I’ve never been to Las Vegas: the legendary city of sin. Where the city never sleeps and is run on neon lights, casinos, glitter, razzle dazzle and Black Jack… so when given the chance to experience Australia’s answer to Vegas, I of course jumped at it with gusto: gambling, lights, luxury… The Crown Casino sounded like something I could be down with!
Truth be told, I am not a big gambler. I’m the kind of gal who once placed a few dollars on a horse, got some adrenaline pumping when the race began… then cried into a pint glass when I realised that I’d never see that sweet $10 again. That’s when I swore off both horses and gambling for life. But this is The Crown. I had to do what I had to do but I wasn’t focused on the gambling at all. I wanted the whole royal Crown experience and explore everything it could offer me! And for all who plan on visiting Melbourne, you should get the down low on it.
The Crown complex is indeed, incredibly complex. It’s a long sprawl of buildings that roughly covers about two blocks in the area of Southbank in Melbourne. It runs along by the scenic Yarra River on the southside of the city and consists of three magnificent hotels, THE casino, endless designer shopping and restaurants/bars/clubs… so you can imagine I had to focus on one thing at a time. I could see I was going to get severely turned around in this joint and become lost in a sea of tourists and slot machines, so the first thing was to find a map and figure out where I was… and where I was sleeping.
I had been booked into The Metropol which looked pretty slick and metallic on the outside, but wow. It was O so decadent on the inside.
Yes, the five-star rooms were lovely with gorgeous bathrooms and impeccable views of the south of Melbourne, but I loved the little touches such as the mini jars of vitamins in the cupboard (did they see me coming with the ‘Sleep’ and ‘Liver detox’ pills??), and the message that popped up on my television screen confirming a restaurant booking for the eve. But hey, the day was young. We can pop those pills later.
The lift had shown some interesting aspects to The Metropol…. What was this mysterious Level 28?? Turns out it was a bar where you can get free pre-dinner drinks between 5:30pm – 7pm, plus gourmet dips. This, teamed with the view you got on the balcony, made it the perfect beginning to our evening.
Wandering down to the main complex in the search for our booked restaurant, I could clearly see how immaculately kept this place was… ready and rearing to go for the onslaught of people when night time hits. Not a single expense had been held back in the fit-out of the complex.
Shiny shops containing Louis Vuitton and Gucci tempted us at every turn making it easy to pretend to be some kind of celebrity flouncing about the joint. Well, it does explain why Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Tiger Woods have all chosen to stay here in the past. There is nowhere else in Australia where you can buy a Prada handbag at 10pm!
Hmmm, where to eat?! You’ll be spoilt for choice, and if you can’t handle making a decision then the staff at The Metropol are more than willing to help you find something up your alley.
Restaurants line the banks of the Yarra with every cuisine you can imagine. Chinese? Seafood? Japanese? French? Contemporary Italian? Why not settle for the finest local and seasonal produce at Number 8. But it wasn’t the food that hooked me into eating there… it was the iPad menus.
Luckily, the novelty menus were not the highlight of our dining experience as the food was phenomenal! As The Crown’s flagship award-winning modern Australian restaurant was nestled by the river, the view of the city skyline and all its lights made it a beautiful setting as dusk deepened.
As we discussed the plan of action for the eve, 8pm rolled around and so did a dull roaring sound. It dimly sounded like a dragon screaming in the background, but every 30 seconds it got louder and louder. Oh yes, it’s the Gas Brigades! A line of towers run alongside the Yarra and every eve on the hour, they spew magnificent burning fireballs that get up to 7 metres in diameter!
Now that’s what I wanted to see: a little Las Vegas razzle dazzle to get the mood going! Apparently, the engineer spent his childhood setting fire to the string of a helium balloon, watching them sail up into the air before exploding into a ball of flames. Luckily, the engineer turned out to be a genius and not a pyromaniac.
There’s a lot of innocent fun to be had within The Crown: A huge cinema, ten pin bowling, all-singing all-dancing shows at The Palms … or you could skip that and hit up the numerous bars and nightclubs after (or before!) splashing yo cash in the casino. There are so many bars and drinking holes to pick from. Maybe have a glamorous evening in Club 23 in The Crown Towers where the champagne flows and you can sip on some of the rarest vintage whiskies available in Australia. Or if you fancy a dance, take your pick from The Crown’s clubs where celebrity DJs can be found spinning the decks real late into the night.
But hey, I can party any night. I’m in The Crown so let’s see what this casino is all about… Like most casinos, it’s laid out in a maze-like fashion with minimal outside lighting to ensure people don’t freak out when the sun rises and they realise they’ve spent three days in there. But boy, is it interesting! The loud noises, flashing lights, bets being placed, slot machines whirring and beeping, tourists gawping, regulars getting in the thick of it, men wearing strange sunglasses indoors, drinks being poured – it’s a debauchery taste of a mini Vegas. I, of course, placed a $5 bet, won, then lost, then sat back and observed the developing chaos as the night wore on…
As The Crown Casino is a huge establishment with numerous watering holes that go for 24 hours, it is a destination for many who want to continue their night/morning despite all the clubs, pubs, and bars of Melbourne shutting for the night. Perfect for when you’re not ready to go home yet, but it comes hand-in-hand with a high volume of Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) Officers patrolling as the night wears on. So heads up: if you look mildly drunk, you will responsibly be denied the service of alcohol.However, if you’d like to fly with the high rollers, there’s the elusive ‘Mahogany Room’. There’s no mahogany in this room, but you’ll have to take my word for it as its exclusivity stops many from getting a foot in the door. A bet for $300,000 wouldn’t fluster a soul in there!
Gambling, exploring, drinking, dining, shopping, more exploring… I was pooped from the hectic day! One more delicious cocktail and it was all The Crown I could handle.
The morning after meant a deliciously comfortable sleep-in followed by breakfast up on Level 28. The buffet spread was healthy and fresh, (just what my body needed) and of course the view was impeccable in the sunshine as I could see all the way to the mountains outside Melbourne.
Now of course, it was then time for a touch of pampering, I wasn’t holding back on my Crown experience. And that brings me onto the next feature that The Metropol had to offer me… Isika.
The on-site luxury day spa is situated on the floor below and a large window allowed me to view the infinity pool that looked like it was spilling straight out over the edge of the skyscraper, to the streets of Melbourne below. I had booked myself in for an hour massage (why not!) and was greeted by the friendly relaxed staff that showered me with magazines and juice before ushering me into a room for extreme muscle-tranquillity. A successful pampering session that was rounded off with a dip in the pool with an awesome view.
The Crown was an epic experience. There’s so much to check out and especially since it’s 24 hours non-stop action, it can wear you out quickly. Thank heavens for Isika where you can escape up to the 27th floor and have time to decompress and recover from the night. So if you want decadent dining, delicious drinks, a touch of glamour and razzle dazzle to break up your backpacking in Australia, then head to The Crown where you can have it all.
Sophie joined Travelettes back in 2009 after she graduated and fled the UK for exotic adventures! She took on an epic backpacking trip that led her to discovering her favourite city, Melbourne. After a few years frolicking in Australia, she finally returned back to England. She whiles away her time planning European escapes, crocheting, and daydreaming of escaping to SE Asia & living in eternal summers. See what else she's up to on her blog Saints on a Plane. Sophie reads emails at firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite: http://www.travelettes.net