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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