The story of the estate. São Lourenço do Barrocal has been in the same family for more than 200 years, and it was José António Uva (who is eight generation of the same family) who had a vision to turn the family property into a farm retreat he could share with others. The passion and dedication behind José António’s dream, and what he has created, is incredibly inspiring.
The interiors. Perfectly simple and calming. The interior design was led by José António’s wife Ana’s design studio, AnahoryAlmeida (also responsible for the interiors of many of Lisbon’s finest restaurants) and it is a dream.
Hortelão, their outdoor restaurant. The most beautiful place to dine between Spring through Autumn, this slow-food, farm to fork restaurant is located next to the pool, right by the organic kitchen garden, and is the perfect place to enjoy a dinner under the stars.
UNITED PLACES BOTANIC GARDENS
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA • BOUTIQUE HOTEL
To me, this is Melbourne's best hotel. More a home-away-from-hotel, this beautiful design hotel in the middle of Melbourne's very pretty and leafy South Yarra, makes for a perfect base for Melbourne exploring. The location is extraordinary - right opposite the Botanic Gardens - and just a short hop, skip and a jump into the National Gallery of Victoria and the city centre.
United Places' design is incredibly thoughtful and considered. Contemporary in style, you can expect to find a perfect mix of Italian marble, deep coloured velvet (amazing velvet sofas by Patricia Urquiola), and wood floors. and contemp
With only 12 suites, this is a quiet, intimate, private setting for your next Melbroune visit.
This has become the first place I recommend to friends and clients when I am asked for a Melbourne hotel recommendation. I don't think anything else in Melbourne compares. Owners Darren Rubenstein and Jo Rogers United Places
had a vision from their extensive travel and passion to set the stage for a truly exceptional Melbourne destination, and they have created something so very special. This Melbourne's prime luxury boutique hotel experience.
Why I love it
United Places is a creative platform, built upon my very own experiences in design, travel and hospitality. I wanted to create a ‘home’ for the likeminded traveller seeking experiences that celebrate locality.”
Rubenstein’s unique concept of a ‘home hotel’ is felt as soon as you step through the front door. They have done away with the traditional hotel lobby and foyer – instead you are greeted at the door by a butler (who is on call 24/7) and taken directly to your room for a quick and easy check-in process.
I was in the Garden Suite One Bedroom - Artfully composed, our spacious 67sqm one-bedroom suites face north over the rustling trees of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Floor-to-ceiling windows and deep terrace balconies provide the perfect vantage for languorous moments spent looking out over Domain Road. had a private terrace overlooking the Botanic Gardens. It also featured a large sunken bath set behind a charcoal-glazed window, so you can bathe looking out across the gardens (while still maintaining your dignity).The concierge’s local knowledge and restaurant recommendations were incredibly helpful, and upon returning from dinner one particularly cold evening they offered to bring up a hot pot of sleep-inducing tea for us to enjoy before bed. Bliss. Le Labo bath products
deeply colored velvet, Italian marble, and polished hardwood
Concierge service | Daily housekeeping service | In-suite room service | Thoughtfully curated minibar | Two-seater dining table | King bed | Rollaway or cot – available upon request.
Scott Pickett’s Matilda 159 restaurant - which is based on charcoal and wood-fired cooking - is right below, and guests of United Places get preferential reservations, or you can opt for in-room dining instead. which is found at the base of the hotel. The wood-fired eatery has made its mark on the culinary map, thanks to the innovative modern Australian food that capitalises on Indigenous ingredients. Breakfast is also provded by Matilda - you just select what you feel like eating from a menu the evening before, and choose your preferred time to have it served to your door.
I love the closeness to the stunning Botanic Gardens (and the famed "tan" running track, if you feel like getting active - it's a lovely 3.8km track around the perimeter of the gardens), and the NGV as well (a must visit).
About the owners
United Places Botanic Gardens is privately owned by local couple Darren Rubenstein and Jo Rogers. A vision created by their extensive travel and passion to set the stage for a truly exceptional Melbourne destination, Darren and Jo gather the best creatives and collaborators to redefine the local luxury boutique hotel experience. Combining bespoke elegance, personalised service and a commitment to sustainable travel, at each touchpoint the hotel reflects Darren and Jo’s integrity and thoughtfulness.
What to do nearby
Walk around the tan
Visit the NGV
Book a table
What to bring