People thought property mogul Tim Gurner was crazy to build a hotel in the gritty Melbourne suburb, but maybe he’s tapped into the zeitgeist.

“Good old Collingwood forever, they know how to play
the game…”

Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m most definitely not a fan of Melbourne’s most polarising AFL club, but the team’s song is seared into my brain after a friend dragged me into enemy territory on the night of the Magpies’ grand final win last September. Collingwood’s main drag of Smith St was heaving with happy revellers belting it out. Even the trams scuttling past seemed to be dinging along to the ditty. It was a pure Melbourne moment.

The buzz seems to have hardly dissipated when I return two months later for the official opening of the 95-room Veriu Collingwood, the latest in a rapidly proliferating brand of boutique apartment hotels that have a knack for popping up in the right place at the right time. It’s the second Veriu for Melbourne, following last year’s opening of Veriu Queen Victoria Market, and joining five in Sydney. Forget “build it and they will come”. According to Veriu chief executive Zed Sanjana, the strategy is “build it where our customers want to be”. And this is an area evolving faster than the cranes can keep up.

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