Exploring Docklands : Eat, Stay & Play in Melbourne’s waterside hotspot

Just on the outskirts of Melbourne’s CBD is a freshly revamped District Docklands. Originally built in 2008, a 2021 renovation saw the addition of an entertainment precinct including restaurants, cinemas, tourist attractions and a brewery.

I recently visited the area – easily accessible by Melbourne’s free tram network – and here’s a few of my favourite spots!

Book a room at Nesuto Docklands

Looking fresh from its opening in March 2023, Neusto Docklands Apartment Hotel boasts 211 apartments offering a variety of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio apartments. I checked into my one-bedroom apartment and was pleasantly surprised at the space. The beautiful open-plan kitchen and lounge room were fully stocked with cutlery, plates, and bowls and included a great size fridge, working oven, stovetop and microwave. While I set my bags down to prepare for the jam-packed afternoon, the breathtaking view of the city caught my eye, and I snapped a quick selfie on the balcony that’s surprisingly fully accessible via the lounge room. 

After a completely exhausting day of fun around Docklands, it was so great to be able to be back at the hotel in a mere five minutes from the Docklands Entertainment Precinct. The room is built for relaxation with a massive king bed and blackout blinds. The TV in the room folds out from the wall and the air conditioning is fully customisable by room and degree. The alarm clock next to the bed doubles as a wireless charger for your phone so you can leave your bulky one at home. 

Before heading to bed, I had to check out the rainfall shower. It’s a large recess with an additional handheld showerhead with great water pressure. The dark and calming aesthetic of the bathroom creates the perfect relaxing environment. If a bath is more your thing, there is a huge tub separate from the shower – the perfect way to end a busy day!

Your eyes will play tricks on you at ArtVo

An interactive trick photography experience, ArtVo was high on the to-do list. It’s is a fully immersive space with over 100 artworks that invite you to take as many photos with different designs. There is something for all interests ranging from animals to wine to seasonal decorations and even superheroes. Make sure your phone and cameras are fully charged, because you’ll find something new and surprising around every corner!

Each artwork has it’s own recommended pose and perfect spot to snap the shot, including if it should be in portrait or landscape mode. Depending on how many people you have with you, you can get through the entire precinct in about an hour or two. The space is open with plenty of room for prams and wheelchairs, and is a lot of fun for all ages.

You can pre-book tickets via the website here

Beers and bites at Urban Alley Brewery

Dinner and drinks were a short stroll from the hotel lobby at the Urban Alley Brewery. A large open space pub that features an outdoor deck seated under the now dormant Melbourne Star, plenty of indoor seating and a large BrewPub where you can watch beer being freshly brewed while enjoying a pub-style meal. I enjoyed a 250g Riverina Porterhouse steak with a side salad and balsamic glaze. The menu for the drinks is twice that of the food with plenty of beer-tasting flights and gin paddles, my dinner was complemented by some fantastic Dasher + Fisher gin tastings offering up some floral and sweet notes. It was a fantastic way to unwind and enjoy some great food, drinks and conversation. 

Check out the full menu here

Battle your friends at Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq

Directly opposite the Brewery is Archie Brothers Cirque Electro, a circus-themed arcade with a cyberpunk edge, filled with dim neon lighting and variety of activities to entertain. Expect bowling, dodgem cars, laser-tag, VR rides, a whole bunch of arcade machines, and more! The arcade machines offer a range of options from Space Invaders to Mario Kart and the 4D immersive Asphalt 9 racing cars. After a few competitive rounds of Mario Kart, VR Beat Saber, and the crazy mirrored dodgem cars, the themed cocktail bar offered an opportunity for a much needed wind-after a busy day. 

Breakfast at Daybreak Cafe

While there is no restaurant or room service in Nesuto, the Daybreak Cafe is directly next door. Open from 7am, it offers a premium coffee experience in a modern and comfortable setting. I enjoyed the Hot Toast Chicken Waffles which consisted of fried chicken with korean chilli sauce, house egg waffles with cheese, apple slaw, strawberries, and an egg sunny side up, topped with silver almond and pistachio crumbs. It was incredibly delicious, and was the perfect way to start the next day.

Get your skate on at O’Brien Icehouse

There’s nothing like breaking out of your comfort zone, and ice skating at O’Brien Icehouse definitely ticked that box for me. The whole idea was a pretty foreign concept to me – not to mention bloody cold! – but after a short lesson with one of their instructors, I was on the ice and enjoying every minute of it. The price includes the equipment you need including skates and helmet – a must have for beginners and less confident skaters. Definitely bring a pair of long thick socks, gloves and a beanie till you acclimatise, though the chilli sauce from the Daybreak Cafe waffles certainly helped too! Our group had a huge amount of fun, and we can’t wait to go back.

Lunch at Berth

Overlooking the harbour is a gorgeous restaurant Berth, the perfect stop after working up quite an appetite at the ice rink. The full length glazed windows give you an incredible view of the water and city surrounds, enjoyed alongside comfy seating and delicious food and drinks. I ordered the Harissa Spiced Chicken with crushed potatoes, pomegranate herb salad and smoked yoghurt, washed down with a cheeky cocktail. Fresh and delicious, it was a great spot for lunch.

You can view the menu and make a booking here

Tee off at Glow Golf Docklands

Heading back to the District precinct, you’ll find the neon-infused Glow Golf experience. A completely indoor putt putt golf shrouded in darkness, it’s lit only by neon lights (so best avoid wearing white!), and boasts 18 Australiana themed holes with varying levels of difficulty. It will take a small group about an hour and a half to get through the whole thing. We had a huge amount of fun working our way through the course, and it was a great end to our stay.

You can view hours and pricing via the website here

Getting There

Docklands and all of the above attractions are easily accessible from Tullamarine airport by taxi or ride-sharing service. If you get the SkyBus to the city, you can jump on a free tram to Docklands and the Nesuto Apartments are an easy five-minute walk from the tram terminal. 

The author’s visit was thanks to Nesuto Docklands Apartments and all of the local businesses involved. Additional thanks to GP Communications and Ginni Post.