Responsible, sustainable tourism is top of the travel agenda right now so we spent a night at the Alto Hotel on Bourke, Melbourne’s newest boutique apartment hotel, that’s oh-so-proud of its green credentials to find out what all the fuss is about.
This four-star boutique hotel combines environmental construction technology and best practice initiatives with a contemporary, stylish interior within a redeveloped 19th-century, heritage listed building, formerly known as Unity Hall. There are 50 rooms including hotel rooms, studios, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, parking, wireless broadband and complimentary espresso coffee and teas in the A Lounge.
THE GREEN DETAILS
As soon as you set foot inside you’re reminded that Alto sources 100 per cent of its electricity from wind power with signs in the lifts and on room doors. Its green credentials don’t stop there: 95 per cent of all lighting at the hotel is based on ‘energy efficient’, FCL or LED globes; rainwater is used for public toilet cisterns, gardening and cleaning duties; hot water is heated ‘on demand’ – the energy savings of this alone is substantial; waste is separated by paper, organic [vegetable], plastic, glass and general; landfill is limited to 3.9 litres per guest, per night; organic [vegetable] waste is composted onsite and does not do to landfill; used cooking oil is collected and recycled into biodiesel.
It also provides complementary recharging of electric vehicles from Green Earth electricity (100 per cent renewable resources) and airport transfers in a hybrid limousine are available. It’s the first hotel in the Pacific region to use Saflocks (biodegradable key cards made from cornstarch) – even the pens are biodegradable. The hotel holds the prize for the 2009 Sustainable Tourism Award as well as Silver Status under the Green Globe Certification program and Carbon Neutral Certifiction.
My room is #312, a studio. It’s nice and quiet as its towards the back of the hotel rather than above the busy main street and away from the lift – something to bear in mind if you’re booking a room here as rooms directly across from the lift have to suffer the ping of the lift bell all day and night long.
Décor is contemporary and stylish but the room itself is a little on the small side for a studio. That said it does come complete with a kitchenette that includes some well thought out extras, such as a cafetière, a sharp knife, chopping board, salt and pepper pots, toaster and a well-stocked fridge. Guests are encouraged to recycle and dual-chamber bins are in each of the rooms.
With a shower cubicle that’s big enough for two and a huge showerhead the bathroom is roomy and bright despite its lack of a window. Toiletries (by Pure Essense) are all dispensed from refillable containers, which saves on landfill but doesn’t look overly chic.
Right around the corner from Southern Cross train station in the heart of the CBD the location is ideal for business or pleasure stays. It’s easy to walk to the shopping areas and trams run right outside to St Kilda Beach and Docklands.
Chef Tristan Stephens and Alto Hotel are members of Green Table, which champions sustainable local produce and smart practices. The restaurant serves breakfast (7 days from 7am-9.30am) and dinner (Sunday-Thursday from 6.30pm). Meals in the A Lounge (or room service for an extra $4) are reasonably priced: for example, $27 for 300g Wagyu rump cap (marble score 8), baby kipfler potatoes and seasonable vegetables or $22 butternut pumpkin gnocchi with Meredith goat’s cheese, baby spinach and pine nuts.
The library and complimentary book exchange is a nice touch. This area has a homely feel and would make the perfect place to relax and cosy-up in winter. Alto also has free access for guests to two local Fitness First gyms and a relaxation room with massage chairs is a welcome treat.
THE BOTTOM LINE
An eco-luxe hotel in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Room rates from $170 for a studio. Visit altohotel.com.au for more information.