2000 Travel Guide
Almost two years after Sydney's iconic Observatory Hotel changed owners to become The Langham Sydney, the property will close its door to undergo a massive renovation to make the space a lot more, well, Langham.
The first day of renovations is scheduled for July 24. Over the next four months, all 96 guest rooms, the lobby, dining areas and the residential-style ballroom will see a bit more than a few new coats of paint. Spending around $30 million AUD, the hotel will install a new design element, to bring it more in-line with their other properties around the globe.
Each of the rooms will trade their stuffy, dated interior for a more modern, white-washed decor with herringbone hardwood-floors, modern furnishings and gold and teal accents marrying high-end luxe with colonial charm. Being one of the only hotels in Sydney to offer balconies in each room, guests will be able to enjoy the near perfect Sydney weather from the comfort of their own room.
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Who would have thought that a hotel located in one of Sydney's most stunning spots on The Rocks would need to embark beautification process? Well, the folks over at Pier One Sydney Harbour decided to pretty things up a bit after the ownership of the hotel changed hands.
Earlier this year, Pier One became part of Marriott's Autograph Collection and thus they decided to really wow their
Marriott Rewards members guests.
For the next 17 weeks, the hotel will be overhauling their lobby, dining and bar facilities to better fit in with their new brand. One thing that won't be changing is the 100-year old character of the building and the stunning views across Sydney Harbour. Originally built as a working cargo wharf and passenger transit facility, the hotel now offers a modern and contemporary stay steeped in history with some rooms offering the closest thing you can get to an overwater bungalow in an urban setting.
We’ve come a long way from hotel staff wearing boxy, nondescript uniforms (hell, at some hotels you get to wear Lacroix Couture), but QT Sydney is taking things yet another step further: not only does staff have its stylish uniforms (by costume designer Janet Hine), an in-house stylist is on hand to get the look just so before starting work.
The result is – not surprisingly – some very well put together staff, like the blue-shirted Porters and red-wigged Directors of Chaos at the hotel’s entrance. Their job is getting you out of the hustle of Market Street, into the ornate downstairs gallery (the hotel combines the former Gowings Department Store and State Theatre), and up one floor to reception.
Last year, we were in "Gatsby" heaven, thanks to Baz Luhrmann's stylized movie version of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic novel. Since some scenes were filmed in Sydney, it kind of makes sense for the city to reclaim an art deco building to re-purpose it into a stunning new hotel called the Greenland Hotel.
The building was originally home to the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Headquarters and sports a formidable art deco facade. Through the redevelopment, that design will carry through all spaces in the hotel; restoring the structure's heritage features and ultimately, a new design hotel will emerge into the city center, just steps from Hyde Park and Pitt Street Mall.
The six-story hotel will also be transforming office space from the "Water Board" days into fresh hotel rooms that feature simple, yet elegant interiors referencing the original stone and timber veneer panel of the vintage design. Each of the 180 rooms will be built around a central skylight, bringing back an era of opulence prior to the Great Depression.
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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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.
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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]
We love movie premiers and, even more, we love to be looking smart with a nice smooth face. Like a baby's bottom, but more manly and suitable for an international spy like James Bond. QT Sydney has come to the rescue their Mr. Bond Shave. It's just in time for the US premiere of the movie today.
Yes, we know it's Movember, but bare with us for a moment.
The shave is as retro as it gets in QT's cool barber shop connected to the SpaQ. A complete throwback to when men wore hats, shaved with straight razors. We're talking hot towels, thick shaving cream, blades and aftershave all brought into the 21st Century with a splash of pampering to look your best, even if you're not living a life of espionage.
Men are encouraged to sit back, relax and enjoy the experience because "a razor to the neck reminds you that you're truly alive." After all the stubble is removed, a re-hydrating eye mask is applied while your neck and shoulders get a complete rub-down. We would be surprised if anyone walks out of the barber shop not looking their best and ready to take on Dr. No.
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We've teased you a bit with the views from the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney and now, we can show the freshly renovated rooms. Rest assured this wasn't just a fresh coat of paint and colored throw-pillow job. About 6 months ago, each room got a full rehab with some great new features.
If you're hotel geeks like us, you know Shangri-La offers some of the best service and lush room appointments in the hotel industry. This property has taken things to the next level and made their rooms even more comfy for weary travelers.
Once we walked in the room we first noticed a gentle cherry blossom motif in the rug carries up to the bed's headboard that's decorated with rich gold and auburn tones. This modern-Asian theme carries through--elegant, not kitschy or overwhelming. The rooms are quite spacious and allow for plenty of room to unpack, settle in, and discover other great finds.