The Luxe List 2009, Australia: Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto, Melbourne

Opened in late 2008 after a US$40 million makeover, this slick city hotel manages to retain the charm and class of its original 1891 buildings while showcasing the best of modern Melbourne. Linked by an eye-catching glass ceiling covering what was once a laneway, the hotel’s two heritage-listed buildings house 253 rooms and suites replete with plasma TVs and leather sofas. The pick of the bunch are the two Turret Suites, with sunken bathrooms and circular bedrooms overlooking the street. Office types flock to the Alluvial Restaurant, where the mod-Oz cuisine is almost outshone by the setting: a cool bluestone-and-steel space cast aglow by the vast central atrium 10 stories above. Move up one floor for classy cocktails in Market Lane bar, with a martini menu that reads like a glossary of antipodean fauna—who would have thought that vodka blended so well with muntries and strawberry gum? (495 Collins St.; 61-3/8627-1400;; doubles from US$231).

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