Hotels in Sydney are abundant. There are a million places to stay in all shapes, sizes and certainly classes of accommodation. There are also a lot of different areas of town to stay. Sydney is a massive metropolis with plenty of beaches, suburbs and of course downtown and Sydney Harbour to choose from. I’ve been to Sydney several times and I’ve stayed all over but to be honest my favorite hotels in Sydney are around the Harbour.
Hotels in Sydney Harbour are just full of life, full of energy and full of the best views in the southern hemisphere. They come in the guise of major international luxury brands and make no mistake, they are. However, if you dig a little deeper and move slightly off the harbor, you can find some real cool hotels that are different than what you’d expect. Here are 3 of my favorite hotels in Sydney Harbour and the immediate area.
The Shangri-La hotel brand is one of my favorite International brands. It is most popular in Asia and has recently expanded into Paris in Europe and Toronto and Vancouver in North America. They also have plans for more western expansion coming soon.
The Shangri-La Sydney is one of the best hotels in Sydney period. It is situated on the diagonal harbor corner from the Sydney Opera House for perfect views and if you’re lucky enough to have a front facing room you can have views of the Harbour Bridge as well.
Shangri-La Sydney is convenient to walk just about anywhere around the harbor and certainly in the Rocks neighborhood of Sydney. It is also just down the street from the entrance to the Bridge Climb Sydney; which I loved.
Shangri-La Sydney also features a great bar and restaurant on the top floor. The bar is the perfect place in Sydney for happy hour or sunset drinks. In fact, I held a meet-up with some readers and fans in Sydney at that bar. It was a very fun evening.
There is also a restaurant called Altitude; which is one of Sydney’s finest. I was privy to have a 10-course tasting menu and it was mind blowing good! Also, if it’s not the best view of any restaurant I’ve ever been to, it sure is close. The fiery sunset views of Sydney Harbour, Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are simply breathtaking.
Mix all that with excellent rooms, great breakfast and a friendly staff and you’ve got yourself a world-class hotel from one of the top brands in the world in my book.
The QT is a quirky little hotel about a 15-minute walk up into town from Sydney Harbour and even closer to Darling Harbour. The QT is in the mold of the new brand of hotels that combine the classic look of the neighborhood and/or the old building and blend a chic and trendy hotel, restaurant and bar into that space. This is my favorite kind of new and modern hotel. It is a hotel where you really don’t even have to leave if you don’t want to because they have everything in the small boutique space. It’s just a cool place to be.
The rooms at the QT are phenomenal. They are very unique and mine looked like something out of a burlesque show. That said, the bed was great and the bathroom was excellent.
The lobby of the QT was like a great room where it was really comfortable to hang out and chill. The furniture and décor were interesting and made you look twice at just about everything. There was also a small lounge with an honor bar for beer and drinks. I loved that about the QT.
As with any great modern boutique hotel, there is a great restaurant attached to the hotel called Gowings Bar and Grill. It was fantastic and is literally one of the best places to eat, see and be seen in all of Sydney. The beautiful people were out and they were dressed to kill.
The QT also, surprisingly, had a spa on the ground floor near a breakfast bar. I actually had a proper shave at the spa as it had been forever since I had had one of those and I was to do a live broadcast that night so I had to shave anyway. I recommend it highly.
The Intercontinental Sydney is another classic hotel just off Sydney Harbour. It’s convenient location was excellent for walks to the harbor and also to grab a bus into other parts of Sydney. The small, basic rooms had views of either the harbor, botanical gardens or as mine had, back toward the city.
However, the rooftop executive lounge is where the real views were. Intercontinental Sydney is located on the exact opposite corner from the Shangri-La so the views are equal but opposite. However, the lounge views were tops at the Intercontinental.
My only issue with the executive lounge at the Intercontinental was that I was literally scolded and made to change my outfit twice in the one day I stayed there. I wore flip flops to grab some snacks at about 6pm and apparently there is a rule that you cannot wear flip flops or thongs as the Aussies say, after 5pm. I literally had to go change into sneakers to grab a snack and a drink-it was really irritating.
Then the following morning, I woke up a little late and wanted to grab a quick breakfast in the lounge before checking out. I put on my sneakers but I wore a baseball hat as I hadn’t showered yet and didn’t comb my hair. That’s generally the best thing about hats for guys. Anyway, when I got up there they forced me to take it off because it violated their dress code. They insisted they were an executive lounge and that I was undermining their executive-ness or something.
Anyway, except for the attitude and elitism of the people working in the lounge, I found the staff to be very helpful from the desk clerks to the communications and public relations people. They were very accommodating helping me to set up for a Fox News broadcast from one of their rooftop conference rooms overlooking the harbor.