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.
15 Bligh St., CBD
Restaurant Hubert is the antithesis of most Sydney restaurants. Instead of the open-plan, bright, rustic serenity that pervades most of the city's dining establishments, Hubert is dark, romantic, and theatrical.
Level 1, 10-14 Bulletin Pl., CBD
Bulletin Place is considered one of Sydney’s best bars. Yes, the perfectly muddled cocktails play a role in this, but really, Bulletin Place excels at creating that relaxed but elegant vibe Australians are known for. Paint (intentionally) peels off the walls, Edison bulbs and votive candles are incredibly flattering and romantic, and walls are covered in beautiful old sepia photographs. Multiple-award-winning barmen Tim Philips, Adi Ruiz, and Rob Sloan have narrowed down their list to a mere five cocktails. But no two days are the same, as the cocktails change depending on what herbs and botanicals happen to be at their peak. Of course, if you want a martini, they’ll make you the best martini of your life, but we recommend letting the experts choose for you.
16 Phillip Ln., CBD
Kittyhawk is known for its cocktails, plus a dose of serious old-world elegance. The concept centers around the 1944 liberation of Paris, and while the thought of enjoying a Rum and Rye surrounded by old French liberation posters sounds kitschy—and a tad ridiculous—it’s not. Instead, the low lighting, brick walls, and dark leather banquettes create a cozy ambiance.
The Royal Botanic Garden
Mrs Macquaries Rd., CBD
Anyone traveling with children wants—nay, needs—wide-open green spaces. Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden is just that, with a whopping seventy acres of it, and admission is free. Top gardens include the Australian Rainforest Garden, brimming with the most unusual plants native to the country; the Fernery; and the fragrant Palace Rose Garden, which is just impossibly beautiful. There’s a central pavilion with restaurants and great coffee, plus a section devoted to succulents and other prickly things. The whole complex pulses with animals, birds, and Australia’s rare botanicals. The garden is the perfect destination for an afternoon’s idyll—spend a lazy few hours wandering around, sipping a coffee, and inhaling the scent of a gazillion flowers.
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.
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