A Chance Meeting at the Swanston Hotel

restaurant-breakfast“I’d better order before you lot, else there’ll be nought left,” I joked. I had gone down to breakfast at the Cocoon Breakfast Bar down on the mezzanine level of the Swanston Hotel. This sumptuous hotel, right in the middle of the Melbourne CBD offered the most glorious breakfasts I’d eaten on any of the five continents. But this morning I had to wait a brief time for a table. A short line of big men preceded me.

The large man to whom I spoke smiled, but said nothing.

“Are you gentlemen part of some sporting team?” I asked, feeling that so many large fellows all in one room had to be more than a coincidence.

The bear/man turned to me again. “Yes sir,” he growled, “We’re the All Blacks Rugby team.”

“And who are you playing?”

He paused at this and looked at me hard. “Australia.”

Well, I felt a right Charlie. “Please forgive me. I travel a great deal and have no knowledge of rugger.” I tried to pass off my ignorance by redirecting the conversation. “I myself am an artist. I’ve come to the Swanston Hotel to take part in their featured day tour to the Great Ocean Road.”

We fell to conversation over breakfast. This man may have looked a brute, but he was clearly intelligent and knowledgeable about art. He had an Aunt who was a renowned painter in New Zealand and had at one point tried his own hand at watercolours.

“I don’t know when you fellows have your match, but speak to the concierge about the day tour, it leaves tomorrow bright and early. I’m told it’s not to be missed.”

This was my first time at the Swanston Hotel. As I said, I travel a great deal, but3028_6200 I am always very careful about where I stay. My lodgings must be comfortable, they must be central to the area I am exploring, and they must offer good food. The Swanston meet these criteria in spades. And in fact offer even more. Things like the day tour and various attractions tours only reaffirmed it as the right choice for my visit to Melbourne.

The next morning was cold and dark, the sun barely peeping over the horizon, when I was joined at the bus stop by several large, bleary-eyed, bruised fellows. Evidently my recommendation of the day tour had made the rounds and a few hardy souls had accepted the challenge.

Twelve apostlesIt is one thing to experience the wonders of the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles, Torquay and Bells Beach; to cast your eye over the Great Australian Bite and think ‘there is now no land between me and the Antarctic. It is another to do it in the comfort offered by the Swanston Hotel and the good company of its guests.

I do recommend it.

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