Frugal Travel in Expensive Melbourne
Magical Melbourne — one of the jewels in Australia’s crown — a world class city with price tags for hotels and food to match Paris and London. So how then is it possible to travel to Melbourne if you are inclined towards a frugal and healthy approach and inclined away from backpacker style accommodations and ingesting fast food?
The first step in finding an inexpensive place to stay is to register with an online site such as HotelClub which, according to their website, represents “60,000 Hotels in Over 134 Countries.” By registering and selecting the specific countries or cities that you are interested in, you will receive weekly alerts on deeply discounted accommodations.
I was curious about the quoted fee-free price compared to the hotel’s own stated per-room cost, so I selected several hotels for comparison and in every case the HotelClub discount rate beat any specials that were being offered by the hotels on their own websites, sometimes by 50% or more.
How can you make a $99 rate better? By making that the discount rate on an apartment right in the heart of Melbourne! An alert came into my box on a Monday that 33%-50%-off rates were available for the weekend we had chosen.
Astute travellers know that one of the key ways to stretch your travel dollars is to rent an apartment and do some of your own cooking. Why pay $25 for a breakfast for two when you can cook your own and drink the tea or coffee that the hotel has on hand in each apartment. Having a major grocery store like Woolworths inside the huge new shopping and dining centre QV Melbourne a mere few blocks away means that you can bring home the ingredients for a dinner that totals a fraction of what most Melbourne restaurants must charge with their high overhead and staffing costs.
We were pleasantly surprised when we disembarked from the tram on LaTrobe Street, walked half a block to the Cube Serviced Apartments at 19 Exploration Lane, and discovered that we were staying right in the heart of the theater district. Our studio apartment was quite spacious for two people and was spotlessly clean.
The king-size bed was quite comfortable and the nearby writing desk had enough room to spread out my laptop and various pieces of camera gear.
An entire wall of cabinetry has been divided up to house coats, linens, pantry, dishes and pans, an inset niche for the kitchen functions and an area for the flat screen television and dvd player. The kitchen area has a 2 burner cook-top, dishwasher, and a refrigerator and microwave are neatly hidden behind some of those cabinet doors.
Melbourne is easy to maneuver and the urban heart, the CBD (Central Business District) contains most of the art museums, theatre venues, and a vast array of upmarket and discount shopping. Between the on-foot accessibility of almost all major sites in the city and the splendid network of trams, you’ll soon discover that Melbourne is a joy to travel through.
In tomorrow’s post I will discuss the Metlink network of trains, trams, and buses and the daily or weekly cost of getting around Melbourne. I will also offer examples of wonderful places to eat healthy food at a reasonable price and fun activities that are free or practically-free. Check back for more!
***NOTE*** The author received no compensation or free accommodation during the research for this article.