Sydney has always had a great tradition of boutique hotels,from the iconic Regent's Court in Kings Cross, which opened its doors in 1990, to the sexy Kirketon, the bold Medusa and the smart Establishment. While these trail-blazers are still the standard-bearers, a new and diverse crop of boutique escapes have opened their doors, from thoughtfully restored heritage-listed terrace houses to sleek city apartments with amazing views, or beachside beauties with wraparound terraces. Here's our pick of Sydney's best boutique accommodation.
This is really impressive. No, it's not the massive plasma tellies or the Xbox and iPod docking stations. It's not even the fully stocked minibar, the king-sized bed, the chic interiors or the Kevin Murphy hair products in the bathroom. What really excites us is the huge wraparound terrace with dramatic city views in the courtyard suite on the second floor of the Diamant Hotel. Few hotels offer this sort of outdoor space - enough to host 50 - and we're betting suite 201 is going to have the party set beating a path to its door. Other rooms in the Diamant have their own charms. Harbourview rooms on the right-hand side of the hotel do everything it says on the box, while the William Street boulevard suite offers direct city views, but without the terrace. The hotel's address, at the junction of Kings Cross and Darlinghurst, where nightlife and restaurants are the big attractions, means you'll get a bit of sound should you decide to leave the windows open, but with that terrace, who cares?
We love Courtyard suite 201 and that amazing terrace.
Price Deluxe rooms $188; district and harbour rooms $228; courtyard rooms $268; William Street boulevard rooms $268; courtyard suites $468.
Diamant Hotel, 14 Kings Cross Rd, Kings Cross, (02) 9295 8888, www.diamant.com.au.
We have three words for you. Location, location, location. Fraser Suites is the ultimate inner-city pad. Sydney's first five-star, all-suites residence was designed by London's Foster + Partners, the team behind the new Beijing Airport and London's Millennium Bridge. This 42-level beauty with slick interiors has killer views - the three-bedroom duplex penthouse suite has floor-to-ceiling windows along two sides, offering panoramic vistas across the city. And then, of course, there's that location, smack bang in the middle of the city. Our favourite room is the incredibly lavish penthouse, but if you're after something a little easier on the wallet, there's a range of other room sizes and prices and they all have the same fabulous floor-to-ceiling windows. Naturally, all the mod cons are there, including full kitchen facilities (except in the studio suites), bathrobes and slippers, high-speed broadband internet access and more.
We love The three-bedroom duplex penthouse, absolute luxury and amazing city views.
Price Studio deluxe (weekends, breakfast included) from $239 per night, $40 extra to upgrade to a one-bedroom deluxe or $80 extra for a one-bedroom premier with bath; three-bedroom duplex penthouse $1500 a night.
Fraser Suites, 488 Kent St, Sydney CBD, (02) 8823 8888, www.frasershospitality.com.
Australia Street Cottage
When Newtown residents Jane Johnson and husband Brian Murphy bought the tiny cottage next door to save the site from development, little did they know they'd snapped up a piece of history. After chipping away the ugly concrete render that encased the house, they found a beautifully preserved building made of 1850s Pyrmont sandstone. The couple converted the derelict cottage into a bijou escape in the heart of Sydney's inner west. Old meets new with bare sandstone walls and modern furniture (original windows have been retained and you can see the outline of the original fireplace on the sitting room wall). Attention to detail is evident from the yoga mat thoughtfully placed in the cupboard should you wish to join a class at the school next door, to the well-stocked pantry and the insect net over the queen-sized bed. There's no airconditioning so it's windows open and, given the location close to busy King Street, you can get a fair bit of noise on weekend nights but, that aside, this is a real gem.
We love The sense of history that's been lovingly preserved in this character-filled cottage.
Price $200 a night for 2-3 nights; $180 a night for 4-6 nights; $160 for seven nights or more.
227 Australia St, Newtown, (02) 9519 7509, www.australiastreetcottage.com.
This is budget accommodation, but not as you know it. Hotel Altamont, little brother of the swish Kirketon a few doors down the road, has the same great location as its famous sibling, without the price tag. The laid-back Altamont has an Indonesian vibe and, while we love the loft room, the biggest in the house, we prefer the four deluxe rooms with small courtyards. Despite the inner-city address, these rooms are whisper quiet and have doors opening to an outdoor space - a luxury for the location and for such a tiny room tariff. Room 9 at the front of the hotel, meanwhile, has no courtyard but a seriously big bathroom. Breakfast is included and all rooms have aircon, cable TV and ensuites.
We love The deluxe courtyard rooms… and the low, low prices.
Price $139 to $150 a night, depending on the room type.
Hotel Altamont, 207 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst, (02) 9360 6000, www.altamont.com.au.
From Terry Schwamberg-Kaljo, the woman who brought us Medusa and The Kirketon Hotel, comes this luxury one-bedroom apartment in Darlinghurst, a fully self-contained private sanctuary where guest stays vary between a couple of nights to six months. "We get a lot of international guests here - they really like the minimalist style - and many are repeat visitors," says Contemporary Hotels manager Pip Kelly. Indeed, this light and bright two-level apartment features three outdoor terraces, a fully equipped designer kitchen, plasma TV, wireless internet connection,top-quality bed linens, fully equipped laundry and high-tech security system. And it comes with all the perks of a hotel stay - namely someone else doing the cleaning. It's fully serviced every three days, so you can nip down to Victoria Street for a latte while the maid's making up your 'room'.
We love The privacy of a very stylish home, with all the lovely conveniences of a hotel.
Price $485 per night for 2-4 nights; $385 per night for 5+ nights. Minimum two-nights, long-stay rates available.
Liverpool St, Darlinghurst, (02) 9331 2881, www.contemporaryhotels.com.au.
It may be Sydney's most famous beach, but when it comes to accommodation options around Bondi, the tide is well and truly out. Thank goodness, then, for the perfectly placed Ravesi's, right across from this iconic stretch of sand and surf. Pick of the guestrooms is the spacious deluxe beachfront split-level suite (room 12), with amazing, uninterrupted views of the sea, but we're intrigued as to why the wraparound balcony is fully enclosed. That said, it's a great spot and the more moderately priced side-view rooms, or the smaller split-level suites with terraces, are good value. Plus, the slick new cocktail bar Drift doesn't do a bad Negroni.
We love The beach views from the beachfront split-level suite.
Price Side-view rooms $260 per night; beachfront rooms $325; one-bedroom suite $295; split-level suite with terrace $295-395; deluxe beachfront split-level suite $495.
Ravesi's Hotel & Restaurant, cnr Hall St and Campbell Pde, Bondi Beach, (02) 9365 4422, www.ravesis.com.au.