Today we have a guest post from Foo of the Melbourne-based blog Frugal Foo, which is all about finding great value in food, travel, shopping or anything. Really quite invaluable information, and my favourite posts are Melbourne’s Food Court Underbelly and Where to eat in Melbourne for under $30 a day.

Foo has written up a review on his recent stay at Crown Metropol…which didn’t quite live up to expectations. Thanks Foo!

The Crown Entertainment complex (or just “Crown”) has become a living, growing organism, spreading it’s girth and gaining strength each time a new international hotel suckers itself to the main host. The newly opened Crown Metropol hotel is the third international hotel to join this mega entertainment precinct. The bridge across from Metropol’s Whiteman Street address, forms another artery into mother Crown and seals a symbiotic relationship exchanging a vital flow of clientele. On the Crown side of the bridge, the stream of passers-by circulate through yet more shops, cafés and a reborn food court. Mr and Mrs Foo spent a night at Crown Metropol to check it all out.

The location has a lot going for it. One could easily spend a weekend being fully immersed within the insular world of Crown casino and the adjoining cinema, bars and restaurants, not stepping outdoors even once.

Crown Metropol Room with a View

Crown Metropol is a modern hotel. The spacious lobby sets the tone with few frills and an uncomplicated neutral colour scheme. Rich timber veneers and woven wicker textures extend into our room which is a corner suite overlooking Southbank and the bay.

Toilet with a View

Gone are the sentimental trappings of yesteryear such as tea and coffee-making facilities, or a fully enclosed private bathroom. This is a hotel for the 21st century. Rooms feature large flat screen TVs, iPod docking stations and motorised curtains. Sliding panels surround the bathroom forming, at best, a semi-private place to answer natures sudden demands. That’s fine if you’re on your own, but honeymooners will receive more information about their new life partner than they may have been expecting so soon in the marriage.

Bathroom with a View

On level 27 is the swimming pool, plunge pool, gymnasium and Isika Day Spa. If nothing else, head up there for the views overlooking Melbourne.

For an extra charge, you may head up to the private lounge on level 28. Here a privileged few will sample drinks and nibbles on winter evenings while gazing over the city skyline. A special “28” button in the ground floor lift lobby suggests a sense of priority befitting top level access. Breakfast is also served on level 28 for those who have opted for the $120 upgrade.

Sunrise Over Southbank

In-room dining comes from the kitchen of Maze restaurant downstairs. The menu promises to deliver a Gordon Ramsey experience without leaving your room. And no, that doesn’t mean you’ll be subject to a narcissistic tirade of abuse and bullying.

The in-room dining service was slow but we were kept informed of progress. My starter, the beetroot and mache salad was simple, inoffensive but a little boring. The beetroot was no different to that which I would pull out of a tin. For main, the rib eye steak served with a béarnaise sauce was better. Some effort had obviously gone into selection of produce before being expertly prepared by a chef at Maze Grill.

At $8 for a coffee from the in-room dining menu we where beginning to wish the room had instant coffee-making facilities. Curiously, there is an electric jug in the room, but no milk, tea bags, coffee, sugar or cups.

Gordon Ramsay's Maze Dining Room

For the great unwashed who don’t have access to level 28, breakfast is served at Maze on Level 1. For $35 you can eat an array of hot, cold, fresh baked and toasted goodies until you explode. It’s standard fare for a hotel like this. There is no chef assigned to cooking eggs to order, but all manner of eggs are readily available from the servery scrambled, poached or fried. I also recommend the smoked salmon.

Crown Metropol Cold Breakfast

Crown Metropol Hot Breakfast

Coffee is delivered to the table in a plunger ready to poor. Not that I mind filtered or plunger coffee, I have become accustomed to it on my travels at three star bed and breakfasts, but this was Crown Metropol. We asked the waiter about the possibility of a cappuccino, and after a perceptible nanosecond of inner deliberation, he explained that there would be a good 15 minute wait. Perhaps the barista was busy with orders from the level 28 set. Not wanting to create a fuss we settled for the plunger coffee as I’m sure most other level-oners who know their place would do.

Checking out is not a quick process on this Sunday morning at the Crown Metropol. The lifts at that time of morning are all full. At least one lift was not in operation while others seemed to linger endlessly at other floors. There are long queues at reception for check out. Express checkout is a better alternative.

As a romantic night away, or for a special occasion, Crown Metropol is NOT sizzling hot.  I have not given it a HOT rating since I don’t think it stands out as above average for the price I paid.  There’s just no soul here – nothing to make you feel like you have stepped out of ordinary life and into a world of indulgence.  Bathrooms need to be private and in this country tea and coffee-making facilities are standard even in the most basic motels.

Crown Metropol does recover some respectability with its functional approach toward the overall experience.  Customer service is efficiently delivered to a formula. Perhaps you might consider the Crown Metropol as a convenient place to stay in Melbourne if you can snatch a good last-minute deal from the likes of WOTIF.COM and if your favourite colour is brown.

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