If you happen to walk past the library at the Strand Hotel at 5 o'clock on any given day, you’ll stumble across a golden bar cart stocked with Aperol, sparkling wine, soda, ice and fine wine glasses. The drinks are there for guests to help themselves to as they wish. It is cocktail hour, after all. It’s a Sunday when we visit, so I err on the side of caution. But like I said: it is cocktail hour. And we’re at the Stand. So drink we shall.
This is but one of many tasteful and considered touches you’ll discover with a stay at the 99-year-old hotel, bistro and bar located smack-bang on the corner of William and Crown Streets. (Chic bathrooms stocked with Grown Alchemist products and GHD hair dryers, custom-made olive-green bathrobes, and your own Nespresso machine for your morning brew, are others.)
This isn’t just happenstance: the Strand Hotel has recently undergone a multi-level restoration of its historic building, finishing the final phase of the renovations in October. And the results, to say the least, are grand.
The jazzed-up French-inspired hotel boasts 17 boutique rooms; a new rooftop bar with incredible cityscape views; and a bistro that hums along with chatter, laughter and the clinking of wine glasses on the evening we visit, the sounds of a night done well.
Back to the hotel. If Cruella de Vil designed her dream home, this would be it. Think black-and-white everything, bar a touch of chocolate brown (the leather couch in the sitting room); splashes of lilac and eggplant-purple (bouquets of roses and kangaroo paws dotted around); accents of dark green (plush velvet seats); and finishings of toasted sourdough (the rattan bed head). It’s elegant, sophisticated, and timeless, in the way only the French truly know how to be.
It’s elegant, sophisticated, and timeless, in the way only the French truly know how to be.
Walking into the Strand’s dark lobby you may first notice the sparkling chandelier, a nod to the opulence that’s to come. Black stairs lead you up to the hotel; the white walls dressed in arty black-and-white photographs reminiscent of the Tumblr era. The hotel’s rooms range from a cosy escape for one to a deluxe room with a sun-drenched balcony. Our room isn’t the latter, but it’s a knockout nonetheless, with crisp white linen on a perfectly made bed, dark wooden floorboards and black curtains encasing large windows with sunlight pouring through. The bathroom is glistening white; statement tiles and pops of black resulting in a slick look.
Once you’ve freshened up, head upstairs to the jewel in the crown, the Strand Hotel’s new rooftop bar, and take in the sweeping views of the city. If you happen to come on a weekend, expect to find a DJ on the decks creating a non-stop grooving soundtrack to your afternoon and evening (though importantly, no music could be heard from the room). The Strand Margarita and Negroni pair well with freshly shucked oysters kissed with ponzu and a fun take on a prawn cocktail, the pink aquatic crustaceans resting in a crunchy lettuce leaf to eat by hand. Looking around you’ll see people laughing, talking, dancing – proving the rooftop bar may very well be one of Sydney’s hottest new places. As the sun begins to set, head downstairs to the Strand Bistro where you’ll enjoy a modern laidback interpretation of French cuisine with seasonal Australian produce. The Eden mussels with a creamy garlicky sauce and the steak frites served with sauce bearnaise, are naturally both must-orders. The best bit? Once you’re done at dinner you won’t have to leave the building to go back to your hotel room.
Even if monochrome isn’t to your taste, don’t look away: the Strand has been reimagined into an elevated and classy hotel while retaining its original charm. Whether you’re a traveller looking for a base in the Emerald City, or a Sydneysider in need of a staycation, a visit to the Strand will be a luxe experience that you’ll want to drink up again and again. Alongside those Aperols, of course.
Time Out stayed as a guest of the Strand Hotel.