In a world where international travel is scarce, we’re taking solace in finding adventure in our own city, whether that means escaping to a secluded beach or wrapping ourselves in plush robes in a foreign room. Sydney’s hotels are iconic and luxurious. There is The Langham, the recently opened Crown Sydney, and the traveller’s favourite. Sofitel.
While they are all well and good, the harbour city is also home to hidden laneway gems, eclectic finds and repurposed heritage buildings. So whether you’re after plush comforts, trendy digs or harbour views, here, best hotels in Sydney.
Millers Point The Langham is the Caesars Palace of Sydney. Here, everything is about being extra, from the little finger sandwiches at afternoon tea to the painted sky ceiling in the pool area. This is no cheap stay, but it is one that keeps true to the saying “you get what you pay for.” At best, you will spend $430/night, but this price drastically increases depending on room type. Still, you get the prime position of Millers Point, all the luxuries you could want and an observatory bar serving Australia’s most romantic cocktail: The Pink Rose. Book here.
Walsh Bay Set in a repurposed heritage building, Pier One offers five-star luxury on the waterfront, but with an affordable price tag. The style is modern, without being overly stuffy. The rooms are approachable and comfortable, and some have views of the Harbour Bridge. As part of the Marriott Bonvoy empire, booking here will also earn you points if you’re a member. If not, Pier One is still an ideal option for those seeking affordable luxury. Bookhere.
Barangaroo Aptly named, the Crown Sydney sitting harbourside in Barangaroo is quickly earning a reputation as the crown of Sydney’s hotel scene. Its sparkling spire has caught the eyes of many, but for those wanting to step inside the high roller, life will have to pay up–$940 to be exact. Although that’s the minimum for a Harbour View King Room. The tower offers a multitude of dining concepts from the renowned Nobu to local Chefs experimenting with wood and a 12-seat omakase room in the back. This is a splurge, but given you had to cancel that trip to Italy last summer, it might be worth it. Book here.
Woolloomooloo If you’ve never stayed at an Ovolo hotel, keep it in mind for your next staycation or holiday. Ovolo has a knack for making everything cool. Their Woolloomooloo site sits on Finger Wharf and channels a young, energetic, boutique and cheeky vibe. The exposed wooden beams and timber flooring from bygone days is mixed with bright, modern furnishings and technology scattered throughout. There are even rockstar suites: the INXS and AC/DC rooms. However, Ovolo’s most favourable assets are the freebies: minibar and social happy hour. What more could you want? Book here.
Surry Hills Walking down a laneway in Surry Hills, you wouldn’t expect to find a designer hotel, nonetheless, Little Albion awaits, and no two rooms are the same. The boutique hotel embodies more of a local guest-house experience than a hotel room. Each room has its own identity, whether it’s getting lost in the romance of blush pink velvet or cosying up to a mix of 20s and 70s textures—Little Albion is a true hidden gem. Book here.
CBD Art Deco lovers rejoice, QT Sydney is every Gatsby and Daisy’s dream stay. After all, who doesn’t love decadence? The rooms are dramatic, clad in colours and texture. Its prime location on Market Street makes it a popular choice for those looking to explore Sydney’s restaurants, shopping, and Harbour life. Best of all, you can book a room for as little as $250/night. Given its offerings, that’s not a bad price for a Sydney hotel. Book here.
Watsons Bay Watsons Bay Hotel is packed most weekends with Vaucluse residents sipping rosé, but above the pub is a hotel, resembling a Hamptons-chic lodging. Here, they embrace the slow life. Breakfast becomes brunch, long barefoot strolls on the sand are considered productive and sundowner sippers turn to lavish seafood dinners under the stars. Here, travellers unplug and escape reality even if for a night. This hotel is also a splurge at $360/night minimum. Book here.
Circular Quay In terms of location, you can’t beat Pullman Quay Grand in Circular Quay. On one side you have views of the Harbour Bridge and the other is occupied by the Opera House and within close walking distance to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Inside, you will find luxury apartment-style rooms, equipped with a kitchen, laundry, and separate dining, lounge areas. Because it is a luxury hotel, the price is upwards of $300/night, however, if you’re looking for a prime location, this is one of the best places to book and you will love the views. Book here.
Millers Point Most will know Hotel Palisade as a historic pub; a place to get a pint with friends. Although a fresh coat of paint, luxury furnishings and rooftop bar transformed the pub into a destination. Sandwiched between the ground floor pub and rooftop bar, are eight rooms filled with natural light. Quarters are tight, given the building’s structure, but most rooms include a queen or king bed and marble-tiled federation-style ensuites. The hand-painted wall murals in each room almost make you forget there is no in-room Wifi or air conditioning. Although for $200/night, it’s a good option if you want to experience a piece of history and a prime Sydney location. Bookhere.
Mascot Airport hotels are beginning to look nothing like an airport hotel and travellers are loving it. The TWA in New York stunned visitors, now the Citadines Connect Sydney Hotel is channelling the golden era of air travel. Gone are the days of drab colours and monotone hallways. Today, it’s all about millennial pinks, bright pastels, and creature comforts. There’s a 24-hour grab and go restaurant with sushi, sandwiches and organic beverages, a gym and cocktail bar. Price varies on the tier, which ranges from economy to first class. Business travellers can also take full advantage of the workspaces. Book here.
Darling Harbour This hotel oozes French luxury, which is not surprising given it carries the name Sofitel. Think deep-soaking tubs with Darling Harbour views, lavish suites, a French restaurant and a pool bar. Its central location is popular among travellers and the locals seem to enjoy the amenities and staycation vibes. Although a room will set you back $350/night at the minimum and that’s for a standard room. Suites are much more, but if you get a corner room, they’re larger and have the best views through floor-to-ceiling-windows. Book here.
Bondi This seaside breezy hotel in Bondi attracts the uber-hip crowd and travellers looking to stay in Bondi for a reasonable price. Managed by the quirky QT Brand, expect chic mellow, meets art, meets bold colours and a sense of salty cool. The family-friendly hotel is situated near Bronte and Bondi Beach, the main shopping district and several restaurants, of which the reception is happy to recommend. A king room will set you back around $260/night, but if you become a member, you can get cheaper rates and perks. Book here.
CBD Converted into a hotel from a former leather factory warehouse, this hotel combines both industrial and contemporary style attracting wayward travellers. Rooms on the first three floors have exposed beam high ceilings and polished concrete floors while rooms on higher levels offer fresh modern décor and views of the CBD. A custom made zinc roof –the largest of this style dome in Australia—completes the hotel’s unique look. All suites are equipped with fully functional kitchens, making them perfect for short and longer stays. Veriu also has several other locations including Randwick, Central, Camperdown, and Green Square. Book here.
Barangaroo Hilton hotels are world-renowned so we would be amiss if we didn’t mention at least one. West Hotel has a vintage, botanical vibe in the heart of Sydney’s newest neighbourhood, Barangaroo. The 182 designer rooms and suites are equipped for the busy traveller, but can also be an option for a romantic staycation. After all, we can’t get to the tropical destinations at the moment. Enjoy delicious Australian cuisine at Solander, where the vibe is relaxed and casual. The terrazzo marble bar also has major botanical vibes. Book here.
Darling Harbour Housed in a former wool warehouse, Ovolo 1888 in Darling Harbour has plenty of character and makes any stay an adventure. Each room pays homage to its history– exposed brick walls meet punchy Australian pop art and a mix of vibrant furnishings. Downstairs, Mister Percy serves up vegetarian Italian dishes including handmade pasta, accompanied by pours from local vineyards to as far as the Meditteranean. The hotels’ biggest draw is the vintage decor, old-worldly charm and contemporary accents that make it a unique stay, not to mention the convenient location to the harbour and its boutique cafe’s. Book here.
Potts Point Spicers Potts Point has a distinctly urban feel. The three pretty white terrace houses sitting on a tree-lined street could have something to do with it. The allure of 19th Century architecture together with the modernities that comes with the Spicers brand makes this boutique hotel a favourite option for those looking for a great location and classic inner-city hotel experience. The breakfast is not to be missed and is served in the Garden Room, which is outfitted with potted succulents and botanicals all over. While the hotel has it all, it will cost you, around $430 to be exact, but breakfast is included. Book here.
Chippendale Inspired by surrounding art galleries, design studios, cafes and restaurants, The Old Clare Hotel keeps curious travellers in mind. Each room has a different colour palette, quirk, and theme. It’s far from a generic hotel, which makes this industrial-chic hotel one of Sydney’s best. In 2019, the hotel added a glamorous wing, offering seven art deco rooms, each with its own lush furnishings and cast-iron bathtubs. While you might never want to leave the room, there is so much exploring to do. Chippendale is home to much of Sydney’s heritage, which can be found in its restaurants, shops and cafes. Book here.
Surry Hills Located in the former headquarters of Paramount Picture Studios, this hotel brings a mix of heritage to their stylish rooms. There are 29 rooms, each a different size thanks to the buildings original structure. Although some are small like the Nook, each is cleverly designed to make use of the space. The Sunny rooms feature terrazzo tiled bathrooms and alcoves with plants while the Mack Daddy spans four light-filled spaces with a private balcony, bedroom and lounge. Each room feels lived in, making it more of a home than a hotel. You also have the advantage of being located in Surry Hills which plays host to some of Sydney’s top restaurants and bars. Book here.
Mosman Most hotels have a perk, whether it’s free breakfast or happy hour, but this eco-retreat offers the chance to wake up to a koala sleeping by your balcony. The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo was a highly-anticipated opening, a first-of-its-kind in Sydney and it remains a top experience for families and couples. Each lodge is environmentally sensitive and sustainably designed and comes with breakfast, a guided tour and two-day access to the zoo. The sanctuary is shared with red kangaroos, Tammar Wallabies, echidnas and koalas, giving guests the chance to wake up to the sounds of wildlife and views of the harbour. For a unique, stay it doesn’t get any better than a zoo sleepover. Book here.
CBD Here is another warehouse, industrial-style hotel in Sydney, preserving the city’s publishing history. Establishment Hotel features rustic beams, soaring ceilings and cast-iron fixtures, all leftover from the 1930’s publishing house. Its location is a mere stroll to the Opera House and The Rocks, which is home to several hole-in-the-wall bars and some of the city’s top restaurants. For $230/night, this hotel is an affordable option and comes with a ton of history and stylish rooms that look more like magazine spreads than hotel rooms. Book here.
Despite last year’s best efforts, Sydney’s hospitality scene continues to thrive—as do Sydneysiders. We mourned the casualties of lockdown and while we hoped for new beginnings this year, it hasn’t turned out quite as we expected. Nevertheless, we march on and this list of new restaurants and bars opening is the bright light we inch toward as we approach to exit this tunnel someday.
So, what’s on the horizon for Sydney’s dining scene? Kylie Kwong is set to launch her latest concept, everyone’s favourite 50’s bartenders will don a new suit at a new establishment, Neil Perry ventures to Double Bay for a restaurant that is all his own, and a zero-waste bar is to make its debut soon.
This is just the beginning. We hope to see many more exciting venues opening over the year. For now, here are the city’s most anticipated openings for 2021.
Kylie Kwong at South Eveleigh
Kylie Kwong is no stranger to Sydney with the better part of two decades on the dining scene. Her Potts Point establishment, Billy Kwong was a favourite but when it closed in 2019, people have been waiting for the powerhouse chefs next steps. We’re happy to tell you, she is coming back on the scene with her biggest project yet, South Eveleigh. Formerly known as Australian Technology Park, South Eveleigh is an emerging dining destination of which Kwong is the ambassador. Expect a relaxed daytime venue featuring local indigenous produce with her signature Cantonese culinary style. It’s a world away from Billy Kwong, but it is set to bring new meaning to the word ‘casual eatery’. She will also focus on sustainability, with the South Eveleigh Native Rooftop Garden and seafood from Josh Niland’s Fish Butchery.
Core at Crown Sydney
English Chef, Clare Smyth, is the first and only female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars, Core in Notting Hill. She even catered for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s private wedding reception. It seems fitting to bring her talent’s to Sydney’s new rising star, Crown Sydney. In February, Smyth plans to introduce another Core to the tower, which focuses on local produce, and sustainability. The wines will be local as are the ingredients. This isn’t Smyth’s first introduction to Australia. She’s travelled around the country, which inspired the menu, offering the best Australia has to offer.
It’s almost here, our favourite Ratpack bartenders are opening Sammy Junior, a suave cafe on the ground level of 66 King Street in the CBD. The espresso coffee bar will be the highlight of the morning trade, offering a bespoke Sammy coffee blend crafted by coffee connoisseur Martin Hudak (2017 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion and Mr Black Ambassador) alongside a short selection of classic breakfast bites from consultant chef Rob Lechowicz (Blackwood Pantry).In the afternoon, the focus will be mini cocktails which will be on tap alongside a beer and a few wines. The cheeky small doses of cocktails will be best enjoyed alongside an afternoon business meeting or as an after-work tipple but don’t expect to settle in for the night. Sammy Junior will shut from about 6 pm so head down to Maybe Sammy in The Rocks to continue the evening. Architect George Livissianis (Chin Chin Sydney, The Apollo, Cho Cho San, The Dolphin Hotel) will bring to life the interiors. Expect some visual similarities to Maybe Sammy.
Neil Perry in Double Bay
A household name, Neil perry is opening is first solo project mid-year after a 40-year career. Don’t expect to draw similarities to Rock Pool, this restaurant in Double Bay is all his own. The 170-seat venue will focus on plant-based dishes and salads during the day, with a selection of grilled options. Expect an approachable restaurant, with interiors by ACME (Mimi’s, the Grounds) and designer David Caon. The unnamed restaurant is highly anticipated with locals and diners who have followed Perry throughout his career. The new venue is Perry’s way of breathing life back into Double Bay, an area he spent many years dining in.
Aria Wine Bar
Aria is a Sydney institution, serving fine dining to locals and visitors for several years. This year it’s transforming part of the restaurant into a relaxed wine bar. Yes, it will be serving food, so if you don’t want to splash out on the full menu, you can head to the bar for wine and snacks. The wine list will be the highlight, which includes over 80 wines by the glass and 1700 bottles. Anna Solomon (co-owner and Solotel’s creative director), Matt Moran, Joel Bickford (Aria head chef), and Alex Kirkwood (head sommelier) are the creative minds behind the fresh, laid back experience. The bar will celebrate the pillars of Aria’s 20-year success, at the same time offering locals a new side of Aria. One of which doesn’t require a reservation to enjoy cocktails, and snacks from Bickford.
Re is perhaps the most exciting addition to our diverse restaurant and bar landscape. The boundary-pushing bar will be the world’s first permanent no-waste bar opening up an entirely new category, one we can get behind. Matt Whiley of Scout and Maurice Terzini from Icebergs and CicciaBella are the masterminds behind this new concept swinging its doors open sometime in February. The bar puts sustainability at the forefront, which includes the interior. Set in a heritage list- 19th Century railway engineering workshop the fit-out is comprised of recycled and repurposed building materials. The bar and tabletops are designed from recycled plastic bottles and Tupperware containers. Food that would otherwise go to waste will be given new life in cocktails, with spirit-heavy options. There is to be a food menu from Chefs Alex Prichard (Icebergs) and Nic Wong (Cicciabella).
There’s a new Greek restaurant coming to town from Greek-Australian Chef, Peter Conistis. Ploos, will find it’s home in Campbell’s Stores, the dining precinct in Circular Quay. Conistis is known for his restaurants, Alpha, Omega, and Cosmos, so Ploos is rumoured to be a fresh venue. Expect South Mediterranian dishes you would find in Crete or Cypriot, an oversized eat-at-bar, and harbour views. Ploos is slated to open in March 2021.