We are getting much better at not judging a book (or bar) by its cover. It’s hip to be hidden. A bar, a restaurant but a hotel? How do you hide that? Perhaps behind a grand entrance that says M.W.S & D Board (Metropolitan Water Sewage and Drainage). That should do it.
It’s a transformation which has created a new architectural icon of Sydney in the way the QVB or GPO wows. Who could have imagined that the Sydney water board HQ in a dreary section of Pitt Street could be such a beauty.
The bell boys outside are the only clue, its then up the stairs and turn left. Jaws drop, heads go skyward. Eight rose coloured marble pillars soar 3 floors up reaching the glass art deco atrium streaming daylight into a sumptuous lounge filled with every kind of seating. Cherry velvet chairs, leather readers and dusky pink chaise lounges are set against a backdrop of marble, metal and coloured glass. At the far end is a majestic bar. You could be forgiven for thinking a group of flappers in their beaded head caps and glamorous outfits could burst through the doors. The scale is breathtaking.
Upstairs Deluxe Suite 418 reveals itself slowly. The oversize doors, high ceilings and dark moody woods blend art deco with contemporary design. The lounge is artfully decorated with paintings, a bar and two sofas. A narrow corridor wraps around the suite into another room dominated by huge kingsize bed and softly curving furniture. The bathroom is a reminder of a different era with white and maroon rectangular subway tiles with black taps and fixtures. Luxury touches such as Appelles goodies and the substitution of scratchy waffle bathrobes to a soft fluffy one will have you spellbound.
If this hotel was a sandwich, the excitement would be about the top and the bottom layer of bread rather than the filling. It’s a big call, but this has to be the best rooftop bar and resort swimming pool in Sydney for hotel guests only (NB: make more overseas friends!). The design unfolds as your move around each area; the bar on your left flows onto a range of gazebos and intimate areas to lounge whilst running water cascades to a series architectural pools. The main lap pool is set on an upper level, the perfect watery perch to survey the glamour below.
At night the atrium turns into a sparkling gem thanks to The Wilmot Restaurant led by Chef Ryan Hong (ex Rockpool Bar & Grill, Black by Ezard). The degustation is the way to go showcasing sourcing such as hand caught NSW abalone in a puddle of Arborio rice, dotted with seaweed, radish and turnip. Honey glazed duck breast and a signature salad resembling an exquisitely planted garden. The technique in deserts is undeniable. A passion cake with precision layers and a praline base which wishes you could start the meal all over again. The wine matching is exciting with bold choices such as German Reichsgraf Riesling through to a 2013 Chateau Bouscasse.
Not every new opening makes a mark on our city, but Primus Hotel Sydney does a rare thing. It’s preserved a part of our history, creating an escape to a bygone era of impeccable service and a bridge to our future.
Primus Hotel Sydney
339 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000