nothing big, just one or two and then scan your eyes over the Tequila Flights, a tasting plate of some damn fine Agave.

Now we all know that tequila can be a messy business, best to move on after a couple of tasting paddles. Come out and turn left on Little Bourke, it’s time to hit the Chinatown to down a dumpling. Make your way down until you find Tattersalls Lane on your left. About mid-way up, you’ll find a door for Camy Shanghai Dumpling House. It does exactly what it says on the box – tables, dumplings, served quickly, no split bills and cash only. Service always gets a bad wrap here, but you don’t go there for witty banter or a quick wit, you go there to throw dumplings down and the service is unique for that. Once you’re done gobbling up a neat number of rounded masses of steamed dough, head next-door to Section 8. It’s pretty rad, with a tonne of wooden pallet furniture. Order a cocktail from the team in the shipping container, skilled young things they are. Again, talk to some strangers, they’re surprisingly nice people.

@section8melbourne #section8 #melbourne #alley #section8melb

A post shared by Matias Reyes (@m_reyesg) on

Now that you have spent an entire afternoon and early evening getting to know the laneway scene, it’s time to come and check out what we here at QT Melbourne have in store for the local environment.

Take a right to Little Bourke and then bang that tight right one last time and you’ll be on Russell Street. When you see a black bob directing chaos, you know you’re home. Starting on the ground floor check out our spicy laneway bar Hot Sauce. A Korean and Japanese union gives way to a unique bar food menu, with a cocktail list to match. Open to the wee hours of the morning, you’ll find Hot Sauce with a banging selection of music, matched with a damn good-looking crowd.

Though if you need a little more altitude, take the elevator to the rooftop and you’ll walk out into Melbourne’s newest, highly elevated bar. Braden Hargreaves, ex QT Sydney, heads the Rooftop at QT bar team up, he’ll sort you out with something mind-blowingly delicious.

What better place to end the evening than on top of it all – you did it, you conquered the Beginners Guide to the Melbourne Laneway Scene.

It’s admittedly a long list of directions, so I made you a map, from me to you – enjoy – call the hotel if you get lost with your closest crossroads.

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