Melbourne: Australias Hospitality Hotspot – A Year in Review

Melbourne: Australias Hospitality Hotspot – A Year in Review

Often referred to as the ‘culture capital of Australia’ Melbourne has a certain reputation to maintain when it comes to hospitality. In our city, being the best, doesn’t mean just having fantastic food and drink, it’s about the whole experience; service, restaurant design, plating, and keeping up with ethical guidelines and trends are all crucial.

2018 has certainly been a year for growth and change. From feminist movements to ethical practices (like banning takeaway coffee cups) Melbourne has  stood out as a leader of innovation, growth and creativity. As an ode to Melbourne hospitality we decided to write up the key events and trends that make Melbourne stand out as a mecca of hospitality.


We can’t talk about Melbourne hospitality without mentioning the plethora of top notch events hosted by the city, ones Octopus Hospitality is happy to be a part of each year. Concerts at Rod Lever, speaker series at MCEC, Spring Racing, the Australian Open, the Grand Prix, and footy season – all keep Melbourne a bustling city full of exciting, topical, and hospitality-centric events.

Great Restaurants

With a rich heritage of migrants landing themselves in the city, Melbourne has become a mecca for food and culture. Combining contemporary dishes with creative twists is what makes Melbourne food so special. If the city has taught us anything it’s that you don’t need a white tablecloth and fine-dining label to have impeccable food and service.  In 2018, Melbourne upheld it’s reputation as a hospitality hotspot with international awards; like World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s (with Attica placing 20th), and national awards such as receiving 1 to 3 hats from Good Food Guide. Additionally, Open Table announced this year’s Top 50 restaurants list with Victoria posting more eateries than any other state or territory.

Although we saw some great restaurants close their doors in 2018, like Estelle by Scott Pickett (ESP), Melbourne has also seen a resurgence of some great restaurants! Hotel esplanade has finally reopened in November 2018 after an 18-month refurbishment and Bistro Lola, a part of the newly opened Provincial Hotel, has seen rave reviews!


Of course the city of Melbourne has certainty had its ups, but the one major down has to be the audits from the FWO. Since their inception, the FWO has become famous for uncovering gross amounts of exploitation, coercion, and wrongful dismissal of employee’s within the hospitality industry. According to recent reports, the hospitality industry holds the highest number of anonymous reports received (36%), infringement notices issued (39%) and court actions commenced (27%). Unfortunately, Melbourne based restaurants, catering services and cafés have received a fair number of audits from the FWO for wrongful infringement on workers’ rights. Hopefully the work the FWO enforced in 2018 will see positive outcomes in 2019.

Feminist Movements

The work of 2018 seeing positive effects in 2019 rings true for feminist movements within the hospitality industry. In 2018 media outlets, restaurateurs, bloggers, and foodies-alike turned our attention toward women in the restaurant industry, particularly the fact that female chefs, despite their talents, are often left out of awards like the Good Food Guides Hat system and World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The efforts of 2018 will not go unnoticed. Melbourne Food & Wine Festival will kick off their start date on International Women’s Day in March of 2019 with a lunch by three of the state’s most accomplished women in food: Karen Martini, Nicky Riemer (Bellota) and Lauren Eldridge (Stokehouse).

Hospitality Design

The nation’s most ambitious and aspirational venues have been revealed as the winners of the 2018 Eat Drink Design Awards. Victoria and South Australia are the regions with the most winning venues this year, cementing their status as hospitality leaders.

Another year has come and gone, and 2018 has certainly solidified Melbourne as a hotspot for anything and everything hospitality related. We are so lucky to be part of a city that shares the same drive and passion for hospitality as us.

With 25 years of hospitality experience we have learned to evolve and change with the times, as Melbourne has. 2018 has certainly been a year for growth and change. From feminist movements to ethical practices (like banning takeaway coffee cups) Melbourne has always stood out as a leader of innovation, growth and creativity. We cannot wait to see what 2019 brings.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone !