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The most beautiful stretch of Melbourne retail real estate unquestionably belongs to the Block Arcade. Opened in 1892, the grandiose arcade immediately astonishes visitors with its ornate French Rennaissance style architecture – think tall, sweeping arches, delicate cornices and a fancy pants decorative tiled floor.
Don't be fooled by its pretty face though: Block Arcade is still a functional shopping arcade open to all. But you have to be something special to get a slice of the pie here, and every retailer has something a little bit luxe to offer. Enter off Collins Street and you'll immediately be greeted by the queues outside Hopetoun Tea Rooms, a Victorian-era tea room offering cakes pretty enough to leave your diet at the door.
Granted probably more window shoppers than actual shoppers pass through Block Arcade each day, all eager to take a geez into shops like Georg Jensen, Crabtree & Evelyn, the French Jewel Box, Card & Caboodle and the cocoa kings Haighs chocolatiers. If you'd rather not queue for your lunch (seriously Hopetoun is packed on the regular) check out one of the many hole-in-the-wall cafés that are stacked shoulder to shoulder in Block Place.