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    Melbourne's Best Kept Secret Laneways

    Image source: Shutterstock

    MELBOURNE: Places like Flinders Lane, Hardware Lane, Hosier Lane and ACDC Lane have built Melbourne’s reputation as a city of laneways. These are the veins of the CBD, where cultural activities take place, street art is created, and cafés, bars and restaurants are waiting to be discovered. But there are some lesser-known streets and byways that you might not know about, and that are definitely worth a visit. 

    Crossley Street 

    In terms of laneways, Crossley Street is quite demure, which belies its notoriety as a red light district in the 1850s. Nowadays you can recognise Crossley Street by Melbourne coffee institution Pellegrini’s on the corner, and its eclectic cross-section of residents – Melbourne institution, The Paperback Bookshop; bar and performance space Bard’s Apothecary; gentleman’s outfitter Maimone Charles Tailoring (there for more than 40 years); Traveller café; and popular Asian-fusion restaurant Gingerboy, among others.

    The Archway 

    The Archway is in Katherine Place, just off Flinders Lane. Pitched as an ‘artisan food laneway’, here you can eat your way through Melbourne’s cultural hybrid – from Romo Pizza Bar (Italian) and Hardware Societé (coffee) to India (Delhi Streets) and Taiwan (Mr Huang Jin) – meaning The Archway is the lane to remember when your stomach starts to rumble. 

    Insider Tip: Vertical laneways are a thing in Melbourne – the ‘laneways’ or business, retail and hospitality communities that go upwards in buildings rather than horizontally along the streets. Check out the likes of Curtin House and the Nicholas Building in the city as examples of how everything cool is on the rise in Melbourne. 

    Manchester Lane 

    Another mainstay of Melbourne is Manchester Lane, so called after the fabric warehouses that lined its cobbled strip. Previously more of a thoroughfare linking Collins Street to Flinders Lane than a destination, Manchester Lane has witnessed a number of notable business arrivals in recent years, including barbecue and grill restaurant Ginger Olive, and one of the cheapest and yummiest Italian restaurants in town, Maccaroni Trattoria. In a nod to the laneway’s history, it is also home to Design A Space, a unique store showcasing local, independent fashion with curated collections from featured designers. 

    Banana Alley 

    There was a time when nobody would be caught dead in Banana Alley, but times have changed and these arched vaults – once used by fruiterers to store their produce before market – are now a distinctive landmark on Flinders Street. Residents of Banana Alley include Doherty’s 24-hour gym (in case you need a 3am workout), a martial arts studio, Platform One events venue, and the trendy Back Alley bar. 

    Malthouse Lane 

    Be transported back to the 1920s in Malthouse Lane when you search for the heavy, unmarked door that leads to Eau de Vie. It has the ambience of a speakeasy from prohibition America and the cocktails are next level. This hidden bar holds further secrets with a bookcase hiding a whisky room where all the rare and exclusive whiskies are kept. Historic Malthouse Lane is also home to The French Brasserie, a Melbourne institution with loads of Parisian charm, where you can enjoy classic French dishes with a modern twist. 

    A Laneyway Stay  

    It doesn’t get any more Melbourne than staying in a converted warehouse in an iconic laneway. Located next door to Eau de Vie on Malthouse Lane, Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne on Flinders and its six adjoining warehouse-style apartments have an industrial era edginess that is inspired by the lane’s history. With Flinders Lane right at your doorstep, discover some of Australia's best restaurants, iconic bars and famous cafes. A short walk away is the National Gallery of Victoria, MCG, Rod Laver Arena and Fed Square.