10 Best Hotels in Sydney
When it comes to choosing the best hotels in Sydney, these 10 properties have it all: forward-thinking design, award-winning cocktails and cuisine, and, of course, spectacular views—be it of the city, the beach, or the storied Circular Quay. JS Editor Lindsey Olander checks in.
Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour
“Old meets new” is the masterful theme of the Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour, whose former wool warehouse interiors are tricked out with Pop Art murals by local artist Jaspar Knight, mid-century modern furniture in bold colors, and low-hanging filament bulbs. While the more standard of its 90 fashionable rooms are admittedly small, the inclusive amenities—universal adapters (a traveler’s dream); a snack-filled care package; daily continental breakfast and happy hour—more than make up for it. Bonus: the enviable Pyrmont location, minutes from Darling Harbour and Sydney Fish Market, and affordable price tag (virtually unheard of for hotels of this quality).
Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
As far as real estate goes, it doesn’t get much better than Sydney’s sky-high Shangri-La hotel, one of the city’s most unabashedly luxurious stays in the heart of the Rocks district. The 36-floor tower soars over its neighbors and, consequently, delivers sweeping views of the city and harbor. Despite its 500+ rooms (all spacious and decorated in soothing neutrals), the hotel's service is always attentive yet inconspicuous. As you might expect, the dining and entertainment here is of equal caliber: after a rejuvenating treatment at CHI spa, head to top-floor Blu Bar for mixologist-made cocktails before a multi-course dinner at Altitude next door—both feature all-glass walls overlooking Circular Quay and the neighborhood below.
The Old Clare Hotel
It seems like everyone is still abuzz over the Old Clare Hotel, the 62-room designer boutique that made waves when it debuted in artsy Chippendale in 2015. The interiors include period details (parquet floors, wall tiles, original moldings) from the two original landmark buildings the hotel now occupies, but incorporate local style in the form of mid-century chairs and quirky accents like naval search lights and car jacks-turned-desk lamps. The former pub is a pub once again and the rooftop bar and pool draw the expected crowds. The real reason so many locals hang out here, however, is the hotel’s culinary game. Each of its three restaurants—Clayton Wells’ Automata, Jason Atherton's Kensington Street Social, and Sam Miller's Silvereye—is as much a destination as the hotel itself.
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Quirky Australia brand QT Hotels has a taste for the theatrical—just take a look at its first Sydney property, with its gothic-meets-Art-Deco décor, red-wigged concierges dubbed "Directors of Chaos," and animal figurines everywhere. The second Sydney outpost, QT Bondi, is a cool departure from the usual antics and does its beach town suburb well. The 69 studios and apartments are done up in coastal themes (think porthole-esque mirrors and a bright palette of all-white walls and beachy pastels) with spacious balconies that look out onto the water.
The Langham, Sydney
Not a penny was spared during the transformation of the former Observatory hotel into the sumptuous Langham, Sydney, in the historic Rocks district. The three floors house 98 elegant and refined rooms; some feature Juliette balconies while others have wraparound terraces that look out towards the Western Harbor. High tea (on Wedgwood china) and drinks at the Palm Court is de rigeur, though lunching on Euro-Australian cuisine at Kent Street Kitchen is just as enjoyable. JS Tip: Even if you're not there to swim, it's worth taking a peek at the dim-lit indoor pool, whose ceiling echoes the night sky.
Park Hyatt Sydney
Can’t bear to let the Opera House leave your sight? (Don’t worry—we understand.) Book a stay at the Park Hyatt Sydney, whose boxy, low-rise building occupies the northwestern point that sticks out into the harbor, just to the right of Harbour Bridge. Each of its 155 minimalist rooms, serviced by personal butlers, is Zenned out with earthy tones, Eames furniture, Australian art, and giant windows—the best of which feature dead-on views of Sydney’s most famous landmark. The scenes from its heated rooftop pool are just as spectacular, as are those from its two waterfront restaurants. Be sure to leave time for a treatment at the spa, which incorporate ingredients sourced from the Blue Mountains.
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Local interior stylist Sibella Court was tapped to repurpose this historic 1912 former pub, a one-time watering hole for soldiers during World War I. The result is a tasteful take on the rustic-luxe theme: eight uniquely designed rooms feature hand-painted seascape murals and upholstered headboards, while the rooftop cocktail bar Henry Deane keeps the city’s fashion set coming back thanks to Insta-worthy harbor views, bright pink sofas, and craft cocktails from popular mixologist Mikey Enright.
This Surry Hills boutique has everything we look for in a small-time neighborhood sleep: it's housed in a charming 1912 Victorian building, the 20 rooms are spare but sleek (lofty ceilings, subway-tiled bathrooms, plaid throws), the staff (like the hotel’s clientele) are young and hip, and the Latin-themed pub, Harpoon Harry, plays Bossa Nova on repeat. For dinner, you can't go wrong with any of the slow-cooked meats from the in-house Barbacoa smoker, or the tequila-based cocktails.
This refurbished landmark hotel, steps from the business district in the 19th-century former Treasury Building, is everything you'd expect from an InterContinental: modern-classic in feel, with top-notch service and picture-perfect views of the harbor. In the early evening, head to the Cortile Lounge for high tea or creative cocktails, then cap off your night at the opera with dinner at the aptly named Café Opera, where the fresh seafood dishes come from the Sydney Fish Market.
COMING SOON: Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
When it debuts this November, the Sofitel will be Sydney’s largest new hotel in two decades and the Darling Harbour's most luxurious stay. What to expect? 509 rooms and suites decorated with maritime motifs by award-winning architect Richard Francis-Jones, a French restaurant and champagne bar, and a slick rooftop infinity pool and lounge with spellbinding water vistas.
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