For many visitors, Circular Quay and Darling Harbour take top honours in the prime hotel real estate stakes. It’s hard to blame them, of course, but it’s important to consider the downsides (and there are a few): big crowds, tourist attractions at almost every turn and an overload of unreasonably priced eating and drinking possibilities, many of which are mediocre at best.
The Ovolo Woolloomooloo occupies the front half of the heritage-listed Finger Wharf, which means you’ve got waterside wow-factor, knockout vistas and some of Sydney’s best dining at your fingertips. That’s a pretty tempting proposition in and of itself. Plus, you get to stay in the world’s largest wooden building, according to Guinness World Records, which is a big tick for history buffs and fans of heritage-listed architecture.
The sheer scale of the hangar-like structure might overwhelm at first, but the greeting you receive from the reception team when you walk through the door is warm, spirited and genuine. The ’80s rock soundtrack and playful colour palette of pastel pinks, purples and pale greens are equal parts cutesy and clever ways to inject a bit of fun and whimsy to the imposing industrial atmosphere.
If you’ve come here to get away from it all, Netflix and chill – you’re in good hands. It’s worth splurging on a room on the western side of the building because the skyline views are so mesmerising, there’s every chance you won’t even turn on the TV. Our Cityvoo Loft on level five is a nifty split-level room that uses the top floor’s sharply angled roof to its advantage; the high ceiling makes the narrow space feel, well, quite lofty. Downstairs, the L-shaped set of lounges and dining area are the perfect stage for a lazy afternoon or a night in. And with amenities like Apple TV, more than a handful of USB sockets, Bluetooth connectivity and Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa at your beck and call with Spotify at the ready, that’s a very real possibility.
Level two is the centre of the action for more social butterflies, a condensed collection of comfy lounges and communal hang-out areas that boasts an all-day bakery, pool table and Alibi, the hotel’s acclaimed (and entirely plant-based) eatery and cocktail bar. Booking directly through Ovolo scores you an invitation to a nightly social hour, with drinks and snacks on the house, as well as a better-than-average complimentary buffet breakfast (bonus points for Pepe Saya butter, a couple of hot dishes and two flavours of fruit-infused spring water).
Let’s face it, we’re all suckers for amenities, and this hotel gets them right. Minibar snacks, beer and wine come free of charge, there’s a yoga mat in the closet and even a stool for your feet by the toilet to maximise your posture while you poo. Now that’s what we call VIP treatment.
Top tip: There’s an indoor pool on the premises, but don’t waste the warm weather months swimming inside. The 50-metre, eight-lane Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool is only a short stroll away and one of Sydney’s most scenic spots for a sunbathe and saltwater dip. Should you prefer to stay dry, keep following the footpath to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, and soak in the stupendous Harbour views instead.