Summary: I would stay again for the great location, excellent buffet breakfast (though not so much for vegans), new clean room and nice staff but would choose a better bed configuration for my stay and probably not plan dinner in the hotel again without checking if they were honouring drink specials.
The location of Novotel Melbourne South Wharf
The Novotel is in a convenient location for shopping at DFO (its attached to the shopping centre) and short walk from the convention centre. There are restaurants immediably out the front of the hotel on the riverwalk and its also a nice walk along the river to get to restaurants at Southbank and to Crown Casino.
If your happy for a longer walk its a great place to stay for shows at the art centre as you can walk the 2km there along the river and there are plenty of places to stop for lunch, dinner or after show drink.
Its around a 1.2km walk to Southern Cross Station and to the Aquarium.
If you have limited mobility and need to catch taxis or public transport its not the best option as there is no quick access onto a city road, you have to walk along the river to get to trams and ubers/taxis have to drive around – its only a short drive but there are closer, more convenient choices, especially if you are going to an event in the city away from the river.
The Room at Novotel Melbourne South Wharf
The room at Novotel South Wharf was nice and new with fresh linen and soft furnishings like curtains etc that were in good condition and the bathroom was modern.
The double bed mattress seemed to lack side wall support. I wouldn’t recommend the 2 double beds for anything other than 2 adults that need separate beds or 1 adult with two small children who share the 2nd bed.
To be fair I am a pretty heavy person so I do notice bed issues more, but my sister who is a more average size also found the bed to lack support – we both felt like we were going to roll off the edge and we were only sharing with small children. For just one adult sleeping in the middle of the bed it would be perfectly comfortable (and totally was once my sisters kid ditched me and she got stuck with two kids and I got to lounge around with all the space lol).
We were on a quite a high floor (18) so the view from the room was great , even on the non river side.
The Restaurant at Novotel Melbourne South Wharf
One of the most frustrating parts of the stay was the lift was littered with ads for cocktail of the week and happy hour cocktails in the bar so we planned to have dinner at the hotel to make the most of it. However when we got to the restaurant they tried to say neither was valid. Eventually they put out the cocktail of the week deals because apparently, so many people asked about it and complained that it was misleading.
As far as I’m concerned part of running a hotel is ensuring your in room and public area promotional material is up to date and accurate because you do actually read that information when you are on holidays, especially in the lifts when you are a captive audience.
Dinner was good however they were not overly generous portions, we ordered a bowl of chips to share afterwards.
Buffet Breakfast at Novotel Melbourne South Wharf
The buffet breakfast at Novotel Melbourne South Wharf has a lot of choice for meat eaters and vegetarians and but is just ok for vegans. I would rate it as an above average range of choice for a city hotel buffet (from my experience anyway).
It also got a big tick for including barista coffees at the time I visited (you have to ask at the bar, they definitely did not advertise that, I found out by accident when I went to pay to order one).
It was better (more choices) than a holiday inn express buffet breakfast (which is still good as they are only marketed as continental) and plenty of choices for meat eaters and vegetarians but not as many options as big resort buffet you would get in Queensland.
My sisters kids loved the treat of pastries for breakfast and my sister was happy with the choice of the hot food.
As a vegan the lack of baked beans and avacado meant my only real choice was hashbrowns, vegemite on toast and fruit – I had to ask for margarine to be specially brought out for me as there was only butter available. This left me feeling like I was being difficult as most buffets usually provide both margarine and butter. Baked beans are a pretty cheap way to offer a vegan hot options so I was surprised they were not available.