The lobby at the Ace Hotel
Photograph: Anson Smart

The best hotels in Sydney

Kick back in luxury in one of Sydney's swankiest stays, or save your coin at a more low-key (but still stylish) set-up

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The Emerald City is peppered with a whole host of stellar hotels that each individually carry their own little sparkly slice of je ne sais quoi. Whether you’re in town for one night, want a longer stay, are flitting through for business, or are travelling to Sydney for the very first time and want to make sure you’re in the best possible spot to properly explore the city, we have you covered.

Having earned our stripes reviewing hotels across the country, our team of writers (including Lifestyle Writer Winnie Stubbs and our Travel and News Editor Melissa Woodley) have shared their top picks – along with top tips on how to make the most of your stay.

From five-star luxury to boutique boltholes, this list is our edit of the best hotels in Sydney (in no particular order). Warning: it'll be hard for you to choose just one to stay at! Sorry, not sorry.

Rather stay under canvas? Find the best glamping sites in NSW or the best camping near Sydney.

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The best hotels in Sydney

  • Travel
  • The Rocks

Since opening in 1990, the Park Hyatt has played host to a steady stream of celebrities, heads of state and international jetsetters with money to burn. The carpets are so plush you’ll want to roll around on them like a dog – and the rooms are quiet, to the point they feel hermetically sealed. The biggest selling point here (beyond the deluxe rooms and incredible view of the Sydney Opera House) is the heated rooftop pool.

Time Out tip: The Park Hyatt’s food offerings are led by culinary director James Viles. Make sure you book in for a dining experience with one-hatted food and five-star views, at the Dining Room by James Viles.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Surry Hills

Every detail in the Paramount House Hotel has been carefully considered, meticulously placed and kept affectionately local. The 29-bedroom hotel straddles the former Australian HQ of Paramount Picture Studios and its former film storage warehouse; the latter is where you’ll find the timber-floored, terrazzo-tiled guest rooms (some with chic Japanese timber bathtubs).

Time Out tip: Head upstairs to Paramount Recreation Club for a perfect pastry in the sun, or downstairs to Paramount Coffee Project for an excellent flat white. Come sunset, go for dinner at Poly, then catch an indie flick at the Golden Age Cinema – all within the same building.

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  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Woolloomooloo

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 the Guinness World Records.

Time Out tip: There’s an indoor pool on the premises, but don’t waste warm-weather months swimming inside. The 50-metre, eight-lane Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, with great views, is only a short stroll away.

  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Darling Harbour

The Darling Harbour structure that might just lay claim to the title of Sydney’s most interesting skyscraper has finally opened. The New York-born hotel chain is known around the world for its edgy architecture and luxury offerings. The hotel houses 588 rooms and suites that are futuristic – there are lots of shiny, reflective surfaces, light features, interesting shapes and pops of colour, with fancy features like the W Mixbar so you can make your own cocktail in the comfort of your home for the night.

Time Out tip: Don't skip the breakfast buffet at Btwn restaurant – we reckon it's one of the best in Sydney.

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Alice Ellis
Sydney Editor
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  • Hotels
  • Chippendale

The Old Clare Hotel is full of ghosts – not the Stephen King kind, but the ghosts of parties past. If you listen closely you can probably hear echoes of Brit pop reverb off the mottled yellow tiles. But a whole new era has begun at the old Carlton Brewery site: now stands a vintage-styled cocktail bar beneath a slick boutique hotel, complete with rooftop pool. 

Time Out tip: Nearby you’ll find five-star restaurants, a party palace called the Abercrombie, a three-storey warehouse of contemporary Chinese art, and a beautiful, modern cinema complex.

  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Darling Harbour

This 590-room five-star high rise sits next to the International Convention Centre, in the heart of Darling Harbour. There are three bars, including a Champagne bar with an impressive selection of wines by the glass, and an onsite French restaurant called Atelier, which transforms into a decadent breakfast buffet each morning.

Time Out tip: You’ll want to spend some time in the infinity pool, which juts out dramatically over Darling Harbour and has its own bar for waterside cocktails. 

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  • Travel
  • Double Bay

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. Since a major facelift in 2015, the InterContinental Sydney Double Bay is at its best. There are 140 rooms and suites –all decorated in a contemporary, tasteful style that wouldn’t offend you, or your grandmother.

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.

  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Sydney

The rich history of Surry Hills' artistic, social and aesthetic evolution has been the inspiration behind the design of the Ace Hotel Sydney, the first of this luxury accommodation brand’s Australian outposts. Situated in the renovated Tyne House brick factory, the site of Australia’s first industrial ceramics kiln, the 264-key hotel also features a ground-floor all-day eatery, a lobby cocktail lounge and a rooftop restaurant and bar.  

Time Out tip: Head upstairs to Kiln for a fire-powered feast you won't forget, and then chuck on a vinyl in your room. This is like being in the '70s, but without the downer bits. 

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Watsons Bay

In Sydney, waking up to the sound of waves crashing tends to be a luxury reserved for the wealthy, but at this harbourside hotel in Watsons Bay, anyone willing to splash out on one of the waterfront rooms can enjoy a slice of that Eastern Suburbs' lifestyle for a day. The 31-room hotel was renovated in 2013, but its roots as a pitstop by the beach date back to the 19th century, when it was called the Palace Hotel. 

Time Out tip: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is five minutes’ walk from the turquoise waters and golden sands of Camp Cove. Take a book, or your snorkel gear, and get to know the locals gathered by the beach kiosk

  • Hotels
  • Sydney

Last but absolutely not least comes Capella: the spectacularly grand 192-room hotel housed in Sydney’s historic Sandstone Precinct. Here, your dream to live like royalty, even if just for one night, can become a reality with a naturally-lit 20-metre indoor pool, Italian frette linen, 24-hour room service controlled by a tablet, and goodies from natural (and lavish) skincare line Haeckels. Brasserie 1930 – a magnificent Parisian bistro – occupies the ground floor, so you won't need to leave the building for one of the most exceptional meals in the city.

Time Out tip: Head to McRae Bar for a pre-dinner Martini (you might well find yourself back there after you've eaten for a digestif)

 

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Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
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  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • The Rocks

Talk about a breakfast of champions. The aptly named Horizon Club Lounge up on levels 30-36 is where Horizon Club guests can lap up an Asian, Continental or whatever-you-like brekky buffet alongside views of Sydney Harbour, the Bridge and the Opera House. Ferries and cruise ships putter around below you like toys in a bathtub, and the view extends from the Blue Mountains in the west to the heads and the Pacific Ocean in the east. 

Time Out tip: The Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is perfectly located for access to the historical area of the Rocks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visiting the Sydney Opera House, and ferries to Taronga Zoo and Manly.

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Nick Dent
Associate Publisher, Time Out Australia
  • Travel
  • Darling Harbour

Yes, it's in a casino and it's in Pyrmont, but don't hold that against the Darling, which is all about contemporary design and the latest in-room technology. It's in a prime position near Sydney Harbour, and has panoramic views of the city skyline. Plus, the Darling offers four different kind of suites: Penthouse, Stellar, Adored and Jewel. 

Time Out tip: Just downstairs from the Darling, in the same complex, you’ll find Sokyo Japanese restaurant, which serves up some of the very best sashimi in the city. It's truly sagoi!

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  • Hotels
  • Bondi Beach

Taking up residence on Campbell Parade just metres back from one of the world’s most famous beaches, QT Bondi feels like a hip apartment – it's far from a stock-standard hotel. You’ll find long, rectangular rooms kitted out with glossy surf magazines, thongs and beach bags (available to purchase), a decent-sized kitchenette and a spacious balcony. 

Time Out tip: Head to Porch and Parlour for dinner and Bondi Markets for a hangover brekky on weekends.

  • Hotels
  • Darling Harbour

Housed in an ex-woolstore built in 1888, Ovolo’s Darling Harbour outpost works carefully with its heritage features. A brightly coloured painting by Sydney-based artist Jasper Knight has been digitised and used as wallpaper throughout the hotel, adding splashes of yellow and red to the old-school brickwork. Thanks to 19th-century thick walls, the rooms are whisper-quiet and equipped with iPads and Apple TVs. 

Time Out tip: If you’re in town for a convention at the ICC, the Ovolo is the most “boutique” choice within easy walking distance. 

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  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Barangaroo

Not unlike the gleaming exterior of the elegantly curved sapphire shard that now dominates Sydney’s skyline, bling is the watchword of the Crown Resort aesthetic. All that glitters may not be gold (although there’s still a lot of it), but it will otherwise likely be silver, chrome or crystal, like the six-storey chandelier atrium in the hotel lobby. Encrusted in no fewer than 396 sparklers, accented with a pulsing LED light show, it punches a hole straight through the building, offering guests on the first six floors a glimpse of the comings and goings below.

Time Out tip: Book in the warmer months – spending time at the infinity pool that looks out over the water at Barangaroo is a must.

  • Hotels
  • Darling Harbour

Australia’s largest upscale hotel overlooks the water at Sydney’s Darling Harbour – it takes in views of the CBD waterways, as well as providing vistas of the peak of the graceful ANZAC Bridge and the beginnings of the Parramatta River. The best bit: because the harbourside rooms face west, you get stunning views at dusk, as the sun sets over the water.

The 887-room Hyatt Regency took the chance for multi-million-dollar upgrades during lockdown, so it emerged from the pandemic with a chic new look channelling a subtle nautical vibe inspired by its harbourside setting. 

Time Out Tip: Head up to Zephyr Bar for a sunset cocktail overlooking the city, then downstairs to Sailmaker for a remarkably affordable, sustainably-sourced seafood feast.

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Alice Ellis
Sydney Editor
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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Darlinghurst

This 99-year-old French-inspired hotel, bistro and bar located smack-bang on the corner of William and Crown Streets is full of understated yet seriously luxe touches. Freshly renovated and restored, this historical Sydney venue boasts 17 boutique rooms, chic bathrooms, custom-made olive-green bathrobes, and your very own Nespresso machine for your morning brew. Great if you’re a traveller looking for a base in the Emerald City, or a Sydneysider in need of a staycation. 

Time Out tip: After you check in, trip upstairs to the Strand Hotel's rooftop bar for sweeping city views and sink a Strand Margarita alongside freshly shucked oysters. When the sun goes down, head below to Strand Bistro for a laissez-faire French meal. Magnifique. 

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Hotels
  • Dawes Point

If you’re wondering why so many boutique hotels in Sydney are built in old woolsheds, it’s because colonial Australia was built on a sheep’s back. Renovated in 2016, the hotel offers the “full Sydney” view. The decor is Hamptons holiday house, with a touch of global nomad – in the form of woven hangings and ikat print cushions.

Time Out tip: Walsh Bay is the centre of Sydney’s mainstage theatre precinct. Sydney Theatre Company is 20 minutes on foot from the Opera House.

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  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Mosman

Waking up to a view of lions lazing in the sun against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour is a magical experience that every wildlife-loving Sydneysider dreams of doing at least onece. Taronga Zoo's 62-room retreat allows you to do exactly that: with the sustainably-designed hotel offering guests VIP access to the zoo, plus all of the indulgences you'd hope for from a luxury hotel.

Time Out tip: Staying overnight at the zoo gives you greater chance of catching a glimpse of Taronga's nocturnal residents.

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Winnie Stubbs
Lifestyle Writer
  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Darling Harbour

It’s surprising that they’ve managed to create such an intimate feel at the new West Hotel Sydney, a boutique accommodation project from the Hilton, down among Barangaroo’s new towers.

Time Out tip: There’s a beautiful rooftop bar at Barangaroo House that is extremely popular with the locals.

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  • Travel
  • Sydney

If you want to be smack-bang in the middle of the city, The Hilton Sydney is where it’s at. It’s located on George Street, diagonally across from Town Hall Station, opposite the historic Queen Victoria Building (QVB), with easy access to the light rail down to Circular Quay and The Rocks or up the other way to Chinatown. And the other side of the hotel backs onto Sydney’s shopping heart, Pitt Street. Of course it’s gone through classy refurbishments since it was first built in 1974, but refurbs have kept the rooms’ original structures, so you won’t find big, glass walls overlooking the city like you often do in modern hotels – instead, you’ll feel like you’re up in your own private abode, with smaller windows that look out across Sydney. From right up high on the 39th floor where we stay, we look down at all of the tops of the surrounding buildings, including the green copper domes of the QVB.

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Alice Ellis
Sydney Editor
  • Travel
  • Sydney

For a quirky high-end stay in the heart of the CBD, you can’t go past QT Sydney. It packs 200 individualised rooms, a day spa (spaQ), men’s barber, two bars, a café and a restaurant into the heritage-listed Gowings building – and still feels boutique rather than behemoth.

Time Out tip: Though its central location makes a night out in the city easy, there's really no need to leave the hotel for an evening sampling Sydney's finest fare. On the first floor, Gowings is an opulent New York-inspired space serving up perfectly decadent steaks and excellent Martinis, and downstairs you'll find Parlour; a sultry space that will transport you to the intimate bistros of Paris.

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Winnie Stubbs
Lifestyle Writer
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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Haymarket

Above the many dumpling houses of Chinatown and just across the road from the energetic bustle of Paddy’s Market is the world’s first astrology hotel. 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. Plus, you get a charming city guide according to your star sign.

Time Out tip: Who needs room service when you’re staying in the centre of one of Sydney’s great Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine districts? Grab some dumplings to go and eat them in a posh hotel bed.    

  • Hotels
  • Mascot

Relaxation isn’t a word most people associate with airports, but as you watch planes cross the tarmac from the retro-chic, eighth-floor bar of this hotel, you might start to wonder where all your travel stress comes from. The Citadines Connect Sydney Airport is one of the newest hotels near Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport, and it’s a brilliant place to stay if you need quick access to the terminals. 

Time Out tip: Perch yourself at the bar that overlooks the runway and pretend you’re Don Draper on very important business.

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  • Hotels
  • Mascot

Located just a ten-minute shuttle from Sydney Airport, this hotel is your ultimate runway to play – whether you're just arriving or heading out of the Emerald City. As a guest here, you'll score a complimentary cocktail plus a lift to the airport on the hotel's bright pink shuttle bus. There's also a 24 hour gym for when jet lag sets in, plus 55-inch flat screens in every room and retro phones by the bed which will serenade you to sleep with a bedtime story.


Time Out tip: 
There’s a 24/7 snack and drinks corner for your late-night cravings, or if you can hold out until the morning – downstairs, Little Baxter has you covered with Double Roasters coffee and fresh pastries from Sonoma

 

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Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia
  • Hotels
  • Darling Harbour

Built in an existing 1930's Art Deco building in Darling Harbour, Hotel Aiden is the first Australian launch from the Great Western's boutique brand. There's old-world charm in the contemporary space, thanks to the classic hotel touches (like mammoth fluffy white beds) combined with futuristic notions of sustainability and tech (like a touch-screen self check-in station and an F7 air filtration system that blitzes COVID-19 particles). The rooms are extremely compact, but they do the job well for anyone coming to Sydney on business, or for those who prefer exploring town to sitting inside their hotel room. Full of hyper-modern touches, accomodating staff and cosy (and clean) vibes, this is an excellent and affordable hotel. 

Time Out tip: Get a balcony room for stretching views across Darling Harbour, peruse their pillow menu, and order their avocado toast in the morning. You won't regret it. 

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Maya Skidmore
Contributor
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  • Hotels
  • The Rocks

Nestled comfortably in the middle of Sydney's historic district, the Rocks, Sydney Harbour YHA is fitted with airconditioning, barbecue and internet, and is a brilliant, yet budget accomodation option right in the heart of Sydney. 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.

Time Out tip: Head up to the rooftop at literally anytime of day for million dollar views that won't cost you your left leg. 

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