5 Bridge Ln., CBD
The Establishment caters to the visitor who wants to be in the center of the action, who appreciates a lively ambiance, and one who is eager to knock elbows with some fun-loving locals.
The Old Clare Hotel
1 Kensington St., Chippendale
The Old Clare is just off of a major renovation, and the results are stunning. A former brewery, the (now) sixty-two-room boutique hotel doesn't fit one design genre—the guest rooms and common areas vary greatly.
7 Hickson Rd., The Rocks
Sydney's Park Hyatt has near-perfect views of the iconic opera house (request a harbor-facing room), serene guest rooms, and an amazing spa.
339 Pitt St., CBD
The careful renovation of Sydney’s old Water Board HQ is a lesson in Art Deco restoration. Every feature that could be salvaged was. The lobby is articulated with the original, soaring pillars made of bloodred scagliola—a type of imitation marble, hugely popular in seventeenth-century Tuscany—restored by a team of Italian specialists. Carpets are marked with strong geometric Art Deco–style prints, and rooms feel quite masculine, decked out in cobalt blues, creams, and grey. An unexpected element (given that we’re in the heart of downtown) is the rooftop, populated with a sixty-five-foot pool, cabanas, and a bar. Swimming laps surrounded by the skyscrapers is both a little weird and oddly serene.
35 Bettington St., Millers Point
Hotel Palisade is not necessarily one for the kids, but if you’re a consenting adult who savors a good cocktail, likes a rooftop, and appreciates a view, welcome home. The building, just beneath the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge in Moller’s Point, lay dormant for years. After a stunning restoration, antique touches, like old rotary-dial telephones and Roberts radios, are juxtaposed with a clean maritime color scheme and incredible views of the city. PSA: The hotel doesn’t serve breakfast—which is fine, as Sydney invented brunch—but for dinner, the restaurant delivers, and the Henry Deane cocktail bar cannot be beat for its Negroni and that view.
89-113 Kent St., Millers Point
Most major cities have at least one old grande dame hotel, the kind of place that’s made entirely of marble and has towering orchid displays in every corner and beds so big and soft and comfortable, your jet-lagged body could cry with relief. The Langham is one such hotel. Classic English afternoon tea takes place at the Palm Court, a London cab—in the Langham’s signature shade of blush—is on hand to drive you around, and the pool and tennis courts mean there’s no excuse not to indulge in the outdoorsy lifestyle Sydney is famous for. The concierge is the best in town, so tickets to exhibits and, ideally, a show at the opera house are not a problem. Take advantage.
6 Cowper Wharf Rd., Woolloomooloo
Ovolo is a hotel for the design-minded. There are several locations of this hotel chain, but we’re partial to Woolloomooloo with its bright, occasionally cheeky, approach to hospitality. There’s a well-equipped gym (open twenty-four hours), a modern vibe throughout, an inviting lounge where you can play a few rounds of pool, and—this was a first for us—the minibar is complimentary. Guest rooms feel optimistic and contemporary, with generous bookshelves, interior balconies, playful wall decorations of things like two enormous orange fish staring at each other, and brightly colored, edgy furniture—mustard-yellow chaises longues, pink stools, Alexas, iPads, and Apple TVs. Another plus: Ovolo has its own Spotify playlist to set the tone.
Paramount House Hotel
80 Commonwealth St., Surry Hills
Surry Hills is one of those inherently stylish, jaw-droppingly clean Sydney neighborhoods. Nineteenth-century terraces and picture-perfect cafés packed with glowing Sydneysiders sipping velvety flat whites abound. Paramount House Hotel fits right in with this almost-too-good-to-be-true vibe. Every piece of furniture and decorative detail is a celebration of Australia. The unusual, Japanese-style tubs in the bathrooms are carved from Australian timber (with Aesop products perched conveniently on the ledge), beds are made up with pastel Aussie linens, and minibars are teeming with local cheeses and charcuterie. Each guest room is designed to be flooded with light, and between the famous Paramount Coffee Project nestled in the lobby and beloved hotel restaurant Poly—a sister to Ester—Paramount House caters as much to locals as to visitors.