Destination Guide


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Photo by Will Oey

The enthusiasm in Sydney is electrifying, with once-gritty city neighborhoods blooming into hotbeds of art and design. Amidst the new are the essential elements that make Sydney a perennial on the wish lists of world travelers: pristine beaches, the spectacular harbor and iconic opera house and the enviably sybaritic lifestyle.


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large hotel room with two huge windows overlooking sydney opera house

Park Hyatt Sydney

While the Park Hyatt has long been the undisputed top property in the city, it underwent a total overhaul in 2011 and reopened in the spring of 2012 with sexy new interiors and even more glass windows to take advantage of its spectacular harbor side perch. As soon as you enter the lobby, you are greeted with water views and a stunning angle on the famous Sydney Opera House. In true Australian fashion, there is a laid-back languor to the ambiance, so rather than a real lobby, there is a waterside living room where guests can gather or order light snacks. The long, low four-story building curves along the waterfront, and the Dining Room faces the boardwalk that runs along the harbor, giving diners the feeling of being in the midst of one of Sydney’s main leisure spots.

The 155 guest rooms have a sleek, urban aesthetic with floor-to-ceiling windows and residential touches like books and Australian artwork. Each is outfitted with the latest state-of-the art apartment wizardry, such as electronic blinds and sliding doors so the bathtubs can be open to the view or shut in for privacy. Of course, the best rooms have views of the harbor and/or the Opera House. Make sure to ask whether there will be any fireworks shows during your stay;

The rooftop has a small but attractive pool and its bar is a popular spot for a cocktail. As this is the city’s hands-down luxury property, it is where all of the celebrities and dignitaries stay when they are in town, so famous faces are frequently spotted here.

Tip: Ask whether there will be fireworks behind the Opera House during your stay. Many weekend nights and special occasions fireworks explode over the harbor and there are lots of good spots in the hotel from which to watch them.

The Observatory Suite at The Langham, Sydney, Australia

The Langham Sydney

When the Langham reopened its doors in 2014 after a $30 million renovation, it was nearly unrecognizable. The boutique downtown property emerged as fresh and stylish as ever, sending Sydney hotel goers into a frenzy of excitement and affirming its status as the only competitor to Sydney’s ultra-sleek Park Hyatt.

Located in the Rocks historic area, the otherwise discreet Langham is given away by the light pink, vintage London taxi parked outside its door (and available for guest use). The stylish marble foyer features an atrium, several fireplaces and polished metal chandeliers along with chic touches like teal-upholstered chairs, patterned throw pillows and abundant floral bouquets.

Hand-selected fixtures and adornments are mismatched in perfect proportions, allowing the Langham to feel more like a stylish residence than a city hotel. As part of the revamp, the hotel acquired an impressive collection of paintings by some of Australia’s big name artists. (It now has the largest private collection of Sydney Nolan pieces.) Just off the lobby is Palm Court, which serves as the hotel’s tearoom during the day and transforms into a smart cocktail bar at night, the perfect genteel setting for a nightcap with friends.

This sophisticated yet whimsical aesthetic carries through to the hotel’s 98 rooms and suites, which are decorated in a cream palette, with studded headboards and colorful photographs. The most coveted accommodations are the Terrace Rooms, named for their spacious patios overlooking Darling Harbour and the cable-stayed Anzac Bridge. The most thoughtfully designed accommodation though, is the Observatory Suite, flooded with natural light through triple floor-to-ceiling windows. Though it does not offer water views, it’s replete with transitional furniture, eclectic pieces and a stately fireplace–not edited, but not fussy–and boasts the hotel’s only white marble bathroom.

Atypical of boutique properties, the Lanham offers a spa and health club, access to private tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool with a frescoed ceiling depicting the starry night sky.

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