large hotel room with two huge windows overlooking sydney opera house
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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.

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Dinning Room at Contemporary Hotels, Sydney, Australia

Contemporary Hotels apartments

Style setter Terry Kaljo – founder of the Medusa and The Kirketon Hotel, two of the city’s first boutique stays – has branched out into private apartment rentals with her Contemporary Hotels group, so travelers can get an authentic sense of Sydney living in some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. Choose from seven fully self-contained private pads (including one knockout Darlinghurst penthouse), each a spacious sanctuary featuring designer kitchens, plasma TVs, wireless technology and high-tech security systems, not to mention dazzling harbor and city views. Each apartment is fully serviced every three days.

Suite at Establishment Hotel, Sydney, Australia

Establishment Hotel

A financial-district favorite, the Establishment has all the amenities of a luxury hotel with the intimacy of a boutique inn. A short stroll from Sydney Harbour, the hotel offers a choice of décor in its guest rooms: a hip, Zen-inspired warehouse-like simplicity with black polished floorboards and a more traditional setting featuring autumnal tones and fresh flowers. (Both have marble-and-glass bathrooms that are fabulous and roomy.) The award-winning Est restaurant is presided over by one of Sydney’s best chefs, Peter Doyle. Hotel guests also get access to the elite Hemmesphere Bar, whose members include Sydney’s movers and shakers – and don’t miss the group’s new hotspots Mr. Wong, a Cantonese dining hotspot, and cocktail joint Gin Garden, both in the same Bridge Lane building.

Living Room at Four Seasons Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Four Seasons Sydney

With an envious location in Sydney’s Central Business District, the Four Seasons is set within walking distance to some of the city’s best sites and restaurants. Its setting in a high-rise building means that many of the rooms and suites offer great views over the harbor, the Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge.

With 531 guest rooms, the hotel feels large and is geared toward the corporate traveler and those who favor a view above all else. Contemporary in style with brown and blue color schemes, the hotel feels nautical in design but skews more towards a cruise ship in style than marine chic. The Full Harbor View rooms have sweeping panoramas over the water and the Opera House, while the larger suites offer full-frontal views over Sydney’s landmark bridge and the harbor beyond. The in-room décor is standardized and features cream, blue and brown palates and floor-to-ceiling windows with brown marble bathrooms with separate shower and bathtub. All of the rooms are well appointed and comfortable, but lack a distinct sense of place and style.

The property is fully equipped with a fitness facility, spa and small outdoor swimming pool outfitted with cabanas, chaise lounges and food and beverage service. The hotel’s main dining room, Pei Modern, offers daily breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves modern cuisine with a focus on fresh produce. Bar is a discreet lounge that serves craft beer, biodynamic wines and a variety of inventive cocktails.

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hotel lobby with reddish marble columns and large square skylight in center

Kimpton Margot Sydney

Inside a reinvented Art-Deco building in Sydney's Central Business District (CBD), the Kimpton Margot is right next to Hyde Park and offers rooms complete with at-home comforts, plush furnishings and botanical displays. Make sure to check out the rooftop bar and pool.

Indagare member Molly V.W. recommends a stay here, noting the great service, tasty breakfast dishes and walkable location: "We had a one-bedroom suite with a large bedroom and large living area (with a queen rollaway) and one full bath and one half-bath. The service was great. We ate at the restaurant for breakfast, which was very good. It's a very nice walk through Hyde Park and into the Botanical Gardens; this is also where the art museums are and a beautiful 50-meter outdoor public pool. It's one block from the tram that takes you to the harbor if you don’t want to walk (which takes about 20 minutes). We preferred staying here and not at the harbor because the harbor is a major tourist area, and the CBD was closer to the neighborhoods we wanted to check out—like Paddington, Surrey Hills and Bondi, which all have great restaurants."

Full Indagare review coming soon.

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Ovolo

This property was formerly a Taj and a W Hotel, which explains the groovy design and young vibe. (Its original incarnation was actually a wool and cargo warehouse, hence the industrial bones.) Ovolo is located on the wharf at Wolloomoolloo, in the same converted warehouse building where Russell Crowe has an apartment and where the uber-cool Otto’s restaurant is, so there is always a hip and happening crowd around. The location is away from the business area or the main tourist sites near the Rocks, but it is closer to the eastern suburbs and beaches like Bondi. Since its central WaterBar draws a lot of party folks, if you want a quiet room, it is best to request one as far from the central atrium as possible. The best rooms are the 36 Loft Suites, which are duplexes.

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Paramount House Hotel

Sydney's 29-room Paramount House Hotel is located in the Surry Hills neighborhood and has a hipster vibe with amenities like a speakeasy-style bar, Art Deco movie theater and fitness center with daily workout classes.
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QT Bondi

The only upscale hotel in Sydney's Bondi Beach, QT Bondi is two blocks from the waterfront and the perfect base for low-key travelers who value a Bondi Beach location.
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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