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Getting a room is easy enough on weekends, when business travelers are back home. You need to book well in advance, however, during the city’s hallmark events (say, the weekend before the Melbourne Cup, and during the Grand Prix and the Australian Open). Hostels in the St. Kilda area tend to fill up quickly in December and January.

Youll feel right in the heart of the action if you stay in the city center, which seems to buzz all day (and night). Otherwise, the inner-city suburbs are all exciting satellites, with good street life, restaurants, and pubs—and just a quick tram ride from the city center. Transportation from the airport to the suburbs is a little more expensive and complicated than to the city center, however.

The Best of Victoria booking service, Federation Square (tel. 1300/780 045 in Australia, or 03/9928 0000; www.bestof.com.au), open daily 9am to 6pm, can help you book accommodations after you arrive in the city.

Melbourne’s Art Hotels

Melbourne’s Deague family has combined a passion for the arts and a desire to join the global boutique hotel trend by dedicating a series of hotels to well-known Australian artists. The flagship of the Art Series Hotel Group is The Olsen, at Chapel Street and Toorak Road, South Yarra (tel. 03/9040 1222), named for the man regarded as Australia’s greatest living painter, John Olsen. It has 229 rooms and claims to have the world’s largest glass-bottomed swimming pool, suspended over the street. Rates start from A$249 double per night for a studio suite. The Cullen, a 115-room boutique hotel and entertainment precinct at 164 Commercial Rd., Prahran (tel. 03/9098 1555), is named after the controversial artist Adam Cullen, and has a rooftop cocktail bar and two restaurants. The Blackman, named for Sydney artist John Blackman and housed within the heritage-listed Airlie House (backed by a modern high-rise annex), at 452 St. Kilda Rd. (tel. 03/9039 1444), has 207 rooms.

         Each hotel features a major artwork commissioned especially for the hotel foyer by the naming artist, including one from Adam Cullen’s Ned Kelly series and Olsen’s 6 m (19-ft.) mural The Yellow Sun and Yarra, set in the spectacular glass lobby of The Olsen. Prints and a photographic history of each artist’s life adorn walls of rooms and public spaces of the hotels while the architecture, interior design, linens, and stationery also reflect the artist’s style. Visit www.artserieshotels.com.au.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.