It’s been four years in the making as we watched one of the world’s most luxurious hotels raise meter by meter before our eyes; the final transformation of the Sydney skyline. If London has the gherkin, we now have a fitter, shinier, more glamorous version all with a delicious twist. This is what $2.2bn of pocket change will get you. Standing 275m tall, you can be a modern day goldilocks with over 327 bedrooms including the 20 or so two bedroom villas with butler service. A few have their own private pool plus a residential section. With over eleven restaurants and bars on five levels. It’s not very Australian to brag, but, well it’s hard not to.
We have heard the gossip, this is the biggest A-lister hotspot right now. With international flights closed for the time being the glitterati are descending on Sydney’s finest playground. What is a stay like at Australia’s best hotel?
We are keen, super keen. We have 24hrs here and we want to make the most of it. With a little bit of last minute pleading we have an early check in. Unlike many CBD hotels, the towers are at over 70% occupancy, especially at weekends. We pull into the driveway and our valet welcomes us. $70 will get you a VIP experience. Keys are left in his hand and so is our luggage.
We step through the doors into another world of sexy marble, gold and silver bling!
It’s 12.30 and the place is buzzing with beautiful people and stunning. we are guided to navy roped off lanes, we are greeted and welcomed as we wait and are ushered to a receptionist at their silver nugget booths. With keys to room 1602 we are escorted to the lifts and let loose.
We whizz up to our room full of expectation, but hang on, this is a ‘deluxe bedroom’ not the executive suite booked and over the next hour and half we are waiting, as our happiness bubble is popped, and the communication machine works itself out over several phone calls, emails of proof. Sincere apologies are offered and two hours later we are finally conjoined with our luggage and in the right room.
The Room – Executive Suite 1702
Hello luvva. Whoah! it’s worth the wait. Having seen a normal bedroom, for the extra $700 a night the difference is gobsmacking. I would rather have one amazing night here and feel like a rock star, than a nice room at around $900 a night. However, your call.
We have a corner suite with sweeping views onto a city which I am falling in love with all over again. It curls around itself from the entrance corridor with a full size fridge (which we can put our vintage Verve into- hurrah!) to a dining room table and a banquet sofa that hugs the walls of the room. Grey and white moody thick carpets are kissing marble tiled edging with expansive floor to ceiling windows onto this beautiful city and its busy ferry filled waterways. Mirrored columns grow like metallic trees through both the lounge and bedroom.
The king-size bed is dressed in silky-soft linen and technology is abundant: multiple USB ports, a tablet to control curtains, climate, lighting and access to hotel services. There are three TVs, including one facing an indulgent oval bath with birthday suit celebratory views. The bathroom is slick, clad in black and white marble, with twin vanities, a rain shower and Grown Alchemist amenities.
If you have stayed in luxury hotels in Asia, especially Japan, you know Toto. He is your toilet – with tricks! He welcomes your entrance with a toilet lid raised salute, warm seat, pre-sanitising spray and a bum-boggling range of remote control experiences too!
The wait is over – That Swimming Pool
Pink is singing “So what, I’m still a rockstar, la,la, la, la-lah”. Well, entering this stunning pool scene is like another world which makes you feel like you are. The sun is shining. Blue. yellow and white striped towels are the Mediterranean colours to this A-lister oasis. A slate edged pool has water cascading into a lower level with sunken round daybeds and luxury loungers.
There are sparkly bikinis, designer sunnies, muscles and a lot of bling. These are the beautiful people that can be poolside without their makeup. Couples are soaking up the sunshine, hanging in cabanas, girl groups are chatting and anything goes with cocktails and beers being enjoyed in an infinity pool which looks out to Sydney and beyond.. This is as close to superstar-dom as it gets! Wham’s Club Tropicanna eat your heart out.
Anyone who has lusted after Crazy Rich Asians will understand the scene. The space is stunning. Opulent views across the harbour, intimate sofas to dine from, it is like being invited into a Shanghai mansion, textiles, lighting and service is reminiscent of the Orient yet with an Australian spin. It’s a theme that weaves through our dinner. We start with macadamia nuts from Darwin, tossed with Cape York seaweed and native Uluru honey.
Our host for the evening is Errol de Fontaine, his ESP is so remarkable we end chatting to the table next door about our combined fandom. It’s the little things, he notices; a cushion might be needed, a slight top of wine if you outpace your dining partner, a smooth transition to somewhere to finish your drinks. Very rarely do you leave a restaurant and return because of the most remarkable service – but Errol has this honour. Service like this in Sydney is rarely learned, his career has spanned the world and his quiet, humble and graceful manner is the highlight.
Onto the food. We start with a ‘trio of treasures’ honey glazed Pork Char siu, crispy roast duck pancake and octopus on a seaweed cracker is delicious but no match for lobster black truffle and mushroom spring rolls. Oh my goddess! It’s a life altering experience fresh, aromatic and deeply sensory. Next is Glacier 51 toothfish carved into perfect cubes doused in sweet soy with a garlic shallot topping. Yang Zhou fried rice is a delicate Cantonese mix of prawn with premium additions of Berkshire Pork and locally sourced asparagus. A line up of delicately sautéed queensland king prawns and scallops with Pomelo Yuzu Sauce rounds off our meal.
The wine list has surprising additions of locally sourced wines by the glass, something not often seen in fine dining which often leans towards more notable international brands. Seeing Nick O’Leary Riesling and Eden Road from Canberra alongside Philip Shaw No 17 from Orange demonstrates real pride about showcasing our incredible diversity of vineyards, which in this day of climate change, drinking more sustainably and showcasing our wines to the world has to be a thumbs up.
This is a hotel unlike anything in Australia. Luxury is not simply derived from what you see, feel and touch but more importantly how you feel. This feels like a weekend in an executive suite in Hong Kong or Singapore. By this, we mean that the level of training, experience and service is beyond what we have in Sydney. It’s the combined experience of hiring the best people in the world, into one of the most luxurious hotels in the world to deliver an exceptional experience with a price tag which is high but it delivers on the hype, the bling and the showiness. It has body, soul and we are coming back.