Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
This hotel may not quite live up to the standards the brand is famous for (a former Regent, it’s overdue for a revamp), but it does have the advantage of a killer location, facing Circular Quay in the Rocks, and a top-of-the-line spa featuring Elemis treatments. With 531 rooms and suites, it serves as the hotel of choice for large groups of travelers, high-end cruise ships and convention or conference groups, which diminishes the charm for individual travelers. The plush contemporary furnishings will neither wow or offend anyone. Tip: The rooms on the highest floors (thirty-two to thirty-four) have the best views. Rooms from $275.
Park Hyatt Sydney
While the Park Hyatt has long been the undisputed top property in the city, it underwent a total overhaul in 2011 and reopened in the spring of 2012 with sexy new interiors and even more glass windows to take advantage of its spectacular harbor side perch. As soon as you enter the lobby, you are greeted with water views and a stunning angle on the famous Sydney Opera House. In true Australian fashion, there is a laid-back languor to the ambiance so rather than a real lobby there is a waterside living room where guests can gather or order light snacks. The long, low four-story building curves along the waterfront and there is also The Dining Room restaurant on the main floor that faces out to the boardwalk that runs along the harbor, giving diners the feeling of being in the midst of one of Sydney’s main leisure spots. The 155 guest rooms have a sleek urban aesthetic with floor-to-ceiling windows and residential touches like books and Australian art work as well as all of the latest state-of-the art apartment wizardry, such as push-buttons for the blinds and sliding doors so the bathtubs can be open to the view or shut in for privacy. Of course, the best rooms have views of the harbor and/or the Opera House. The rooftop has a small but attractive pool and its bar is a popular spot for a cocktail. As this is the city’s hands-down luxury property, it is where all of the celebrities and dignitaries stay when they are in town so famous faces are frequently spotted here.
Rooms to get: Be sure to request a harbor facing room. The rooms that look onto the park miss all of the drama. The top suites are those on the rooftop, one of which, the Sydney Suite, includes an outdoor dining space for eight and sun loungers.
Note: Ask whether there will be fireworks behind the Opera House during your stay. Many weekend nights and special occasions fireworks explode over the harbor and there are lots of good spots in the hotel from which to watch them. Unfortunately, the views can be marred in the months of January and February when cruise ships park at the adjacent Overseas Terminal and some are as large as tall office buildings turned on their sides.
The Observatory Hotel
With livery-clad doormen, plush lounges and a hushed atmosphere, the Observatory harks back to a more refined era. Located in a residential area of the Rocks, the 100-room hotel is popular with the stealth wealth set, who love the old-world setting (rooms come with damask or floral sofas, heavy curtains, antique-style furniture and early-20th-century nature etchings on the walls). Many of the junior suites have balconies with harbour views, and there’s an excellent spa and pool, with a ceiling twinkling with fiber-optic stars. The service is white-glove as befits the atmosphere, and afternoon tea here is a beloved ritual. Rooms from $280, including breakfast.
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