Sydney: Hotel Guides

James Wilkinson

Travel editor and commentator

Visitors seeking a central location and Harbour views have never been short of hotels to choose from here, but the 2000 Sydney Olympics added a slew of exceptional accommodation options to the city’s already rich pickings

Best for… Spa: The Langham

The Langham

The former Observatory Hotel has had a major makeover to bring it up to a Langham standard, which involved a remodelling of the entire building from the restaurant and bar to the rooms, lobby areas and spa – although the latter needed little touching up. The old Observatory was best known for its day spa, and the hotel can still claim to have one of the city’s finest pampering dens, where massages, facials, pedis and manis are all held in incredibly high regard. Want to go all-out? Book in for the Champagne and Gold Indulgence package, a 4.5-hour full-body pampering session plus Champagne lunch. At the Langham, you’ll also find a sumptuous afternoon tea in Palm Court, modern fare at Kent Street Kitchen and sumptuous accommodation – try for a Harbour-view terrace room.

89–113 Kent Street, Millers Point


Best for… Budget: ibis Sydney King Street Wharf

ibis Sydney King Street Wharf

Sat happily in the heart of the action without the big price tag, here you’re close to the bars and eateries of King Street Wharf, the aquarium and the city’s central business district (CBD), with the Harbour Bridge a ten-minute stroll away. Expect compact rooms (the one to book is a Superior Room which, at 13.6 sq metres, features an LCD TV, a mini fridge and tea and coffee making facilities, and that can take up to two adults and one child), restaurant serving breakfast and lunch, and a bar that’s open until 10:30pm. Plus, you’re close to a swag of great bars including Clever Little Tailor, so you can have a tipple there too.

22 Shelley Street, King Street Wharf


Best for… Luxury: Park Hyatt Sydney

Park Hyatt Sydney

Commanding the town’s best location under the Harbour Bridge and opposite the Opera House, Park Hyatt Sydney is widely regarded as the city’s leading luxury hotel thanks not just to those views, but also to its wonderfully well-appointed rooms. Think balconies overlooking the Harbour, plush beds, luxurious fittings, expansive bathrooms and, in the case of the top-floor suites, floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto private balconies and a 24-hour butler service. Off the lobby, which has the feeling of a private art gallery, there’s the bar (with fantastic classic and inventive cocktails) and the restaurant, serving up modern Australian cuisine. The day spa is also exquisite, while the rooftop pool and sundeck soaks up those billion-dollar views.

7 Hickson Road, The Rocks


Best for… Romance: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

House is just how it should be done at this hotel, which has been wooing romantics since well before the Olympics, when it changed name from The Regent. The action starts up at Grain bar, serving up dozens of different whiskies hailing from Japan to Scotland and Ireland to Tennessee. Head for a meal at the gastronomic Pei Modern, under the helm of popular Australian chef Mark Best, or if you’d rather dine entirely à deux, order to your room and soak up the views over dinner. And languorous lovers can rest easy; the hotel’s romance package includes a 3pm late check-out.

199 George Street



Best for… Food: Old Clare Hotel

Old Clare Hotel

It’s a shame Australia doesn’t have the Michelin Guide yet; this Chippendale hotel would surely be stacked with stars. The food at the Old Clare Hotel – owned by gastronomic hotel visionary Loh Lik Peng whose Unlisted Collection is fast becoming the globe’s hottest boutique chain – is led by star Brit chef Jason Atherton, whose Kensington Street Socials is all about superb Aussie seafood and meats. There’s also the second-floor Silvereye restaurant, helmed by Noma alumnus Sam Miller, where you’ll find pickling, fermenting, salting, curing and smoking; and Automata, led by Clayton Wells of Momofuku Seiobo, offering a seasonally-changing five-course menu. In the designer boutique hotel, the bar serves up local craft beer, cocktails and New South Wales wines, while upstairs has cool, comfortable rooms, lofts and showroom suites.

1 Kensington Street, Chippendale


Best for… Family: Swissotel Sydney

Swissotel Sydney

Few hotels in Sydney have gone to the effort to offer specific family rooms quite like Swissotel has, which has a series of dedicated spaces just for the little ones. Suited for little ones aged 2-12 each room is stocked up with age-appropriate toys, DVDs and video games, special bath amenities, a kids’ mini-bar, a children’s desk, and of course, colourful bed linen. They won’t be too far from the adults though, being adjoining rooms, although the hotel does offer a nanny service too. Kids aside, the hotel is in a superb location on Market Street and also serves up a high tea (at Crossroads Bar) that’s fast rising the ranks of the best in Sydney.

68 Market Street


Best for… Business The Westin Sydney

The Westin Sydney

Down on the pedestrian-only Martin Place in the heart of the city’s (Central Business District (CBD), the Westin Sydney is located in the town’s landmark General Post Office (GPO) – in the newer tower that rises beside it. Popular with the business set since it opened around the Olympics, the Westin has been the go-to property for suits thanks to its Executive Club Lounge on the 28th floor which offers beverages and snacks throughout the day, canapés in the evenings and, impressively, an hour’s complimentary use of the boardroom per guest stay. The expansive lobby lounge sits under the GPO’s glass roof and is popular for coffee and snacks all day long, while in the heritage building you’ll also find boutiques and eateries popular with local workers.

1 Martin Place


Best for… Design: Ovolo Sydney Woolloomooloo

Ovolo Sydney Woolloomooloo

The one-time W hotel and former Taj-owned Blue Sydney was recently given a designer makeover courtesy of its new owner, Hong Kong’s über-cool Ovolo Hotels, which remodelled the rooms, lobby and bar, bringing back to life one of the city’s favourite listed buildings on a pier. Sitting smartly along the world’s longest timber-piled wharf, all rooms overlook the water and enjoy smart, industrial-chic finishings, but the rock and roll-themed Ultraroo split-level suites come complete with a cocktail bar and stools, oversized couches, a 65-inch smart TV and separate powder rooms. Make sure you swing by Lo Lounge off the lobby for cocktails, games of snooker and kissing booths.

6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo


Best for… Cool: QT Sydney

QT Sydney

Known for its quirkiness, QT is Australia’s coolest hotel chain. The Sydney outpost, at home in the former Gowings department store and State Theatre buildings, incorporates elements of Gothic, Art Deco and Italiante-influenced architecture – throwing in cool, contemporary design for an achingly hip, smart vibe. Your experience here starts with a freshly brewed cuppa from Parlour Lane Roasters (or a beer on tap), then shave and haircut in the barber shop or a massage and facial in spaQ, before dinner at European Brasserie-cum-Modern Australian eatery Gowings Bar and Grill. Cocktails are to be had at Gilt Lounge before retiring to your room (check out the expansive QT State Suite) where you’ll find bespoke furniture, throws on beds and amongst other things, an emergency bow tie in the mini bar. After all, when it starts here, you never know where your evening will take you.

49 Market Street


Best for… Views: Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Make sure you score a corner table at cocktail lounge Blu Bar on level 36 of Shangri-La’s Sydney outpost, where you’ll be swigging back a martini whilst overlooking Sydney Harbour in a way many locals never have. Take that one step further and book a window table at Altitude Restaurant, which serves up contemporary Australian cuisine alongside top local wines and breath-taking views. Here’s a tip: book a Horizon Club room which won’t just give you a suite with views barrelling down the Harbour and a private check-in inside your room, but also access to the Horizon Club Lounge, which features windows several stories high overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, as well as evening drinks and canapés, boardroom access for an hour, a complimentary breakfast and drinks and snacks during the day.

176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks


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