Boutique hotels offer a delicate balance between luxury interiors and intimate (and often innovative) spaces. Usually it means finding high quality accommodation built into smaller heritage properties, fewer rooms and more relaxed service. It can also mean feeling at home in a residential suburb surrounded by local bars and cycle routes, or being located next to the city’s most exciting restaurants, or being able to bring your pets along for the trip. These are the best boutique hotels Sydney has to offer, found in the central business district and as far out to the city’s beach suburbs.
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Boutique hotels in Sydney
In Sydney, waking up to the sound of waves crashing at the beach is a luxury reserved for the rich, but at the harbourside hotel in Watsons Bay anyone willing to splash out on one of the waterfront rooms can enjoy a slice of that eastern suburbs life. Opt for the Grand Harbour Suite, which has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the fairy-lit bar and the pine tree-lined Robertson Park.
Where once was a temple to sticky carpeted uni shenanigans, now stands a vintage-styled cocktail bar beneath a slick boutique hotel, complete with rooftop pool. Standard rooms are generously sized, with king beds, mid-century modern furniture and city views, meanwhile Abercrombie Rooms offer much the same experience, with the added kick of a freestanding in-room bath.
Light-filled spaces, industrial architecture and smart design details are the hallmark stamps of Ping Jin Ng, Russell Beard and Mark Dundon, the team behind Reuben Hills, Paramount Coffee Project and now the neighbourhood hotel on Commonwealth Street. From the website through to the minimalist lobby, every detail in the Paramount House Hotel has been carefully considered, meticulously placed and kept affectionately local.
QT Sydney is larger than most boutique hotels with 200 individualised rooms, a day spa (spaQ), men’s barber, two bars, a café and restaurant. They’ve themed the place around the full-service men’s department stores of the ’50s and ’60s, from vintage American barber shop chairs to the Hammam-inspired steam room.
Close to the action of King Street, Newtown, the Collectionist is an art gallery of hotel rooms – sitting more in the pop art world than old masters – with the added quirk of essentially renting your artwork by the night. After booking and choosing one of four price points (Bootstrap, Moonshiner, Tinkerer and Artisan), you gain entry to the hotel via a key code that opens the front door. The check-in process involves discovering which rooms in your price range are available (that is, their doors are still open), and choosing the one you like the best.
The Medusa is one of Sydney's original boutique hotels and to this day remains one of the city's best, thanks primarily to love and attention proprietor Terry Schwamberg has given this huge Victorian terrace. You'll find early-2000 designed rooms that have retained their style, while the hotel is also pet friendly remarkably, one of the only boutique hotels that still is nowadays.
The Ultimo has a disarmingly cool aesthetic; you’ll be greeted by slick marble surfaces, parquet floors, and framed star sign graphics behind the reception desk. The heritage building has been primped with sweet pastel touches that complement the industrial bare brick, scattered with minimal Scandinavian-style furniture and original Jodi Clark prints – it’s cooler than your average hotel interior without losing any hospitable warmth.
If you’ve always fancied owning a place by the beach, the Adina Apartment Hotel comes pretty close to living that dream. Borrow one of the hotel’s Lekker bikes, free of charge, and explore North Bondi’s eateries or sign up for a class at Let’s Go Surfing and park your bike at the shop. Do drag yourself away from the Foxtel, air-con and free wireless broadband if you can.
Over the course of a two year revival, the Terminus Hotel has swapped dust and dereliction for boutique room service. The owners haven’t forgotten its historic place in Pyrmont, and the hotel’s interiors maintaining some original architectural features and a traditional feel. Nine double rooms are on offer, two boasting private ensuites and the remaining seven sharing bathroom facilities.
Nostalgia reigns in the 12 redesigned rooms at Hotel Ravesis on Bondi Beach. The individually styled suits feature local products in the bathroom and at the mini bar, and unusual in-room purchases such as silk eye masks in tropical prints or hand-drawn playing cards. The venue prides itself on beach views, local knowledge and a retro-Caribbean atmosphere.