As Lizzo professes, we are 100 per cent that bitch who deserves a night in an outrageously luxurious hotel once in a while. Thankfully, you don't need to leave Sydney to find world-class accommodation where you can get your glam on for an evening or two. To guide you in your search for the temporary high life, we’ve tested five-star spa hotels overlooking the city and boutique offerings that provide proximity to a wild night on the town. Stay here, then check out the gigs happening this week, and the best clubs in Sydney.
RECOMMENDED: Sleep under canvas in these luxury glamping locations.
Sydney's best luxury hotels
This 590-room five-star beauty is Sydney’s first luxury hotel built in the CBD (central business district) since 1999. Splash out on one of the corner rooms with a view of Darling Harbour. The bedroom has a long wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, but the bathroom has one of the best views in the city with sheer glass on two sides. Enjoy a long soak while watching the city buzz by at its regular frantic pace.
Time Out tip: You’ll want to spend some time in the infinity pool, which juts out dramatically over Darling Harbour.
The hotel was extensively renovated in 2015 with a fresh palette of gold and silver and specially commissioned carpets and artworks. A spectacular chandelier made of three brass rings hangs in the atrium of Horizon Club and can be seen from many points on the foreshore, fulfilling the architect’s original vision of the building as a ‘lighthouse’. The rooms evoke classic luxury with marble bathrooms and the largest windows of any of the city’s harbourfront hotels.
Time Out tip: Take a stroll through the beautiful waterfront Barangaroo Reserve just to the west of the hotel.
There are 140 contemporary rooms and suites, a rooftop pool with cabanas, several restaurants, bars and retail spaces. In its previous iterations it hosted US presidents, our own Prime Ministers (Bob Hawke famously ran through the area in budgie smugglers), Princess Diana and, sadly, Michael Hutchence on the last night of his life. Now the InterContinental Sydney Double Bay is at its brilliant best after a huge renovation.
Time Out tip: Walk along New South Head Road to the Murray Rose Pool, a harbour beach and large swimming enclosure that’s ripe for a dip any time of year.
The jaw-dropping, close-up vista of both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge is a major selling point, but you get what you pay for (and that's a lot) – the cheaper rooms offer just glimpses of what the more expensive suites have framed through their windows. A recent refurbishment has transformed the top-end suites into über-minimalist apartment-style hangouts. Extras include a rooftop swimming pool, deluxe spa and much-vaunted 24-hour butler service.
Time Out tip: The Park Hyatt’s minimally named bar the Bar makes some of the best cocktails you can find by the water; and definitely the best club sandwich.
You know you're in a swanky hotel when the menus extend to the bedding. You're sure to get a good night's sleep here with 400-thread Egyptian cotton sheets and a hand-picked pillow menu, so you can find a neck height that's just right. Even the name sounds posh – The Darling – and they make sure that's reflected in every inch beyond the bed, too, from the textured wallpaper and bespoke furniture, to eucalyptus-scented pool.
Time Out tip: Just downstairs from The Darling, in the same complex you’ll find Sokyo Japanese restaurant, where chef Chase Kojima serves up some of the best sushi and sashimi in the city.
The Harbour View Suite – which keeps the heritage-listed building’s original timberwork intact – has waterfront vistas, gleaming white furnishings and luxe toiletries courtesy of Appelles Apothecary & Bar. (Toss the ginger lily-scented Himalayan bath salts and get lost in the giant tub before swanning around your room in white cotton bath robes.)
Time Out tip: Never done the BridgeClimb? Fix that. Locals leave just as gobsmacked as tourists after they enjoy views from its summit. Climbs run every day of the year.
Taronga has taken bold strides into the luxury accommodation market with its purpose-built 62-room Retreat. This complex of sleek, timber-clad lodges encircling a private bushland garden full of native fauna is a fusion of elegant sophistication and sustainable design, where wildlife and the high-life exist side by side.
Time Out tip: the average stay is just a single night, but a longer stay grants you unlimited access to the zoo.
There’s a cute little pool here for the lap-swimming inclined and plenty of rooms have harbour views. Book into one of two Insta-worthy, ’70s referrencing ‘Rockstar Suites’, which have harbour views, eccentric neon lighting, hammock nooks and round, marble bars.
Time Out tip: The Ovolo is right next to one of Sydney’s loveliest walks. Wander around the finger wharf to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, then head through the Royal Botanic Garden to the Opera House.
Our CBD is not like Melbourne’s. There you expect the laneways to be teeming with small bars and boutique hotels for a double dose of whimsy when you’re staying in the heart of the city. In Sydney it’s a different story, which is why it’s surprising that they’ve managed to create such an intimate feel at the new West Hotel Sydney, a boutique accommodation project from Hilton down amongst Barangaroo’s new towers.
Time Out tip: There’s a beautiful roof top bar at Barangaroo House that is extremely popular with locals.
For a taste of inner-city luxury, you can’t beat QT Sydney. It packs 200 individualised rooms, a day spa (spaQ), men’s barber, two bars, a café and restaurant into the heritage-listed Gowings building – and still feels boutique rather than behemoth. 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.
Time Out tip: When you wake up, head downstairs to Parlour Lane Roasters.
Money might not buy you a lifetime of happiness, but it will certainly achieve it in the short term if you use it to book a weekend escape at Jonah’s at Whale Beach. It's a famous romantic getaway for Sydneysiders who want to soak their troubles away in a spa bath that has sightlines out to the ocean.
Time Out tip: Arrange a private sail with Taylor Made Escapes, who will take you out on the high seas with a heartily stuffed picnic hamper and a bottle of Bollinger bubbly. Landlubbers might prefer to stay put and cruise the award-winning whopper of a wine list instead.
This five-star apart-hotel 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 design has delivered plenty of bells and whistles without overwhelming the overall experience.
Time Out tip: Test drive the mood lighting in the pool, where you can also stream your own music via the integrated sound system.
Get outta town
Sometimes you just need to GTFO of Sydney – and you don’t need to travel far to make a couple of nights away feel like a holiday. Whether you’re in need of a beach break, a hike in the mountains, or an escape to the country, we’ve got ten short getaways from Sydney (all still within NSW) to inspire you