A Royal lunchtime

Take shelter from the wintery weather and frenetic lunchtime foot-traffic in the historic Royal Arcade.

The Royal Arcade was the first arcade in Melbourne and is the oldest in Australia. Designed by Charles Webb, construction of the arcade started in June 1869 and was completed in May the following year. The arcade joins Little Collins, Elizabeth and Bourke streets, with entrances at each.

Start your visit to the Royal Arcade with a baguette at Caffé e Torta, the cosy cucina with plenty of Italian charm. After the eating part of lunchtime is out of the way, follow the checkerboard tiles further into the arcade and peruse the assorted retail and services outlets, beginning at high-end jewellers Canturi and making your way around the corner to grooming specialists Men’s Biz and Miss Brow Bar.

Along the way, step into Somewhere boutique to indulge in some Nordic-inspired retail therapy and check out Woodstock Melbourne for the latest in men’s international fashion. Be sure to head downstairs to the basement, where there are vintage treasures abound at the Brotherhood of St Laurence CBD store – a hidden gem that you won’t be able to stay away from once you’ve found it. Habbot, an Australian-designed and Italian-made footwear boutique, and Silkstore, a specialist silk merchant, are also worth a visit.

If shopping for others is the task at hand, there are gift options to suit all ages and interests. Lifestyle boutique Hill and Dale stock a range of well-priced clothing and accessories, including gorgeous silk flowers.

The Melbourne Store is full of (Melbourne themed) Australian made gifts, souvenirs and decorations, and Mu Shop is perfect for distinctive and affordable trinkets and accessories.

Look no further than Koko Black or Chocamama for those who are partial to a sweet treat, and The Little Royal’s macarons would be a regal addition to any morning or afternoon tea.

Jasper Junior is the place to visit for the little people in your life, with a great range of modern and educational toys. And if you’re shopping for something out-of-the-ordinary, try a mystical potion or crystal from Spell Box.

Order a flat white to-go from Padre coffee on your way back to work and perhaps something sweet if you’re anticipating a case of three-thirty-itis later in the day. The treats are from Don’t Tell Charles and are definitely worth talking about.

On your way out, with coffee in hand, stop for a look-see in Babushkas. With so many sets of (large to small) smiling faces in the window, this corner shop is hard to miss. As you might’ve guessed, Babushkas specialises in Russian nesting dolls, called matryoshkas but fondly referred to as babushka dolls. (Babushka is actually the Russian word for grandmother.) Matryoshkas of varying sizes fill every available surface of the shop and come in a range of designs, including a celebrity collection. Friends of die-hard Harry Potter fans take note!

Layer up before you step back onto the brisk and bustling CBD street, content with the knowledge that there is plenty more to explore next lunchtime at the Royal Arcade.

Royal Arcade is located at 335 Bourke St. Visit www.royalarcade.com.au for more information.

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