In Sydney, a city synonymous with sun, sea and surf, it’s fitting that the best hotels are high-end and laid-back in equal measure. From celebrity hangouts to boutique seaside stays, here’s where you should stay on your next visit to the Harbour City.
Sydney is justifiably famous for its yacht-dotted harbour and iconic locations like the glittering Bondi Icebergs Club. But head away from these sights and you’ll find city streets teeming with top restaurants, chic boutiques and cutting-edge galleries – all ripe for exploration and right on the doorstep of these nine hotels.
Hollywood stars have long frequented The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach, and its easy to understand their lust for the location. The hotel is a mix of contemporary guest rooms and serviced apartments done up in a soothing nautical palette and overlooking the beach, where it’s all fish and chips, seagulls and a conveyor belt of beachgoers clad in boardies and bikinis. Manly Wine – a breezy beachside restaurant and wine bar – is right next door and reason enough to stay, especially now that it’s linked to the lobby of The Sebel.
The attention to detail at this arty Sydney hotel is impressive, with everything from the flamboyant furnishings to the tattooed, red-wigged front door team who are like cheerleaders for the city. The QT Hotel sits within the historic Gowings and State Theatre buildings and offers up quirky like no other hotel can, with all the feels of a 1940s French bordello. There are 200 guest suites at the hotel, which is an architectural mashup of Gothic, Art Deco and Italianate influences. Book a beard trim at the spaQ Barber Shop and then drape yourself over a velvety chair in the Gilt Lounge.
Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour is located within a historic converted wool store just a short walk from the Darling Harbour waterfront. The award-winning heritage hotel bridges past and future beautifully with its industrial-chic rooms that range from shoebox-sized to 35-square-metre (377-square-foot) junior suites splashed with graffiti art and stocked with a complimentary minibar and snacks. Some of the best fun to be had is settling in for aperitivo at the hotel’s restaurant, Mister Percy, named for the wool classer at the original wool store where the restaurant now resides.
The Medusa Boutique Hotel sits on a quiet section of Darlinghurst Road and is an old favourite because of its proximity to the CBD, Harbour and Opera House. The converted terrace is popular during Mardi Gras as it’s just a few feather boa-lengths away from all the action on Oxford Street and around Kings Cross. Although the rooms are compact, they are beautifully appointed, and the decor – from the hot pink façade to the bold feature walls – lends it a romantic charm. Choose a Grand Room with a chaise lounge, and bring your fur baby – this is a pet-friendly hotel.
The Old Clare Hotel stretches between two heritage-listed buildings and provides plenty of reasons to live out of a suitcase for a few days. There are seven different suite styles at the hotel, which fall under categories such as Bang for Your Buck and La Di Da, as well as two brilliant restaurants – Automata and A1 Canteen – both run by chef Clayton Wells.At the end of the day, pop into The Clare Bar for a Sydney Sinner Mule cocktail alongside a motley crew of students, business folk and beautifully dishevelled bohemians.
The views from Shangri-La Hotel over Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are up there with the very best of them. After checking into a deluxe suite overlooking the Harbour City, take the concierge’s advice and book a treatment at CHI, the Spa, before enjoying a leisurely dinner at Altitude Restaurant. There are 565 finely furnished rooms at the hotel, which is perfect for art lovers, as the MCA Gallery is right around the corner.
It doesn’t get more Eastern Suburbs Sydney than the Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel, which is where beautiful people go to sip on Aperol spritzes in the sun. The atmosphere here is always summery, and the hotel is within walking distance of Camp Cove, Bondi Beach and even the CBD. The focus at this hotel is on having fun, and it’s one of the most stylish boutique hotels in the city of Sydney to enjoy a seaside stay. Plan to be on the top deck for a sundowner as the sun slips behind the horizon.
SKYE Suites will appeal to techy types who can curate song lists via Mustard Music’s Secret DJ platform, which can be played in the lobby, in the swimming pool or in the gym. Unwind at the end of the day in front of your flatscreen TV (complete with Netflix) or take a dip in the futuristic indoor pool, which is perfect for the chillier winter months. The striking CBD building has two glass-and-steel towers that jut into the sky, and the ice cave-themed lobby here is one of Sydney’s most Instagrammed spots.
The West Hotel is a sophisticated addition to the Curio Collection by Hilton and is full of designer touches and bespoke botanical motifs. The light-filled atrium is the centrepiece of the hotel, edged with thick plantings of palms and flowing into Solander, the dining room and bar. Play, then stay in one of the premium designer rooms with their dreamy headboards, velvety, jewel-hued soft furnishings and views of the nearby Barangaroo precinct.