PLAN something special during your trip to Sydney with a stay at one of these plush and vibrant hotels in the heart of the city.
From the moment you walk through the discreet front door, found down an alleyway just off bustling Pitt St, you know you've arrived somewhere special. Incense fills the air in this five-star cocoon of luxury where every detail is thought of - from the Bulgari toiletries and Philippe Stark tapware to the complimentary broadband and an iPad which allows you to choose music, movies, newspapers and more. Centrally located, this boutique hotel is the result of man-about-town Justin Hemmes' vision to create a hub of style in a heritage building. And he has truly succeeded; while it is within walking distance of all the main Sydney sights, it's incredibly hard to leave the hotel with its own cornucopia of the city's coolest bars and restaurants, including the spacious and elegant Main bar which attracts a mature and sophisticated crowd, the Raj-style Gin Garden and top restaurants including sushi-e and the fine dining Est. We booked through the VIP service Mr and Mrs Smith to ensure maximum privileges including a bottle of bubbles in our room - and free VIP access to the heavenly Hemmesphere lounge bar upstairs and the nearby hip Ivy and Pool Club. For further info visit the site above or phone 0800 896 671.
What to wear: A discreet designer such as Prada or the Zen-like beauty of Akira Isogawa.
Address: 5 Bridge Lane, Sydney
Phone: 02 9240 3100
It may be slightly naff, but no matter how many times we see them, the grand shapes of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge still excite us. The stunning view of these Sydney landmarks is just one reason to stay at the luxury Shangri-La (the unbelievably comfortable beds are another). For an extra-special view of the iconic harbour, head up to the Blu Bar on Level 36 at night. It's all rather chilled out and serene, with scented candles burning in the lobby and a luxurious spa open too: something special in Sydney's inner city.
What to wear: Something by Sydney-based designer Dion Lee, who showed inside the Sydney Opera House during Australian Fashion Week.
Address: 176 Cumberland St, Sydney
Phone: 02 9250 6000
Medina Executive Suites
Book here if you're looking for space, not ambience. The generously sized self-catering apartments allow you to make yourselves at home with ease. Popular with business travellers, what we love is the generously sized outdoor pool, and the fact that it's right across the road from Chinatown - a Sydney must-do, especially at night when it's thriving with scrummy food stalls and yum cha restaurants - plus it's within easy walking distance of the CBD and Surry Hills.
What to wear: There's no bar or restaurant to be seen in, so put on your comfiest walking shoes and head out and explore the city.
Address: 2 Lee St, Sydney
Phone: 02 8396 9800
The Observatory hotel
We'd stay at The Observatory hotel in The Rocks area just for the incredible 20m pool - which comes with a ceiling of lights that mimic the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. Bliss. The lobby and large bedroom suites reflect a similar feeling of luxurious relaxation, with mahogany furniture and tapestry curtains; while the Globe Bar hosts a charming high tea - or for those with a spiritual bent, a "Mystic afternoon tea", where you can get your tea leaves read.
What to wear: A vintage floral, mid-length tea dress, to fit in with all that old-fashioned elegance.
Address: 89-113 Kent St, Sydney
Phone: 02 9256 2222
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