Like all great things in Melbourne, the Melbourne Central Parents Retreat is hard to find.
It’s unmarked, unsigned and down an alleyway in between Decjuba and a jeweller on Level 2 – but instead of an underground bar you have a bright, spacious parents room.
The room has all the facilities you’d expect from a parents room – change tables, bins, toilets, breastfeeding cubicles, microwave – as well some unexpected pleasures. I loved the mini climbing wall and child-sized rails and tunnels for exploring, the swinging sitting ropes for impatient toddlers waiting for their parents, the bright booths for eating and activities (plus child-proof gates for any bolters) and the cheerful colour schemes in the comfortable furniture and the wall decorations.
Furthermore, the place is scrupulously neat. The many change tables are all clean, the floors have been vacuumed so no random items will find themselves into little mouths and all the benches and chairs seemed to be almost unused. I didn’t hesitate to plop NKOTB on a table so that I could feed her lunch.
Designed by Clare Cousins Architects, the Parents’ Retreat is a really nice place to hang out away from the bustle of the city and the shopping centre. On a weekday lunch hour we were the only people there, bar the cleaner, so NKOTB could bang plastic lids and babble loudly to her heart’s content.
My only quibbles are minor – if they could transfer a few of the high chairs from the food court to inside the Parents’ Retreat it would make feeding much easier. Also, some paper towels for cleaning up and paper/plastic cups for the water fountain would be appreciated.