Alto on Bourke
Melbourne’s only carbon-neutral hotel is in the center of the city and has been there for a decade.
The reception at the 50-room hotel is tiny, though the front-desk staff helpful. The rooms look down Bourke Street, with cool, crisp linens.
Originally the Victorian Railways Union building, built in 1917, with a set of offices added much later on, the result is some quirkily shaped rooms, yet with a six-star energy rating.
The cleaning gear and toiletries (from fixed dispensers) is all earth-friendly, the lighting and heating switch on and off via the room’s key and uses low-power LED televisions.
The hotel runs on 100 per cent renewable energy; its carbon footprint is half the average hotel room, and the rest is offset. It harvests all its own rainwater and uses gas and electricity-saving mechanisms.
At breakfast, honey is from the hives on the hotel’s rooftops, the coffee is organic and fair trade, and the eggs benedict is very, very good. The beverages list is also green, with a healthy showing of Victorian craft beers, including the super-local Hawthorn Pilsner and Abbotsford Mountain Goat beer.
The staff get in on the enviro-action, too – their latest project is helping recycle cigarette butts into fertiliser and plastic street furniture with Brisbane eco-start-up TerraCycle.
Some of the green technology is cutting-edge, such as the aircon’s movement sensors that switch off if there’s nobody in the room. There are slow-flow showers and taps, energy-efficient globes, plus the simplest things – the refuse bin in the room has a recycling section.
Melbourne, Victoria’s coastal capital, is a city of stately 19th-century buildings and tree-lined boulevards. Yet at its centre is the strikingly modern Federation Square development, with plazas, bars, restaurants and cultural events along the Yarra River. In Southbank, the Melbourne Arts Precinct is site of Arts Centre Melbourne – a performing arts complex – and National Gallery of Victoria, displaying Australian and Indigenous art.