Lui Bar is Melbourne’s jewel in the crown of cocktail lounges. It’s most definitely a Melbourne experience MUST. Right up there with drinking coffee in a graffiti-covered laneway.
Yet, prepare to mortgage your house to pay for drinks. But it’s so worth it. Found high up in the sky on level 55 of the Rialto Towers, smack bang in the middle of the CBD, the skyscraper views of Melbourne are ample compensation.
Get ready to be impressed
Originally I stumbled across Lui Bar when trying to find a drinks venue that would impress our visiting Adelaide friend Dan so much he’d have no choice but to move to Melbourne (given glow-in-the-dark mini golf had dramatically failed at this job).
However, on that particular night, we didn’t actually make it to level 55 with the wheels completely falling off our night, getting distracted playing vinyl and missing the train by 30 seconds despite an in-heel sprint (them, not me). Arriving at 11pm there was a 30-minute wait in the Rialto Towers foyer to be granted access to Lui Bar, which we sadly declined. In hindsight, if I knew what was waiting for us up in the sky, we should have just shut up and waited.
A week later, I returned with Jude and as soon as I set foot in Lui Bar I knew that Dan would have been so impressed he would already be packing up his red kerchiefs and designer socks, and half way to Melbourne, had we just waited.
What to expect
After finally being given the green light to go up (a 15-minute wait on this occasion), the elevator shoots you up into the sky so quickly that you don’t quite realise how high up you’ve gone. That is until you set foot on level 55 and get a glimpse out the windows, able to see a twinkling ocean of Port Phillip Bay-shaped lights as if you had the window seat on a Qantas flight.
Personally greeted on arrival, you’re escorted to your seats. The intimate bar, which sports a some-how classy Australiana feel, is made up of comfortable lounges for groups, intimate window-side tables for couples and bar seating around the island bar for those that just like to watch the flurry of cocktail-making. Originally seated at the bar, we were soon given the option to move window-side when a table became available. Needless to say, we were off our stools faster than you could say “old fashioned”.
I don’t remember Jude and I actually conversing with one another that night. We were both too enamoured with the 270-degree, blatant bird’s eye views out across the familiar faces of Melbourne’s city skyline: the Bolte Bridge, Crown Casino and Southbank. As it was a clear night, I could see absolutely everything, even without my glasses (AMAZING!).
Lui Bar provides the ultimate view of Melbourne
Although perhaps not that unique, as similar views can be bought at the Eureka Skydeck, which is all braggy with its 88 levels. But personally I would rather spend the $19.50 Eureka Skydeck entry fee on a super expensive glass of champagne and lounge about in luxury. As opposed to being crammed onto a viewing platform with a bunch of selfie stick-wielding tourists. Plus, Lui Bar also has an outdoors viewing platform if you’re so inclined – that’s if you want to develop frostbite and be blown away.
Expect super fancy. A serious dress code applies. There aren’t a pair of havianas in sight, but there is a diverse clientele; from old to young, those dripping in wealth to those who’ve sold their right kidney for that whiskey.
Drinks are top shelf, as you’d expect, and the snack food is not too bad either. I ordered a plate of the chickpea chips, which were surprisingly more appetising than they sound, served with a super rich, delicious sauce that would surely give you nightmares if you ate too much.
But if you’re seriously hungry and feeling extravagant, or have a cool couple of hundred to blow, have dinner next door at Vue de Monde and then head to Lui Bar for a nightcap.
Lui Bar is…
Lui Bar is on par with similar experiences in Singapore and London, yet right here in Melbourne, making it number 55 on the list of reasons why you must love Melbourne. Even if you just have one drink, Lui Bar is a Melbourne must.
Lui Bar | Level 55, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria
Phone: (03) 9691 3888