View From from the Hill: The city skyline view is sharply lit in the ice-chilled early winter morning sun. Directly below, from the third floor Apartment 30, cars whizz along Melbourne’s original northern arterial Bell Street; and just across the way, lines of terracotta rooftops sit among a mix of tree canopies – eucalypt ghost gums, pencil pine conifers, other deciduous trees; also the occasional date palm. I admire a towering Norfolk Island Pine; its crest from my view fits within the city skyline, aligning between the tops of the Eureka Tower and The Rialto building. As the sun rises the colour warms. ‘Good morning Melbourne,’ I think to myself.
Punthill Ivanhoe – one of the new breed housed within a mixed residential and accommodation city tower – is ideally positioned opposite the Austin Health precinct, while giving easy access to Ivanhoe and Heidelberg Heights’ foodie-focused family eateries like the modern Italian dining hotspot Va Tutto.
Designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects – of the Mona Pavilions Hobart, heritage-listed Hotel Acton restoration, Hotel Hotel Canberra (now Ovolo Nishi), the Eureka Tower and dozens more – the twin-towered design Ivanhoe Apartments is a visual stunner. Built on a triangular road island at one of the highest points in Melbourne, its unique monument-like structure incorporates even higher headlands at each road intersection corner. These feature pockets of native plantings that move up from the ground in landscaping that softly blends into the building’s lower level podium design.
The timber façade that surrounds the podium has sweeping curves, further associating this element with its Aussie tree-scape surroundings. Its layered dark and light coloured timber beams dress the exterior like a collection of multi story match-stick dominoes, collectively aligned in a perfected arrangement that creatively appears ready for, or mid-way through a topple. Thankfully however, these beams are decorative elements that are fixed to the building’s concrete and steel pylon backbone – safe as houses so to speak!
Additional elevations of mirror-like glass, framed in bronze, paint the façade in a range of warming tones. The overall visual effect is tall, curvy and bright – and at a distance mirrors the sweeping mountainside forest of mountain ash of the Toolangi Range in the distance. Whether you notice these similarities or not, one thing is for certain: the building adds an attractive new dimension to Melbourne’s north; one that’s most certainly a welcome intervention from Bell Street’s long line of ageing industrial estates.
Punthill Ivanhoe has all the convenience and smarts to impress the fussiest of business travellers; beginning with easily accessed, single level keyless entry car park with reception at just one level higher. The property in terms of room numbers is micro which aids fast check-in; in fact the hotel is considered boutique with just 54 designer apartments and suites.
Our two bedroom apartment with ensuite and second bathroom featured a long list of designer comforts. Scandinavian inspired furniture, thick-woven natural wool rug, large open plan designer kitchen with brushed blacked-bronze tap-ware, smart TVs plus an in-room fibre-connected WIFI router offering surprising speeds. We clocked our connection via ozspeedtest.com at 46Mbps at 10pm, and 29.09 Mbps at 9am the following morning. Regardless of the variation in speed, this connection made light work of file sharing, video streaming and emailing tasks, morning and night.
After a comfortably warm sleep we wake to an in-room breakfast delivery of coffee, juice, French toast topped with caramelised banana, mixed berry coulis and seasonal fruit, plus a smoked salmon and rosti stack with cream cheese, capers, poached eggs – all flavoursome fresh offerings from Heidelberg’s newest eatery The Chairman Cafe and Foodstore. One taster dish we’re particularly impressed with is the black rice with mint, parsley and spinach, sautéed mushrooms and pan-fried halloumi, which simply blows us away – a completely unexpected, fragrant and delightful Middle Eastern inspired gem. Also available are almond croissants and Portuguese custard tarts – the perfect quick option to match any style of coffee. We highly recommend you order the night before to ensure this very special in-room service.
Punthill Ivanhoe offers a wonderful balance between sleek modern interiors and furnishings that offer a no fuss mid-tier comfort. While we questioned the functional aspects of some items like the nonsensical apartment entry door locks and our kitchen cabinet layout (not completely practical), overall our stay proved highly comfortable and enjoyable. Would we return again? Yes. Would we recommended it to business colleagues? Absolutely. Punthill Ivanhoe ticks so many boxes as it’s an easy-to-reach professionally-staffed apartment-style hotel that gives the CBD four-star properties a serious run for their money.
443 Upper Heidelberg Road,
Tel 1300 731 299