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It's time to start planning that interstate trip or weekend staycation. We’ve rounded up our favourite places to sleep, relax and use as a home base while in Sydney so you can go on holiday without having to stray too far.
The urban food-lover getaway
Paramount House Hotel opened three years ago after a clever build that saw the former Paramount Picture Studio’s office and an adjoining film-storage warehouse combined. And you can even tell from the outside that this boutique hotel is going to be a stunner – its copper-clad roof shimmers in the sun.
The hotel is in a great pocket of Surry Hills on Commonwealth Street on the fringe of the CBD, home to top restaurants, bars and cafes. But you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your swish room to feast on amazing food. The Sydney outpost of iconic Melbourne restaurant Chin Chin is just a stone’s throw away, and they’ve got an exclusive menu for Paramount patrons you can get brought up as room service.
It’s made all the better for eating surrounded by designer wares. The hotel commissioned local artist Sonny Day, among others, to create works (check out the elevator – you’re enveloped by his pink hibiscuses and diving man), and has decked out the beds with lush sheets by Aussie maker I Love Linen. If you can splurge, get a room with a timber Japanese bathtub and balcony.
Guests can also make the most of the building’s other tenants, including the art-house Golden Age Cinema and Bar, the stellar Paramount Coffee Project cafe and the slick upstairs Paramount Recreation Club gym.
The safari-like experience
There’s nothing quite like the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows in your room at the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo; you might spot a koala, a red kangaroo, or a joey from behind the curtains. The harbourfront eco-retreat is owned and operated by the not-for-profit Taronga Conservation Society, and is as luxe as it is environmentally sensitive and sustainable. Choose from any of the 62 rooms in its five lodges, all connected to reception by walkways suspended over the sanctuary.
Some rooms have views of the harbour, some bring guests eye-to-eye with the animals, and others are set in the treetops, looking out over the wildlife haven. Floor-to-ceiling windows run the length of the rooms, and some contain a timber four-post bed with curtains. Stay in a Treetop Suite to enjoy a bonus freestanding bathtub and comfortable sitting area. But as well-appointed as the rooms are, it’s the animals that are the star of the show here.
There are guided tours throughout the day (including one at dawn) that take guests around the sanctuary to see the animals and learn more about their lives in the wild. Each stay also comes with a free visit to the zoo, which is home to more than 4000 animals from 350 different species.
Best for design aficionados
In the upper levels of this Potts Point heritage-listed building that houses bistro Lotus 2.0 and designer boutique Arida, you’ll find three self-contained, short-stay apartments, III Rooms Sydney.
Three of Australia’s most stylish furniture houses – luxe and beachy MCM House; environmentally conscience and elegant Jardan; and purveyor of local and international crafts Cult Design – were each commissioned to curate an apartment that speaks to their aesthetic, ethos and values.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom Jardan apartment has more of an art deco aesthetic, while Cult’s three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment is punctuated by artwork and pieces in bold, dark colours. There are different features across the three, but all are elegant and will make you wish your own place was this stylish.
As a bonus, these apartments are located in a great inner-city suburb bustling with plenty to do. You don’t even need to stray far – you have four outstanding restaurants right nearby: vegetarian bistro Yellow, Japanese izakaya Cho Cho San, Italian institution Fratelli Paradiso and chic wine bar Monopole.
For those who want a classic Sydney hotel
Throughout Jonah’s 90-plus years of welcoming guests, its views have remained as dazzling as ever. It’s perched on top of a hill in Whale Beach 40 kilometres from the CBD, and offers vistas up and down the northern beaches coastline. If you can tear yourself away from the view, its 11 rooms have polished, Hamptons-style fit-outs that reflect the cool, beachy vibe of the smart locale, with beautiful parquetry flooring, bronze lamps, textured wallpaper, linen lounges and Smithmade timber tables. For many visitors though, its restaurant has been the draw. At the moment it’s manned by executive chef Peter Ridland.
For a harbour jaunt
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel had a facelift two year's ago as part of a multi-stage redevelopment, with 31 refurbished rooms unveiled. Seasoned globetrotter and respected interior designer Sibella Court put her spin on the accommodation, adding pattern rugs, textured cushions, weathered timber, crisp white linens and scientific drawings of blue swimmer crabs to its seaside aesthetic. Furnishings have been sourced locally and abroad, and there are custom artworks from Australian artists Peter Bainbridge and Neil Mallard.
Watsons Bay is a delightful suburb to explore, with stacks of great walks, secluded harbour beaches and dramatic cliffs. This is also a good option if you want to have a long afternoon session; its on-site al fresco pub has lots of sun-splashed spots to while away hours. Arrive via ferry for a more nautical bent to your trip.
For those who like a personal touch
Crystalbrook Albion doesn’t feel like a hotel, thanks in large part to its warm and personalised service – expect friendly chats and to be greeted by your name throughout your stay.
Each of the 35 rooms at this Surry Hills guesthouse has different features and amenities – some have pink velvet armchairs and freestanding bathtubs, while others have cosy reading nooks and rainfall showerheads. They’re all linked by a common aesthetic of dark-coloured timber, marble surfaces, textural furnishings and brass fittings.
In the evening the Honour Bar is where you can get a drink; in the morning it’s where you get breakfast. The name explains how it works: you grab what you want, write it down on a piece of paper and it gets charged to your credit card. Or order in from Uber Eats, which the hotel uses in place of traditional room service. Your food will be transferred from the takeaway containers to a wooden tray with cutlery and napkins before it’s delivered to your room.
Best for a beach stay
For a city stacked with beaches, there’s a surprising lack of beach-side hotels in Sydney. And while QT Bondi doesn’t give you views of the waves and golden sand of Australia’s most famous beach, its Campbell Parade position puts it in the thick of the suburb’s bustling cafes, restaurants and shops.
With fresh white walls, blond timber flooring and candy-inspired pastels, the rooms are a nod to coastal living. QT’s signature quirky touches are a little more subtle here than at its CBD hotel (another great staycation option) but additions such as coconut water and kombucha in the minibar and a beard-trimming kit keep it fun.
For those who want to be in the thick of it
The Old Clare Hotel is one of Sydney’s original boutique hotels and, after adding a stylish new wing two year's ago, remains an enticing option. The hotel opened in 2015 and was at the centre of the $2 billion urban renewal project of Sydney’s southern CBD, which saw Chippendale’s Carlton & United Breweries transformed into Central Park and its apartments, shops and dining precinct. The hotel celebrates the history and heritage of its former gritty life.
The new wing comprises seven stunning, light-filled art deco rooms with windows that look out over Kensington Street and Broadway. Of course its original 62 rooms are equally pretty, each with a mix of mid-century and vintage furnishings. You should have a drink at the rooftop pool’s adjoining bar or its ground-level pub, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant or in Chinatown.
For a Palm Beach adventure
Century-old guesthouse Barrenjoey House exudes Palm Beach charm. It’s located opposite the wharf, so ideally placed for exploring spectacular Pittwater and its glorious rocky nooks, or for a walk to the nearby lighthouse and beach. The chic northern beaches suburb is 40 kilometres from the city and it really does feel like you’re far from the bustling big smoke.
The guest house has seven rooms and a restaurant, which were given a recent facelift to align with the nautical theme of The Boathouse Group’s other venues (including The Boathouse Hotel Patonga, which is just across Pitt Water) – think white-painted timber, wicker furniture and splashes of blue.
The bistro’s menu is the sort you’d expect from a seaside diner, with a whole lot of seafood that’s been given a more sophisticated bent than your local fish’n’chip shop. There’s also a dedicated flatbread list, with classic flavour combinations and more complex affairs.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW. For more information go to Sydney.com. Stay up to date with the latest NSW Government health advice regarding COVID-19.