NSW Travel Guide
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The landscape of Aussie hotels will be changed for the better this month when the newest brand of hotels opens its doors. If you're planning a trip down under and don't want to smash your piggy bank doing so, then remember this name: Atura Hotels.
The newest option comes to us from a group called Amalgamated Holding Limited, but you might know them better by the work they've been doing with QT Hotels and Rydges Hotels. But instead of resting on their laurels with the cool edginess of QT and the family-resort of Rydges, they've gone a created a new concept that will be appealing to business travelers and those that don't want to miss out on cool hotel design to save a few bucks. (Which is like, everyone everywhere.)
Atura's first property is already checking in guests in Sydney's inner-suburb of Blacktown. Aside from cool design, guests will get free in-room movies, coffee machines and a business center completely outfitted with iMacs. But if you'd rather stay connected on the go, there is free WiFi throughout the hotel and in every guestroom. If you've ever been to Australia, you know this is a big deal since hotels charge a pretty penny for some connectivity.
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Nevertheless, this hotel is a feast for the visual senses since the restored building marries vintage charm with edgy design and comfort. Named after the year that Kodak launched their first box and roll camera which, coincidentally, was the same year the building was built. Freaky!
With little doubt, the hotel's public spaces and rooms are an Instagrammers dream, 1888 is planning to attract even more "snap happy" guests with an Instagram contest.
The giant beach-side hotel will get a funky facelift and a high-design room renovation to reflect the QT style that has put them on the map. Just like QT Sydney, (and its four other QT hotels around Oz), the Bondi property will showcase the designs of Nic Graham of g+a Interiors. Not sure if that new elevator gimmick will be in place.
The building will still cater to overnight guests looking for a resort getaway on the beach but it will also feature QT Residences. The residences will sport about 150 fully-contained, fully furnished apartments for quintessential beach living. From the sounds of it, the decor will be a mix of the Gold Coast (60s beach-chic) and Sydney (trendy and urban loft) properties.
Picture the scene: you're in the elevator going up to your hotel room, Elvis is singing Are You Lonesome Tonight when the door opens and another guest slips in. Eyes straight ahead, you've just settled into ignore the stranger mode when the elevator music switches to Just the Two of Us.
Awkward? Yes. Coincidence? Not if you are staying at the QT Sydney where the elevators are no mere vehicles to transport you between the rooms and the lobby, but 'interactive installations'. Those songs were not played by chance but selected from the hotel's own set-list and triggered by the number of bodies occupying the space.
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If you're a fan of anything and everything Ritz-Carlton, you might remember the hotel brand having a property in Sydney that has since been merely part of fond memories of luxury digs and top-notch service in the upmarket inner-suburb of Double Bay. Now, some deep pockets are giving the old hotel new life by turning it into an InterContinetal Hotel.. This will be the second InterContinental Hotel for the city.
The new owners will fork over a wad of cash to transform the derelict building which was built as Australia's only Ritz in 1991 and eventually became the destination for the likes of Princess Diana, Madonna and Bill Clinton on their visits Down Under. In 1997, the hotel made an infamous list when INXS lead-man, Michael Hutchence, was hung himself in room 524 causing the hotel's reputation to nosedive. In 2001, it was turned into Sir Stamford which then closed in 2009 causing the building to go in ill-repair.
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Good Charlotte's front-man was hanging out down under as a judge on the country's version of The Voice, all the while staying at Sydney's casino-turned-urban-resort. Now that the show has concluded and the winner has been crowned, Joel may have wanted to let off a little steam while relaxing overlooking the Sydney Harbour and sparked up a doobie. Hey, we might have to add that to our list.
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The whole of Australia is a flutter with Brad Pitt touching down this week to promote his new movie, World War Z. Though this is Brad's first visit down under, he opted to leave Angie at home and take little Pax, possibly to pat some koalas or feed some kangaroos.
While in Sydney, father and son are staying in the lap of luxury at the centrally located, Intercontinental. The hotel is located smack dab in the middle of the city's most popular area, Circular Quay, and no doubt while Dad was busy doing his interviews, Pax and his carer hopped on a ferry to the Taronga Zoo for a quick Aussie animal fix.
Yet as busy as Brad can be on his inaugural visit, he did seem to attract some attention with the fans, and we're not talking about the good kind. One fan was hanging out in the basement parking garage waiting to catch a glimpse of Brad and, maybe get an autograph. After the fan approached Brad and Pax, the star's bodyguards quickly stepped in and tackled the man. Eventually, the police came to issue a 'move-on order' (the Aussie equivalent to a slap on the wrist) to the fan and the boys were off to their yacht cruise around the iconic harbor.
Who would have thought that faux fur and babies would actually go together like peanut butter and jelly? Well, the folks Down Under at the swanky QT Sydney have come up with the perfect package for those looking for the trendiest Babymoon.
Appealing to more parents like Brangelina or Posh and Becks, the QT has introduced the perfect package for fashion-forward parents looking to get get away from it all with, of course, the children. The creative offer features daily breakfast for the grown-ups and freshly made baby-food for the little ones and a spa treatment for both mom and dad. If the sexy digs aren't enough to relax, the room comes with a bottle of sparkling wine to calm the nerves of new (or old) parents.
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Designing a suite that's fit for Gomez and Morticia Addams is no easy task, but Sofitel Wentworth Sydney has the made the glamorous into the mysterious and spooky to welcome the namesake Broadway musical hitting the city's theater district.
From the morbid lobby decorations, elevators that delight you with the retro sitcom's theme song to when you step foot into the suite, you might think you have checked-in to a graveyard instead of a luxury hotel in the middle of the city. The themed room features a mock electric chair, creepy crimson walls and curtains, cobwebs, spiders, a haunted mirror, black towels and bed linen and the obligatory Addams Family portrait on the nightstand to remember your favorite relatives - Pugsley, Wednesday, Lurch, Uncle Fester and Grandmama.
If you want to escape all of the drama from your room, you can even partake in a Addams Family high tea service that's all together ooky. Continuing on the after-life theme, you can feast on a confectionery Cousin Itt from fruit paste and Persian cotton candy or a gloriously gruesome edible chopping block out of sweet apple pie.
We've all walked into a hotel room and our excitement for a creative and unique experience is shot down when we find a boring old room. On a recent trip to Sydney we laid our head at Park8 Hotel and even after the swipe of our keycard, the smile was never wiped off our face. We felt like we had our own little loft apartment in the middle of the city, just steps away from Hyde Park and the shopping district.
This little gem of a boutique hotel from 8 Hotels is quirky and fun, but still maintained what we expect when we stay at a hotel. We were fortunate enough to score a one-bedroom loft that was more like we were couch surfing in New York than staying in a hotel chain. The suite has two-stories of windows flooding the rooms with natural light and showcasing brag-worthy views of the inner city and the park's giant figs trees.
With the bedroom on the second floor, the rooms have ample living space allowing for a late night television session on the couch without messing up the bed. A kitchenette stocked with full-size bottles of Aussie wine, a few craft ciders and cold-pressed juices kind of mimicked our own refrigerator at home.
The folks at Hilton Sydney unveiled their latest incarnation--a themed cocktail lounge. The hotel's Zeta Bar has been transformed into 'The Secret Garden' with a modern twist, and of course inventive drinks.
The bar itself is quite known locally as one of the best cocktail lounges and with a group of masterminds and mixologists, the hot bar comes alive with it's latest them that is based on the beloved children's novel. From happy hour on a Friday night to the wee hours of the morning, the lounge gets an overhaul with garden furniture, trees, beautifully manicured lawns and models covered in bodyart to host the city's hip crowd ready to mingle.
You better believe the drinks are part of them if each master bartender is tasked with creating a special cocktail for the concept bar. Alcoholic Jell-O and Bellini popsicles all create a wonderland that is a feast for the senses as much for the eyes. If you're looking to sample as a pair, the Tweedle Dum would suit; the gin-based cocktail is topped with Limoncello and sparkling wine and is served up in a smoking tea-pot.
On Sunday night, all of Sydney was abuzz with Tropfest showcasing independent film-makers. Even after a long night of judging short-films, Avatar star Sam Worthington had enough energy to tie one on at QT Sydney. The swanky new boutique hotel attracted a good number of stars and star-gazers to celebrate the end of the World's Largest Small-Film Festival held over a weekend where over 850,000 spectators converged on The Domain, the city's best outdoor area to catch some film in the park.
The Hollywood hottie was spotted partying in QT's super swank Gilt Lounge while rubbing elbows with a few notable Aussie stars including Wayne Blair, the director of the hit movie, The Sapphires. Many of the up-and-coming actors that attended the bash are following in Sam's footsteps since he also got his start at this festival.
Word is Sam was also guest at the hip QT--good choice since the party was on a school-night!
[Photo: QT Sydney]