There's something undeniably romantic about staying in a hotel room in your own city. There's something thrilling (drilled into our subconscious by rom-coms and that dastardly loved-up Hollywood) about buzzing your room card and walking into a freshly turned down room with clean linen, fluffy towels, a stacked mini bar and practically anything you want just a phone call away. It should be mandatory for us all, once in a while, to take a break from the drudgery of life and making your own bed, to become the best version of yourself — the hotel version of yourself.
Sydney has quite the cornucopia of boutique hotels, from industrial, revamped pubs to heritage-listed wharf warehouses, inner city design dens to Victorian-style fireplace-flanked retreats. We've partnered with Grey Goose, one of the most luxurious brands of vodka you can get, to bring you the best luxury experiences in your city. Here are ten of Sydney's best boutique hotels — order room service, grab a bottle of Grey Goose and mix yourself an in-room cocktail.
Every one of QT's 200 guest suites have been carefully crafted to reflect and honour the historic Gowings and State Theatre buildings in which it resides. QT's exterior is a striking blend of Gothic, Art Deco, and Italianate influenced architecture, and inside, the luxurious rooms carry through the distinctly Art Deco flavour. Its location right in the centre of the commercial district and alongside one of the city's most famous theatres makes it a favourite with out-of-towners, while locals can often be found making the best of its various bars, bistros and restaurants like Gowings Bar and Grill or the late night VIP Glit Lounge Bar. Want to stay a little closer to the beach? The QT Bondi should also be included in this list, full of custom artwork from Australian artist Shaun Gladwell and right across from Sydney's postcard-happy famous beach.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Black Cherry Cola — Grey Goose Cherry Noir, Cola and Grenadine.
THE OLD CLARE
After months of anticipation, Chippendale's Old Clare Hotel was unveiled in September 2015. Spearheaded by Singapore-based hotel and restaurant entrepreneur Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Collection, the revamped watering hole as boutique hotel on Kensington Street is genuinely spectacular. Reborn from the (metaphorical) ashes of the historic (and dearly beloved) Clare Hotel and adjoining Carlton United Brewery Administrative Building, the newly-opened hotel boasts 62 rooms and suites featuring high ceilings, heritage timber panelling and exposed brick walls, furnished with PSLAB pendant lighting, vintage furniture and cushions 'inspired by Australian flora and fauna'.
Further hotel amenities include a rooftop pool and bar, private gym and a heritage meeting space, as well as a day spa expected to launch early next year. Guests can also take advantage of custom-made bicycles to explore the surrounding neighbourhood, or simply relax at the indoor bar near reception and enjoy the honest-to-god bespoke scent created by local perfumed candlers Maison Balzac. That being said, the biggest drawcard might be The Old Clare's high-end restaurants: Automata, the first solo venture from Momofuku Seiobo sous chef Clayton Wells, and Kensington Street Social, by Michelin-starred globetrotter Jason Atherton.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Try the Basil Watermelon Cooler — it's made with vodka, basil, ginger, watermelon, lime juice and ginger ale. You'll need to come prepared for this one.
Situated in a gorgeous heritage listed building in Sydney's harbourside suburb of Woolloomooloo, The Ovolo is a concept boutique hotel that positively oozes character and individuality. The amount of free amenities and offerings for guests is unrivalled, including continental breakfast, drinks at snacks in the 'Lo Lounge', in-room mini bar (yes, the mini bar is FREE), happy hour drinks in the evening and ultra fast wifi. The hotel is the perfect blend of historical feel and contemporary features, particularly on the technological front (every room also contains an Apple TV). The stunning rooms are all generous in size, the facilities are open 24 hours a day and flexibility lies at the heart of every feature. Arguably Sydney's best undiscovered boutique gem.
Recommended in-room cocktail: The Citronic — made with Grey Goose vodka, tonic water and lemon.
THE URBAN NEWTOWN
Newtown nabbed a piece of the boutique hotel action in 2014 when The Urban Newtown swung open its doors. Located within walking distance of Enmore Theatre and Young Henrys brewery, this industrial, modern hidden gem is designed to land travellers in the heart of Sydney's culturally plentiful inner west — Darling Harbour this ain't. With double, triple, king and queen studios and suites all fitted out with a free minibar (ya-huh), this plush hotel looks like your typical high-end design magazine deal. You can lavish life's little luxuries like free high speed wi-fi, flatscreen TVs, Australian-made toiletries and fully-stocked pod espresso machines, alongside full in-room kitchens and oh, regular free Australian wine tastings and local craft beer samples. Want to really luxe it up? The top floor apartment has a private terrace with views of the local area and the city. Nice.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Sip on a Cosmopolitan — made with Grey Goose L'Orange, Cointreau, cranberry juice and an orange twist.
Take a trip into the Victorian era among the marble fireplaces, high-ceilinged dining rooms, antique furniture and spectacular staircases of The Hughenden. Built in the 1870s by the son of philosopher Barzillai Quaife, this 36-room mansion started life as a residence and spent some time as a dance hall and ladies' college before falling into disuse. In the early 1990s, the Gervay family came along and transformed it into a boutique hotel. Centennial Park is just across the road for your morning promenading convenience, and the hotel hosts regular art exhibitions and literary events, in case you want to channel that Victorian vibe into something tangible.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Keep it simple — whip up a Gimlet with vodka and lime cordial.
Medusa shares its fashionable spot along Darlinghurst Road with some of Sydney's most cherished historical parks, national trust houses and slick urban developments, ranging from fashion boutiques, homewares, gift and design shops, bookshops, galleries, curiosity shops, spas and salons. With a distinctly inner-city Soho vibe, Medusa's 18 rooms (five Grand, two Premium Deluxe, ten Deluxe and one Private Business Room) all reflect the importance of beautiful surroundings, comfort and privacy, making it an obvious choice for our boutique series. Each room takes on an individual identity at Medusa, including several dog-friendly rooms surrounding the private internal courtyard, one of only two luxury hotels in town to accommodate pets.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Try a Dry Martini — that's vodka, vermouth, orange bitters and lemon.
HARBOUR ROCKS HOTEL
Sydney's Harbour Rocks Hotel is a magnificent yet intimate 59-room boutique hotel steeped in the history of the famous Rocks precinct surrounding it. Combining contemporary accommodation and amenities with the area's iconic heritage, Harbour Rocks Hotel offers up spacious and elegant rooms of varying sizes set amongst some of the best shopping, dining and exploring options in town. Inside, Eric's Bar is renown for its boutique international wine list, while Scarlet, the hotel's restaurant, serves up fine dining steeped in history. For those wishing to treat themselves, the hotel's Harbour View Suite on the top floor comes with sparkling views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Previously known as the Diamant Hotel, the Larmont is tucked away behind Kings Cross's famous Coca Cola sign. The Lancemore Group took over in December 2015 and spent a year giving the 76 rooms a massive revamp, so they're now sparkling like new. After a long day feasting and cocktailing at neighbours Bar Brose, Eau de Vie, Jangling Jacks, The Butler and Mr Wong's, snuggle into your king-sized bed, watch indulgent movies on your the 42-inch plasma TV.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Moscow Mule — an easy combination of vodka, ginger beer and lime.
The ADGE Apartment Hotel on Riley Street is every bit a reflection of the inner-city, fringe suburb in which it's found. Like the artistic, free-thinkers who inhabit or frequent the area, ADGE is a seamless blend of modern sophistication and edgy experimentalism. Every room follows an open-plan design, with enormous lounge and dining areas, fully-equipped kitchens and even internal laundry facilities, to say nothing of its guest services: free wi-fi, in-room hair styling and even a personal grocery shopper await every guest should they request it. On the dining front, ADGE's larger restaurant, Baccomatto Osteria, offers rustic Italian tapas style, freshly made mains and desserts, while the hotel's intimate Japanese restaurant boasts Raita Noda, former head chef at Ocean Rooms, as its host.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Try your hand at creating a Dirty Martini — a classic combination of vodka, vermouth and olives.
So, at five stars, this one's a bit on the ritzy end of the boutique scale, but it's a boutique gem nonetheless. Just ten minutes walk from Circular Quay and Sydney's iconic Rocks district, The Langham is the epitome of boutique indulgence. With only 98 exquisite rooms on offer, demand for even just one night at this Sydney institution is high all year round, and with facilities like its fitness centre, sauna, day spa and spectacular 20-metre indoor pool with a star-dappled sky ceiling, there's almost no reason to explore the amazing areas that surround it. They even have a 'Pampered Pets Program', making it one of only Sydney's only pet-friendly accommodation options at luxury level.
Recommended in-room cocktail: Try The Blushing Dutchess — made with vodka, sugar, orange liqueur and grapefruit.
By Tom Glasson, Jasmine Crittenden, Imogen Baker and Shannon Connellan.