Sunseeker: Melbourne

Anyone for tennis? It's match point to Australia!

Why go now?

With summer temperatures averaging 26C, January and February are the best months to visit Melbourne. Expect beautiful sunny days followed by clear, refreshing evenings. Victoria enjoys four distinct seasons and has a fairly temperate climate, except during the chilly winter months of June, July and August.

Any other reason?

To catch the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, which runs from 19 January to 1 February and is the first tennis grand slam of the year, attracting the best players from around the world.

Where should I stay?

The Crown Towers (00613 9292 6666; www.crowntowers.com.au), is at the heart of Melbourne's Crown Entertainment Complex. Oversized guest rooms feature spectacular city views, separate dressing room and marble-lined bathroom with spa bath. Pump iron in the hi-tech gym and swim in the 25m heated pool. Take advantage of the 40 restaurants and bars, three nightclubs, 14-screen cinema and Australia's largest, 24-hour casino, which are all on your doorstep. Rooms from £143 per night.

The Prince (00613 9536 1111; www.theprince.com.au) is a 40-room boutique hotel, housed within The Prince of Wales complex in the cosmopolitan area of St Kilda. Innovation, creativity and elegance are the watchwords here and the views of picturesque Port Philip Pay are unsurpassed. The Prince is within easy walking distance of many of Melbourne's finest restaurants. Rooms from £126 per night.

The Park Hyatt (00613 9224 1234; www.melbourne.park.hyatt.com) sits in one of Melbourne's most historic areas, at the top of Collins Street and opposite St Patrick's Cathedral. It has spacious accommodation and a wide choice of rooms and suites. Work out in the health centre or chill out in the day spa. Rooms from £112 per night.

What shouldn't I miss?

Federation Square is Melbourne's latest must-see sight and is one of the most ambitious building projects ever undertaken in Victoria. Situated in the heart of Melbourne, it is the first block to connect physically the central business district with the Yarra River, and offers a fusion of arts and events, leisure, hospitality and promenading. This mighty centre also houses the Australia Centre for the Moving Image and the National Gallery of Victoria's Ian Potter Centre.

Until 7 March, take in Melbourne Zoo's Twilights Festival Season. Set in a tranquil garden setting with all the fascination of the zoo's wildlife, this series of evening concerts features bands and artists ranging from big-band jazz, tribute bands, swing, show bands and Latin dance to Sixties and Seventies nights.

If you are short on time, the top two areas to visit are Fitzroy and St Kilda. Fitzroy reflects the bohemian side of the city, which has its focus around Brunswick Street. Expect a hippie mix of second-hand furniture shops, booksellers, retro clothing and junk stores. St Kilda is Melbourne's most laid-back beach suburb, except when its frenetic Friday-night party scene kicks into action. Wander or roller-skate along the esplanade to take in the ocean breezes or stroll through Acland Street for its selection of delectable cake and coffee shops.

Who should I call?

During January, Turquoise Holidays (0870 443 4177; www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk) offers a 10-night deluxe double-room break at The Park Hyatt from £1,750 per person, including flights with Singapore Airlines.

What if I can't afford that?

Trailfinders (020-7938 3939; www.trailfinders.com) offers a 10-night room-only break at the Magnolia Court Hotel from £1,039 per person, including return flights with British Airways or Qantas, based on travel from January to March.

Where can I find out more?

The Australian Tourist Commission (0208-780 2229; www.australia.com).

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