When it’s torrentially raining and you’re setting off on a seaside staycation to a hotel whose drawcard is an Amalfi Coast-inspired, striped-lounger-fringed rooftop pool with stunning harbour views, there’s no point resisting the comedy of the moment. Set in the primped and carefully preened eastern suburb of Sydney, the InterContinental Double Bay is the second outpost of the global hotel chain in the city, following in the footsteps of its CBD predecessor. And while its photogenic pool might have lured you in, there’s plenty more here to make your stay special.
There’s nothing better to do in bad weather than to sit and drink a cup of tea – especially alongside a three-tiered stand of delicate desserts, finger sandwiches and scones, while you’re cosy inside and a storm lashes at the high windows. Check in and recover from your journey (even if it was just from one suburb over) by taking high tea ($62 per person, served between noon-4pm) in the Stillery, the hotel’s main dining space which moonlights as a lavish gin bar stocked with more 60 local and international gins and signature cocktails. The hotel's public spaces are all set up for awe: gold drips from the foyer ceiling in the form of a 160-kilogram chandelier, a seven-metre long polished bar takes up the centre of the dining area, while arch windows allow natural light into the grand, modern space – it’s been pared back and polished since the hotel’s previous iteration as the Ritz Carlton (once known for its long list of celebrity and presidential guests and later, as the site of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence’s death).
When you’re stuffed full of choux pastry and petit fours, take a gander around the greenery-filled provincial courtyard in the centre of the hotel, set with bouffant trees and diamond-cut hedges. The space brings a little French flair to Double Bay’s quiet, seaside streets – but in line with the neighbourhood, the whole vibe is more polished Chateau of Versailles than grungy Parisian chic. As long as the name isn’t a deterrent, head down to visit the Trumps Spa onsite for that elusive post-facial glow, or book in for a massage – there’s an indulgent green tea and salt exfoliation package, while the marine body wrap uses sea plants, algae, marine minerals and plants essences for the ultimate ‘detoxifying’ experience.
Once you’re ready for a break from all that relaxation, wander up to your room, one of the 140 situated in formation around the courtyard. They’re spacious and bright, with automated curtains (the little luxuries) which open onto courtyard, bay or village views. With dark, thick-pile carpeting, stocky tables and somewhat generic ceramic fruit art, the decor is comfortable and plush if not cookie-cutter – don't expect the interior chutzpah you could expect at a boutique outfit. Bathrooms are airy and modern, with luxurious Italian marbled surfaces and tiles nodding back to the communal spaces downstairs. There's a stocked mini bar, a bottle of Moët if you're kicking off the party in your own digs, and a 24-hour 'Technogym' which promises a "totally immersive" workout experience, if you'd rather work up a sweat beforehand.
And if (unlike us) you’re there on a day fit for it, you can sidle up to the rooftop where you'll find more lightness and brightness aplenty. The rooftop pool – currently only open to guests of the hotel – is the InterContinental’s glitzy crown jewel. Lie back on an azure and white striped daybed with a glass of bubbles from the bar, or take over a cabana by the sandstone-walled pool area. The harbour, with its drifting yachts and lazily lapping waves will draw your gaze wherever you are, and there’s no reason to move once you’ve nabbed a spot with a full glorious panorama in view. Except maybe to hop in the glittering pool, towel off, and reprise your lounger seat with a fresh desire for a sip of Champagne.
Hot tip: Walk along New South Head Road to the Murray Rose Pool (that's Redleaf, to the locals) before sunset to find a harbour beach and large swimming enclosure that’s ripe for a dip any time of year.
Rooms start from $254 per night, including an a la carte breakfast. Time Out was a guest of the Intercontinental Double Bay.