Cheap hotels in Sydney
There’s a new old kid on the block – the 1980s vintage hotel formerly known as the Y has been renamed and madeover. They’ve added 43 new rooms and dedicated one new wing and nine rooms in honour of Australian celebrities: Sia, Lee-Lin Chin, Nakkiah Lui, Missy Higgins, Tina Arena, Bindi Irwin, Sally Rugg and Deborah Mailman – current female trailblazers in music, journalism, nature conservation, activism and acting.
Time Out tip: You’re spoilt for choice for restaurants, bars and entertainment nearby. The innovative dining cultures of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst are a stone’s throw away, while the CBD’s Thainatown and Koreatown are just two blocks west. Burn off any over-indulgences at Cook + Phillip Park Pool, one block north.
Staying at the heritage-listed Sydney Park Hotel is like staying at your cool Nan’s house – she’s all the retro style, with a familiarly warm welcome. The pub hotel’s recent renno complements the building’s character. Sleek leather armchairs and a compact storage unit are made more comforting with plush pillows, recycled Merino-wool blankets and neon artwork. The Superior King room boasts a decorative fireplace and wall-mounted telly with every streaming service known to man. The familiar retro fit out extends to the shared bathrooms. Don’t worry, it’s not hostel standard. Think Nan’s powder room – all pastel pink and green kitsch finishings. It’s very clean, but you might need to wait in line – there are only a few toilets and showers between eight rooms. The shared kitchen does a complete turnaround in style, with smooth monochrome surfaces and stainless steel appliances giving budget-conscious travellers the option to dine in.
Time Out tip: If you are heading out, the hotel puts you in prime position to explore the late-night haunts of Newtown. Or you could grab a classic counter meal from the pub, such as a hearty brisket cottage pie or a fried chicken burger.
Newtown and Enmore are incredibly popular neighbourhoods with Sydneysiders. They’re crammed to the gills with good dining options for any budget. There are great bars and pubs on every block, and because the area is outside Sydney’s lockout zone, the party can go on all night. In the daytime there are vintage clothing boutiques, crystal shops and record stores to wander through, and cafés to recharge in – and it’s not uncommon to see stickers around town imploring visitors and residents to “Keep Newtown weird”. To date, it hasn’t drawn a particularly touristy crowd. The low-key Urban Newtown, which sits on Enmore Road right near the fork of the neighbourhood’s other main drag King Street, isn’t looking to change that. Opened in late 2014, the hotel brings the Inner West-vibes inside with corkboard and bare concrete finishes and graffiti-inspired art on the walls. Even the mini-bar is stocked with beer from local craft brewery Young Henrys. The 79 rooms aren’t spacious, but they are clean and bright, with suite, kitchenette and balcony rooms available. All come with complimentary Wi-Fi. The Urban doesn’t have much in the way of internal common areas – but in a neighbourhood like Newtown, you don’t need (or even want) them.
Time Out tip: The Urban is by far the most convenient hotel to the Enmore Theatre – one of Sydney’s most-loved live music and comedy venues. There’s a big-name show on every other night, so see who’s playing while you’re in town.
Sitting at the foothill of oh-so-posh (and quite gay) Potts Point, overlooking the king-sized fig trees and bobbing yachts of Rushcutters Bay Park, the Vibe Hotel feels a little bit swankier than you’d expect from its prices. This is thanks to a late-2016 reno that saw rooms redone with dove grey carpets and jewel-toned soft furnishings, the expansive bar area and reception decked out in shades of grey, warmed up by potted plants and golden finishes. Now you’ll find locals and their fancy dogs chilling out at the paw-friendly terrace bar après-park walkies, and a mix of business travellers and tourist couples bustling in and out. The park really is a major asset here, ensuring many of the hotel’s 243 rooms and 15 suites have a leafy outlook, though you should call ahead and ask if you’re keen on a room with a view. At 22m2 the standard sized rooms are small but smartly furnished, with comfortable beds. All rooms come with free Wi-Fi, and you can get simple dishes from the hotel’s Storehouse restaurant delivered up to your room 24 hours a day. That being said, if you stay at the Vibe, you’ll be a five minute walk up the hill from some of the best drinking and dining in Sydney – so only go for that cheese and ham toastie if it’s 2am and you’re too tired to leave the hotel. The big finish here is the rooftop pool, which directly overlooks the park and harbour. At the moment, the pool is open only to guests. If you ask nicely (and request plastic cups), they’re happy to let you drink a glass of chilled white wine up there.
Time Out tip: The hotel creates pre-packed picnic hampers, so if you feel like spending the day luxuriating on the lawn by the harbour, ask them to hook you up.
If you’re looking for a party pad with design chops and the soul of a grown-up hostel, Hotel Harry will hit the spot. All rooms have antique-inspired fixtures, in fitting with the hotel’s heritage listing (it was built in 1912), and the decor is crisp and simple. Because this is a heritage building, they can’t mess with the facade, which means there’s not a lot of uniformity between rooms. Located above very popular Surry Hills bar Harpoon Harry, the hotel, opened in 2015, has 20 rooms, and infinite opportunities to mingle with the locals. The bar downstairs is packed on weekends – on Friday nights after work drinkers from nearby creative offices kick on well into the evening, while on Saturdays and Sundays international DJs can often be found behind the decks, bringing the party vibes until late. Just because it’s a party bar doesn’t mean you can’t eat there – the menu is dude-food heavy (pork crackling nachos, anyone?) but well executed. The Harpoon Harry kitchen takes care of the room service, so if you’d rather not socialise, you can just eat in.
Time Out tip: You get what you pay for here – there are fairly spacious suite options, and much more affordable, smaller spaces – including single bed rooms. Light sleepers should avoid lower-level rooms overlooking the central courtyard which can be very loud on weekends.
If aesthetics are more important to you than convenience, then Cremorne Point Manor may well be your cup of tea. Set a 19th century harbourside building on the leafy north shore of Sydney, surrounded by millionaires’ mansions, the Manor is one of the city’s oldest hotels. Old does not, however, mean dated. Rooms have been renovated as recently as 2017. Design is modern, in a light, bright palette that complements the hotel’s sunny aspect. Surrounded by waterside walking tracks and not much else, the Cremorne Point Manor will allow you to experience one of the most unusual virtues of being a Sydney local and get about by ferry. The hotel is an eight minute walk to Cremorne Point Wharf, and from there you can catch a ferry to the city in just ten minutes – meanwhile, Taronga Zoo is just one ferry stop away in the other direction. Many rooms have harbour views and generous ensuite bathrooms – but the real value is in the smaller rooms, which are regularly available for under $100 a night. Sure, you’ll have to share a bathroom – but it’s a small price for living in a multi-million dollar neighbourhood.
Time Out tip: The ferry is close to this hotel, but the nearest shopping strip is a 20 minute walk uphill. If you’re drawn more to Sydney’s natural beauty than its activities, then this spot shows the city in one of its finest aspects – but you’ll need to factor in extra time for getting around.
The slogan for the Travelodge hotel chain is “refreshingly simple”, and never before has a brand’s tagline been so honest. You will not find frills in a Travelodge – no fresh flowers in your room, no day spas – but you will not find any nasty surprises either. Instead, what you get are hotel rooms that are clean, neat and totally functional. There’s enough closet space to make it to your pitch meeting entirely uncrumpled, good water pressure in your bathroom, tea and coffee making facilities and a little TV screen for channel-surfing and chilling. The Wynyard location, which was renovated in 2017, places almost every corner of Sydney within accessible reach via public transport, and Barangaroo, the Rocks, and the Sydney Opera House are within walking distance, so hitting up some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions is a breeze. There are comforting touches like boardgames in-room, but the biggest comfort is the dependability. This reliability makes the chain popular with frequent business travellers, younger couples and budget-conscious families, who are catered to with kids’ packs.
Time Out tip: Walk five minutes west down Margaret Street to the Streets of Barangaroo (yes, the suburb is actually named ‘the Streets of Barangaroo’) to get access to the city’s buzziest eateries, from Belles Hot Chicken (fried chicken and organic wine) to Cirrus (upscale, sophisticated seafood).
Over the course of a two year revival, the Terminus Hotel has swapped dust and dereliction for boutique room service. But co-owners and restoration partners of the Terminus, David Mathlin and Binu Katari, haven’t forgotten its historic place in Pyrmont, with 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. Sharing a bathroom means saving on cost, and as Airbnb hosts the booking function for the hotel there's no reception area or communal areas – bar the pub downstairs that is. As you'll be sleeping above a potentially noisy pub, be ready to join the party to save on the price of a more centrally located bed for the night.
Best hostels is Sydney
If you’re a single traveller who is more private than claustrophobic, and are looking for accommodation at dorm-room prices, then the Capsule Hotel is your silver bullet. All sleeping pods have Netflix-enabled TV screens, and there’s free, fast Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. The Capsule Hotel is located bang in the centre of town and a short walk downhill from Darling Harbour.
Travelling up and down the wide, brown land can be a lonely and exhausting experience. It's times like those when you need a no-frills hostel experience, with clean rooms and plenty of people in the same boat to share experiences and get really drunk with. Big Hostel is centrally located, reasonably priced and has all the facilities you require to transform all you travel blues into hazy and hungover memories.
The Cambridge Lodge provides everything you need to have a grown-up hostel experience. The unique location provides access to the super-cool trend centres Newtown and Enmore, while also being close to some of the city's best outlying dining districts like the Petersham and Leichhardt. The hostel itself is housed in a big old building that has the feel of a country manor. Having all this only a speedy train ride away from Sydney’s CBD means that the Cambridge Lodge is perfect for those who want to see Sydney in a new and different light.
Established in 1980, this sprawling hostel in a Victorian mansion may look a little on the lived-in side, but it has plenty of character – not to mention lots of extras such as a lovely spacious courtyard, free bed linen and towels, 24-hour check-in and $10 airport pick-up (very welcome after spending a day on an aeroplane). There are single, double and family rooms as well as ten-person dorms, which are mixed or female only. Most bathroom facilities are shared but all well maintained. There’s usually something going on in the courtyard, whether it’s karaoke or an Aussie barbie. The kitchen is big and modern, with food lockers, and there are laundry facilities available as well.
The largest of the YHA properties in Sydney, this place has it all. Deep breath: kitchen, laundry, separate games, dining and TV rooms, high-speed internet terminals, mini supermarket, café, underground bar and a rooftop pool, sauna and barbecue area with panoramic city views. Popular activities include pub crawls, big-screen movie nights and walking tours. All of this is housed in an imposing, heritage-listed building opposite Central Station. There are around 50 twin rooms, some en suite, and dorms that sleep up to eight. There are also disabled-adapted rooms, 24-hour access, arking ($14), indoor pool, restaurant, TV rooms and easy connection to the lightrail.
Nestled comfortably in the middle of Sydney's historic district, the Rocks, Sydney Harbour YHA is fitted with airconditioning, barbecue and internet. The thing to really write home about, however, is the view from the rooftop terrace of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House – wow barely covers it. The hostel is surrounded by colonial pubs and is only a short trip via public transport to the city's premier nightlife areas.
This YHA hostel, built in a former parcels shed, is very near its Central counterpart the Sydney Central YHA. The design incorporates a real disused railway platform, with some dorms housed in replicas of train carriages (very Harry Potter) with bathrooms in the main building adjacent. Most dorms have between four and eight beds, and there are a couple of en-suite double rooms. It’s clean and bright, with a large open-plan communal area dotted with sofas, a sizeable kitchen, laundry facilities and an internet café. Mod cons include a fun small spa pool and airconditioning. It’s very popular, so book ahead.
This Potts Point joint is a hop, skip and a jump from the Cross's flashing lights but distant enough to offer some reprieve if you require it. All the good stuff is on offer here (aircon, free breakfast, security lockers) plus the added bonus of a trendy interior.
No one would disagree when we say that Surry Hills is Sydney's core of cool. That's why Bounce Hostel's location in the Surry foothills, is perfection for the discerning glampacker (glamorous backpacker). Wander up to Crown Street for some vintage shopping and a peerless café latte or make your way to Oxford Street to see and be seen as you're cutting a rug or two. All this and more is within sauntering distance from Bounce's charming decor and agreeable room rates. The hostel is opposite Central Station so getting anywhere in Sydney or NSW is simplicity.
With so much of Sydney’s backpacker accommodation squeezed into one or two inner-city suburbs, choosing a place to stay can feel a little arbitrary. The Glebe Village offers a whole new experience to those who are a little jaded the same-old, same-old approach of other hostels. Only a short distance from the centre of town, Glebe, with its cafés, bars and vintage markets, offers travellers the perfect opportunity to live and breath like a local. With all the comforts of your average hostel and the added benefits of a boutique B’n’B, the Glebe Village makes for a truly different backpacking experience.