Smart home technology is becoming increasingly commonplace, but not every new-fangled mod-con is a keeper. Hotels are often early adopters of such hardware, but many have been saddled with over-engineered mood lighting or baffling in-room amenities when too quick to jump on the new tech bandwagon.
The latest addition to Skye Suites’ Sydney properties, however, has found just the right balance of cutting-edge innovation and timeless luxury. This five-star apart-hotel on Kent Street was recently crowned Best Technology Hotel at the HM Awards, but far from being crammed with gimmicky gadgets, a combination of savvy restraint and intelligent, experiential design has delivered plenty of bells and whistles without overwhelming the overall experience.
Making guests feel at home while never shying away from an opportunity to wow is the subtle formula behind this successful fusion of tech and hospitality. This begins as soon as you set foot inside. The brick-clad, semi-gothic grandeur of architect Koichi Takada’s dramatic facade gives way to the graceful flow of Victoria Isles’ sculptural interiors. A compact reception space is shaped by otherworldly, fluidic forms inspired by ice caves, with an unusual feature: a glass wall revealing Skye Suites’ indoor lap pool and spa (there’s also a small fitness room available to guests).
Frozen caverns may have informed the foyer's aesthetic, but the rooms are cosy and inviting, decked out in a warmer pallet of burnished metals, rich ochers and earthy textures. With the longer stays of serviced apartment clientele in mind, there’s a small but well-appointed kitchenette, complete with pod-based espresso machine, a dining area and comfortable lounge. The full-height windows that offer access to a small balcony looking out onto busy Kent Street are triple-glazed, so even in the heart of the CBD, external noise is barely noticeable.
The cooking facilities are functional yet relatively no-frills, but the in-room entertainment system is a state-of-the-art showstopper. A huge smart TV built into the wall offers access to a number of streaming services, including Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime, plus a library of current blockbusters, movie classics and regular TV channels. It can also sync with your device via the complimentary high-speed wifi, so you can stream your own content and music.
As much as it can be, the guest experience is paperless. Check-in is done via a tablet at reception, with a simple, intuitive interface that’s effortless to use. You can even open your room with a virtual key from your own smartphone, but should you prefer, traditional contactless keys are also available. Once inside, all guest information is at your fingertips through a bedside touchscreen that also offers access to concierge services, including housekeeping, valet parking and taxi rental.
The Skye Suites Sydney has a location that’s hard to beat, close to the tourist hotspots of Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Martin Place and Barangaroo, as well as the new light rail extension. While there isn’t any in-house catering or restaurant (one of the few noticeable drawbacks of this hotel), the newly refurbished Skittle Lane development is also on your doorstep, offering easy access to a number of great dining options.
Time Out tip: Take the time to make the most of the pool facilities. The lighting can be changed in both colour and intensity to conjure several different ambiances, and so long as your fellow patrons don't mind, you can also stream your own music to the swimming pool's integrated sound system, so you can get in some laps while listening to your fave tracks.