THERE was just one downside to our incredible four-day holiday in Melbourne last week. It had nothing to do with the crazy Melbourne weather – and this coming from a Tasmanian. And there was certainly little to fault with our sublime accommodation at Medina Grand or the cute waddling penguins at the Melbourne Aquarium.

A penguin at the Aquarium

No, it was watching three-year-old Princess Ella bury her head into her Dad’s shoulder as her Uncle Rick drove off for the last time during our vacation. With tears streaming down her face, she whimpered: “I miss him’’. It broke our hearts. All I can say is, thank goodness for Skype.

Aside from that one moment, this was definitely one of the more enjoyable holidays we’ve had – and it included a three-year-old, seven-month-old and lots of rain. Ella even got a lollypop from one shop assistant for “being so gorgeous’’. It could have easily gone the other way, considering five minutes into the plane flight she asks: “are we there yet?’’.

Medina Hotels gave us one night complimentary in a two-bedroom apartment at the centrally located Medina Grand on Queen St, which lived up to the cliché that first impressions count.

Hotel room before...

... and after!

We were amazed at the service, the facilities and, oh, the space. And I’m not just saying that because they spoilt us. The kids were given a toy chest full to the brim with toys.

Toys and a TV - Ella was in heaven.

While we scored a divine bottle of red and welcoming card on arrival.

Sorry, no photo – the wine was devoured by the time we thought to photograph it.

Ella had the luxury of her own Queen-sized bed, big bathroom and a TV. I think she scored the better room. It was just enough space for her and her nine “friends’’. Her bathroom also included full laundry facilities but, alas, she didn’t make use of them. The Bloke in The Shed and I had a walk-in robe, safe and full bathroom (with bath) off our room.

The apartment was extremely kid friendly – if Holly woke up and had a screaming fit, she was out of earshot from Ella who was up the other end of the hotel room. Plus the walls seemed to be so well soundproofed we didn’t hear a thing from any other room or the city below.

The girls in Ella's big bed.

Add to that a large lounge, dining and work space (ideal for parking strollers), plus a balcony overlooking the city. The full kitchen helped in preparing our own meal the first night, food for the newly solids eating Holly and breakfast each morning. Boy, did it help save some money. There was the option of a handy grocery delivery service through the hotel, but we discovered an IGA down the road instead. Not to mention there being cafe and restaurant options on every corner.

My only negative, and to be honest it’s pretty picky, was the straight-backed high chair. Holly just couldn’t sit comfortably. Thankfully we had the stroller with us.

Speaking of which, knowing we didn’t want to be carrying around a three-year-old when she got tired during shopping and touring the city, we invested in a cheap $30 stroller from Target which served our purposes well. It probably wasn’t a great look for my brother Rick when we managed to get in the background of a Herald Sun photo.

That’s Rick pushing the pink pram. While away we avoided posting, Facebooking and tweeting about the fact we were in Melbourne in fear someone ransacked the house. Then we somehow managed to make page 3 and all that went out the window. Our house is still in one piece, by the way.

Other highlights of the trip included:

  • Ella’s first experience on a tram, where she learned what it felt like to be a sardine. It helped her feel greater empathy for the fish at the Aquarium.
  • Shopping in the city and at Harbour Town, which wasn’t actually the plan. The plan was to go to the new DFO South Wharf, but we missed the stop. Typical tourists.
  • Spending the day at the Melbourne Aquarium and seeing the sheer look of terror on Ella’s face when she realised it was a “real crocodile’’.
  • Good taxi drivers – there’s slight concern when you know there’s no child restraints in taxis (which is legal) but then score a maniac taxi driver who appears colour blind at traffic lights.
  • Ella witnessing Flinders Street Station and announcing to all “that place is on our computer’’. (I’d shown her a few online photos to help prepare her for the trip).
  • Pancakes that made our eyes look bigger than our bellies – or our plates look bigger than our heads.

Pancakes bigger than your head!

So, what do you love about Melbourne?

Stay tuned. A review of the Melbourne Aquarium and footy at the ‘G is coming tomorrow, courtesy of The Bloke in The Shed. Read more about Medina hotels or join the MumSpace Facebook page where women share their experiences.

Make sure you enter to win two nights in a one-bedroom Medina apartment (valued at $1000).

Disclosure: We received a complimentary night at the Medina Grand and complimentary tickets to the Melbourne Aquarium. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

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27 Responses to FEATURE: Spoilt on a grand Melbourne holiday (Medina Grand review)

  1. You had me at Medina!!
    Haha!!
    I am actually planning a trip to Melbourne next year as a little gift to myself for having been pregnant for the past five years.
    It will be a weekend full of shopping, relaxing and degustation.
    Bring it!!

    • Kel says:

      Wow! Five years pregnant is such an achievement, Romina. You definitely deserve a good holiday after that. Or at least a lie down!! 😉
      Make sure you get to the new South Wharf DFO (behind the Casino). APPARENTLY it’s great (not that I would know, because we missed the stop! LOL!)
      Medina is seriously the best. I highly recommend them. 🙂

  2. Louisa says:

    The hotel looks amazing -you did well! Shame about the weather indeed!!

  3. Caz says:

    Fabulous. Yes the weather …… but YES the hotel 🙂 Looks like you had a fabulous time!! The girls look super cute in that huge bed. Cazxx

    • Kel says:

      Haha!! Well, you can’t have everything, can you Caz?? 😉 We did have a great time and the girls were incredibly well behaved throughout. Getting back to reality has been a bit tough!!

  4. Marita says:

    I love that I live in Melbourne 🙂

    Although I have never been to the Aquarium, after a bad childhood experience that led to years of underwater / shark nightmares I’m very wary of taking my girls.

    • Kel says:

      Oh, that’s no good, Marita. You poor thing. xx
      The penguins (which are the first thing you see on the tour) are well worth the admission price alone. They were incredible! If you ever did decide to take your girls, I’d suggest just doing the penguins, as you can easily exit from there. 🙂

  5. nellbe says:

    I also love that I live in Melbourne. So glad you had a great time. Sorry about the crappy weather.

    • Kel says:

      Hehe!! Yes, very envious of all you Melbournites and your incredible shopping. I made good use of the shops while I was there! 🙂

  6. Tracy says:

    I love Melbourne, I can’t wait to go back again. Medina? Lucky you! The girls looked super cute in that big bed! Sounds like you a fabulous time!

    • Kel says:

      I think Ella feels a bit ripped off coming home to her single bed! hehe!! She was getting rather used to it. Plus having a TV in her room. 😉

  7. Nicole says:

    Looks like fun! We did a Melbourne trip a couple of years ago, the big hit was the Scienceworks Museum.

    • Kel says:

      Oh yes, we love Scienceworks too. We were planning on taking Ella this trip, but it was a little out of the way for us. Maybe next time. (Hmmm, how many days till our next Melbourne trip?? hehe!!)

  8. Ohhh sounds so lovely! Just a pity it couldn’t coincide with the brunch. Love the photos and suddenly I have an inexplicable desire for pancakes!

    • Kel says:

      Hmmm, yes, sorry about the scrummy pancake photo!! They were delish!!! hehe!!
      Hopefully I can meet up with you at the next blogger event, Becky. I heard you all had a great time. xx

  9. Tat says:

    Oh, lucky you! I haven’t been to Melbourne since before kids. We went to watch the Penguin Parade, it was amazing! (well, slightly outside Melbourne)

    • Kel says:

      Going to Melbourne used to be a more regular occurance for us too, until the little people came along! Although, this was Ella’s third trip, so I guess I can’t complain too much. 🙂

  10. Marthese says:

    Glad that u had a great time in Melbourne Kel …I personally like living in Melbourne…although this year I think we had our fair share of rain 🙂 and as regards to shopping yes I agree we are spoiled …

  11. ooh, I love Melbourne. Two years ago, I had a meeting in Melbourne, so extended the trip away for a few more days. DS3 loved the aquarium, especially the penguins in the snow, and next time in Melbourne so wants to see real snow. Glad you had a grand time at the Medina.. smiles Alannah

    • Kel says:

      It’s such a treat for the kids to see penguins, isn’t it? And the snow!!
      Pre-kids we would make the trip to Melbourne two or three times a year, but it’s been a good 12 months between trips this time. Such a great city!

  12. Bronnie says:

    What a wonderful family holiday. I’ve always wanted to stay at one of the Medina kid-friendly apartments, they look and sound awesome. xo

    • Kel says:

      They are definitely kid-friendly, Bronnie. They’re just perfect for families. Just so you know, I’m running a giveaway starting later today to score two nights in a one-bedroom apartment at any Medina Australia-wide. Your wish may come true! 🙂

  13. Can I ask what you did about car seats? That is always the hardest thing for us when travelling interstate.

    • Kel says:

      Sure thing, Christie.
      This time, because we were staying right in the city, we ended up using taxis. As you probably already know, it’s legal for children to ride in taxis without car seats (not that it makes me feel very comfortable).
      However, last time we visited Melbourne with just Ella, we hired a car and the car company provided and fitted the car seat for us. From memory (it was about 18 months ago), it didn’t cost a lot extra to have the car seat. Neither of us can remember which car company it was now, but I’m pretty sure most of them provide the same service.

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