Position, position, position. Intercontinental Sydney's dress-circle location has always been chief among its assets, and it's even more important now that the $200 million overhaul announced last year is yet to materialise. (If they wait much longer, those late '80s furnishings and fittings will be back in fashion.) Few days will start better than this: throw open the curtains to the most impressive view in town – right between the sails of the Opera House if you're lucky, and across the Royal Botanic Garden and Port Jackson. You could gaze upon this splendour from your window seat, but instead grab a map from the obliging concierges and venture forth. Though the hotel is looking tired, Sydney has never looked better.
Consider upgrading to a room with club access to Sydney's most spectacularly positioned hotel lounge. This bird's-eye view of Sydney from the 32nd floor is accompanied by breakfast, all-day snacks, drinks and canapés and concierge service.
Make the most of such close proximity to the Botanic Garden. Plunge in for free daily guided tours, Aboriginal heritage tours three times a week, or download a free app for self-guided audio walking tours.
Steamed pork buns, beef congee, baked ham sliced from the bone and freshly poached rhubarb are a few of the welcome touches at the breakfast buffet in first-floor Café Opera ($35). Attentive staff serve good coffee to tables and squeeze fruit and vegetable juices to order.
Surrounded by two floors of sandstone colonnades, The Cortile lobby bar best displays the hotel's handsome 19th-century bones. Gather here for high tea beneath the atrium, or for a quick pre-dinner drink.
This review was made independently for the Gourmet Traveller Hotel Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way.