Athan Didaskalou: Collingwood, Melbourne’s hippest neighbourhood

Athan Didaskalou’s luggage brand, July, was born out of his love of travel. He wanted to create a case that had all the things he wanted but couldn’t find: a lightweight but hardwearing shell with a handle that stops wherever you want it to, a power bank with an ejectable battery, and a colour scheme of the sort that you want to be seen with. Its first carry-on was a hit and now it’s expanded to a full range of luggage, which it has just launched in the UK. We talked to him about his dream day in Collingwood, Melbourne’s buzziest neighbourhood.

In Collingwood you start the day at Cibi (cibi.com.au), where they make the most authentic Japanese breakfast I’ve ever had. It’s got a similar vibe to Koya in London and the thing to order is the traditional breakfast of rice, a couple of strips of cooked salmon, a chopped-up egg roll, miso soup and a cold pickle salad. Delicious. 

Cibi Japanese Breakfast

Melbourne is a big coffee-drinking city, so after that I would head to Allpress. Ten years ago, it took over a factory in Collingwood and turned it into a roastery with this amazing inside/outside courtyard full of vines and climbing plants. The area around it is still pretty industrial and it’s a beautiful refuge from that. 

Allpress, Melbourne

Over the past few years, the neighbourhood has become a bit of a magnet for progressive brands and so after breakfast I’d do some shopping. I’d start at Aesop which does great skincare products. It’s a Melbourne brand and its Collingwood store was the first. It opened back when Gertrude Street was still pretty run down, and it made for a funny juxtaposition, this beautiful store next to a used refrigerator shop. Now, there are all kinds of great stores on Gertrude Street including some nice second-hand clothes shops and a really cool shoe brand called Rollie Nation. I’d then pop to Smith Street, where I’d head to the Modern Times gallery, which exhibits contemporary Australian art and vintage European furniture. 

Modern Times Gallery

For lunch, I’d choose Alimentari, a smart Italian deli that’s got a bit of an Ottolenghi feel with its heaped plates of harissa-roasted carrots and herby salads that you can mix and match. 

After lunch, I would book in for the two-hour bathing session at Sense of Self, which is just the most beautifully designed spa, full of plants and lovely natural light. It’s got a mineral bath, a Finnish sauna and a plunge pool, and is a great place to spend an afternoon. 

After all that self-care I’d be ready for an ice-cream and so I would walk to Piccolina for its constantly changing gelato menu that always has a couple of interesting specials like burnt coconut or rosemary chocolate.  


For pre-dinner drinks there’s a secret, speakeasy-style bar called Above Board. To get into it you have to walk through a bottle shop with kegs and you get to the back of it and open up this door, which leads into this beautiful bar. It only hosts eight people or so, but it does some of the best cocktails you can ever get.

Builders Arms

For dinner itself, it’s got to be the Builders Arms. It’s run by Andrew McConnell, who is one of Melbourne’s most famous chefs. The vibe is very casual and it is famous for its phenomenal fish pie. Every Tuesday they cook rotisserie chicken over charcoal and people line up for it, it’s so good. 

And I’d finish the night at Everleigh, which is an old-school Melbourne institution, where the barmen wear traditional vests and frills and they do a mean dry gin martini with a twist.

You can buy Athan’s luggage at july.com

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