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Panda Sinclair Amber Road room at The Collectionist Hotel
Photograph: Supplied/Terence Chin

The best boutique hotels in Sydney

Feel at home at a beachside 'burb or in a luxury heritage-listed property

Maxim Boon
Written by
Time Out editors
&
Maxim Boon
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Boutique hotels offer a delicate balance between creatively luxe interiors and intimate (and often innovative) spaces. In Sydney, you'll find high-quality accommodation built into smaller heritage properties, with fewer rooms, more relaxed service and a greater local focus. You'll feel right at home in a residential suburb, surrounded by local bars and cute cafés but still within striking distance of the city’s most exciting dining and entertainment hubs. We've tried and tested the best boutique venues Sydney has to offer, found in the central business district and as far out as the city’s beach suburbs.

Looking for a fancier guestroom? Check out our pick of the finest luxury hotels in the city.

Boutique hotels in Sydney

  • Hotels
  • Dawes Point

From the disarming intimacy of its lobby to the local-first approach of its top-shelf amenities and the finessed, carefully considered details of its decor, every aspect of Pier One has been crafted to champion the venue’s location and heritage while creating a bespoke experience quite unlike anything else available so close to the city’s greatest tourist draws.

 

  • Hotels
  • Surry Hills

When done right, a heritage hotel can be a transformative mix of modern hospitality and fascinating storytelling, where a building’s past can reach out to the present without overly intruding on your comfort. This careful balance is struck with distinctive flare at one of Sydney’s more inconspicuous boutique accommodations. This 35-room hotel is a design nerds dream, with vibrant styling with a historical eye in the heart of Surry Hills.

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Watsons Bay

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. 

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Camperdown

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.

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  • Hotels
  • Chippendale

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. 

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Surry Hills

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.

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QT Sydney
  • Travel
  • Sydney

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. 

  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Woolloomooloo

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.

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  • Travel
  • Darlinghurst

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.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Haymarket

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. 

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Pyrmont

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. 

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Bondi Beach

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.

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