Sydney needs no introduction; the dazzling Harbour City showing off with an embarrassment of attractions and sights, and a slick portfolio of hotels poised to make the most of them.
Whether you want to awaken gazing at the Sydney Opera House, love to sleep in surroundings packed with personality, enjoy creature comforts on a budget, or are visiting with family in tow, here are four ways to experience the best of Sydney’s accommodation.
Standout stays for those ready to appreciate the finer things in life.
Locations don’t get much better than that enjoyed by the Park Hyatt Sydney in The Rocks, with some suites here dazzling with simultaneous Opera House and Harbour Bridge views, and ferries coming and going in between.
You’ll also glimpse the city’s major landmarks from the Crown Sydney, set in a cloud-piercing highrise dominating the west harbour precinct of Barangaroo. Fourteen restaurants and bars await, as does the city’s sexiest pool.
By vertical contrast, Pier One Sydney Harbour is built over the water in Walsh Bay, in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge and steps from The Rocks, Circular Quay and he city’s premier theatre district. Alternatively, bed down at The Langham Sydney, which occupies an equally low-slung building nearby in a leafy nook of The Rocks, the intimate property radiating indulgence.
Sleep with your curtains open for floor-to-ceiling sunrise views at the Sofitel Darling Harbour, overlooking the action from its waterside perch beside the International Convention Centre. The view from the hotel’s infinity pool isn’t too bad, either.
Sydney is known for eclectic inner-city neighbourhoods; perhaps the most atmospheric is Surry Hills. Here you’ll find design-driven Paramount House Hotel, its rooms combining bespoke furnishings with lovingly restored heritage aspects of the former Paramount Picture Studios HQ building it occupies.
You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean when you arrive at Jonah’s Boutique Hotel, all crisp whites and ocean blues and tiered down a hill overlooking Whale Beach. You can drive to this northern haunt – it’s an hour from the city – or arrive like royalty in a seaplane from Rose Bay.
When the purse-strings are tighter, but you don’t want to compromise on comfort.
Set above Surry Hills’ popular Harry’s bar and diner, Hotel Harry retains elements of its heritage 1912 building, but with a whimsical design twist. Rooms are spacious and light filled, and within easy walk of major shopping and dining precincts.
In nearby Haymarket, the heart of Chinatown, The Ultimo Sydney bills itself as the world’s first “astrology hotel”, with packages tailored to different zodiac signs. Thoughtful details include original art throughout.
Song Hotel Sydney also enjoys an enviable setting close to the CBD. If you’re travelling solo you won’t be forgotten, with a selection of single rooms available. It’s a similar story at the city’s Capsule Hotel, where you’ll find surprisingly spacious single and premium pods kitted out with crisp linens, air-con, Wi-Fi and every tech port you might need. Bathrooms are communal, as are kitchen and laundry facilities.
Rooms are minimal but comfortable at Vibe Rushcutters Bay, with the real draw being the setting – just metres from the harbour. You’ll gain perspective from the shimmering rooftop pool, offering standout views over this inner-east neighbourhood and the water.
On the other side of the city, the Inner West’s Newtown – with its endless parade of restaurants and quirky shops – hosts two affordable boutique lodgings. The intimate Sydney Park Hotel offers just eight rooms above a historic pub, each individually styled with original art, vintage furniture and obscure curios. Studios at the industrial chic The Urban Newtown are so generous, there’s space for a well-kitted kitchen.
When you need extra space and attractions to entertain multi-generations.
You don’t need to travel to Africa to fall asleep listening to monkeys chattering and elephants trumpeting; catch a ferry to the North Shore suburb of Mosman to check into Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo. A stay here gives you exclusive after-hours access to the animals, and you’ll bed down in safari-style tents with unbelievable views over the harbour.
You can also sleep in a tent in the middle of the harbour on Cockatoo Island, its scenic campground just steps from the water. Your canvas tents and sleeping mats are provided, with luxe add-ons like linens, toiletries and sun lounges available.
If you prefer your slumber within four walls, cruise back to Circular Quay to the Pullman Quay Grand Harbour Hotel. The one- and two-bedroom apartments here come with garden or water views, as well as living areas, full kitchens and laundry facilities. Similar amenities are on offer at Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach, with light-filled one- to three-bedroom apartments enjoying the added bonus of being in walking distance from Australia’s most famous curve of sand.
Families wanting to stretch out in the centre of the city, near Darling Harbour’s kid-friendly attractions, will love the spacious two-bedroom serviced apartments at Fraser Suites Sydney, each with a kitchenette, living area and knock-out views.
Little guests will feel at home at the Swissôtel Sydney, with the option to transform any room (adjoining Mum and Dad’s) into a kids’ paradise – think colourful bed linens, child-friendly minibar snacks, toys and endless entertainment.
For those who like a little character injected into their stay.
As its name suggests, the Harbour Rocks Hotel is near the water in the historic Rocks district – you’ll only need to walk a couple of minutes to reach Circular Quay. The setting is a grand 1887 building, with many flourishes preserved to create individually styled rooms and suites.
You won’t need to walk far from Sydney Harbour to find the Establishment Hotel either, which is tucked down Bridge Lane and surrounded by the CBD’s small bars and stellar restaurants. Much of the character here comes from thoughtful preservation of the 1930s building’s original beams, soaring ceiling and cast-iron fixtures.
Still in the city, the QT Sydney is seriously fun. There’s something to distract wherever you look, whether floor-to-ceiling neon installations in the lobby or elevators that customise music and lighting depending on passenger numbers. Funky rooms sit over two historic buildings, above a popular restaurant and bar.
Travel a suburb east to Surry Hills for Crystalbrook Albion, which feels more like an upscale home than a hotel. From customised velvet curtains to designer armchairs and deep-soak tubs, no two rooms are the same. End your day with a glass of wine on the rooftop patio.
Chippendale’s Spice Alley is one of the city’s most happening culinary precincts and home to The Old Clare. The hotel’s design-forward rooms, suites and lofts occupy heritage-listed buildings from the former Carlton United Brewery – architects have lovingly restored elements of timber panelling, parquetry, cornices and lighting throughout, and topped it with a dreamy pool and bar.
If the playful lobby at Ovolo Woolloomooloo doesn’t win you over, then its art-filled rooms surely will, sprawling across an historic finger wharf with commanding views of sparkling water and superyachts.
Gain a different perspective of the harbour from Hotel Palisade in Millers Point, its eight rooms arrayed in seafaring shades, with marine murals to remind you of your waterside setting. If you forget, the Harbour Bridge is just outside your window.