452 St Kilda Rd., St. Kilda
Tucked out of the way in upscale St. Kilda, the Blackman is part of the Art Series hotel group. A unique concept—and a fun switch-up from the usual cream-and-taupe hotel interior—each Art Series property (there are three) is designed to fully embody its namesake Australian artist. Each hotel is fully kitted out with said artist’s work on the walls, art-themed libraries, and actual art supplies should you feel like turning to the paints to decompress. The Blackman is dedicated to the late Charles Blackman, celebrated for his dreamy Alice in Wonderland series; the vibe is swish downtown art gallery. Expect clashing prints, mixed-genre furniture, incredible views of Albert Park golf course and lake, and bicycles parked out the front for guests. Images courtesy of Mark Gambino.
National Gallery of Victoria
180 St. Kilda Rd., St. Kilda
NGV is actually two galleries (the walk is short, promise!) that divide the substantial art collection into Australian and International exhibits. Both are worth a visit for the permanent collections alone (which includes incredible indigenous art and textiles, French impressionist works, and modern sculpture and design), but it’s the roster of exhibits that makes the gallery a cultural forerunner. Currently on: a dive into the intersections between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and for the kiddos, an immersive play experience around Kaws-designed toy characters that look like a 2020 iteration of the Smurfs. For a casual refuel, the Gallery Kitchen brews excellent coffee, but for a proper sit-down, lunch at the fancy Garden Restaurant is the spot.
11 The Esplanade, St. Kilda
St. Kilda’s Hotel Esplanade (the Espy to locals) markets itself as a pub, but we’ve never, ever (even in Ireland) been to a five-story pub, until now. All the classic pub ingredients are here in abundance: There’s the beer (over 200 taps) and proper fish and chips. But there are also less-conventional aspects, like the Cantonese food on level one and regular ghost tours. Come for a late lunch, stay through to dinner when the live music kicks off, and chase the celebratory atmosphere that runs up and down the many floors. Images courtesy of Jackson Grant.