There's an antidote to winter and it's pubs with roaring fires, cosy whisky bars, experimental art galleries and winter dishes whipped up by brilliant chefs. You'll find all these in high concentration in the creative, inner-city Sydney neighbourhoods of Surry Hills, Redfern and Chippendale, just beyond the CBD.
With a short break revolving around their famous galleries, bars and restaurants — and a night or two in one of the nearby AccorHotels properties — you'll be welcoming the cold weather rather than wishing it away. Here's your guide to a winter weekender in urban Surry Hills, Redfern and Chippendale.
EAT AND DRINK
Getting out of bed on a frosty morning is much, much easier when you know that good coffee awaits. You'll get just that – and, on a cloud-free day, a generous dose of sunlight – among the high ceilings of Surry Hills' Paramount Coffee Project. Another cheery spot is nearby Suzie Q, where the morning menu includes Wintertime Love: a brekkie bowl loaded with quinoa, almond hummus, fermented pumpkin, pickled cauliflower, kale, avocado, poached egg and toasted nuts. Alternatively, to warm up with freshly baked goods, swing by Chippendale's Brickfields Bakery or Redfern's extremely popular Donut Papi. Yes, a doughnut for breakfast is the definitive answer to the wintertime blues.
Among the area's most tempting lunchtime offerings is fried chicken ramen, which you'll find at Butter, a hybrid eatery-retail space with an impressive rare sneaker collection. The dish was such a hit in 2017 that head chef Julian Cincotta brought it back for another round. Burger fiends, The O.G from Eve's Bar is one to tick off your burger bucket list: a classic beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard mayo combo topped with a mini cheese burger on top (because one is never enough). Another option is a Japanese-inspired burger at Ume — think crumbed chicken katsu with yuzu kosho mayo and tonkatsu sauce. That's pretty much enough fuel to get you through to spring.
If you're ready to indulge at dinnertime, then head to the newish Kensington Street Precinct. The quintessential dining experience here is Automata, a 2015 opening that was named one of the Diners Club World's 50 Best Restaurants and whose head chef, Clayton Wells, has been showered with awards. This is a degustation-only deal where contemporary Australian flavours like romanesco, broccolini, sour cucumber, dory roe emulsion combine in one dish. The cluster of more casual restaurants and stalls around Spice Alley are Jason Atherton's Kensington Street Social also vie for your attention here.
All wintry evenings should end with a beverage in front of a crackling open fire. In Surry Hills alone, there are three pubs with just that: The Dolphin, the Cricketers Arms and Harpoon Harry. Alternatively, for a cocktail, go to Mjolner, a labyrinthine bar filled with cavernous rooms inspired by Thor, or, for a whisky, the Wild Rover.
With the lure of beach-going reduced, winter is a great time to catch up on art. And Surry Hills, Redfern and Chippendale are perfect places for it, being absolutely packed with galleries. Get started at Brett Whiteley Studio, where the famous avant-garde artist lived and worked, before heading to White Rabbit, to peruse one of the biggest collections of 21st-century Chinese art in the world. Afterwards, take a wander around Chippendale's back streets, to stumble across stacks of independent and experimental galleries. Look out for Galerie Pompom for shows by emerging artists, Tiny Tailor for designer creations and Goodspace, where, with the support of local pub the Lord Gladstone, artists exhibit commission-free.
Come evening, swap art for live performance. There's jazz, blues and funk at Venue 505, rock bands at the Lansdowne Hotel, DJs and various live acts at Freda's and all kinds of sexy – and not-so-sexy – stuff at the Bearded Tit. Meanwhile, for theatre, comedy and talks, check out the Old 505, Giant Dwarf and the Seymour Centre. You'll be so busy, you won't have time to think about the cold.
To keep up with so many adventures, a super-sound sleep is crucial. The good news is there are a few nearby hotels where you can count on being cosy and warm. To go 4.5-star, book at the Novotel Sydney Central. The sunny, colour-splashed rooms feel happy — on even the chilliest of days. All come with lovely king-sized beds (or two queens, if you so choose) and the Superior rooms with private balconies. Wherever you sleep, you'll be welcome to swim in the heated rooftop pool and hang out in the garden terrace. Also be sure to make a stop at the Field House Bar during happy hour from 5–7pm and enjoy $5 house drinks and two-for-one cocktails, accompanied by live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.
An alternative is the 4-star Mercure Sydney, right near Central Station and a short walk from the sizzle of Spice Alley and Kensington Street. Keen to splurge? Reserve a city-view room, with panoramas of the Sydney CBD skyline. There's also a rooftop gym, sauna and indoor heated pool (winter dip, anyone?). For a fortifying meal before you hit the road home, stop by the in-house diner Eve's Bar for an OG Burger — not only does it have the works, it comes skewered with a mini cheeseburger.
If you're looking for bang for your buck, then the Ibis Sydney World Square is for you. Located within a stone's throw of Surry Hills, Chippendale, Redfern and the CBD, it's spacious, clean and close to the wildly praised new bars and restaurants you came this way to see.