Hotel Review: Kimpton Margot Sydney – Art deco decadent stay, brunch with French Champagne and Luke Manghan does it again!

We first stayed here a number of years ago when it was the Primus Hotel. The old Sydney Metropolitan Water Sewage and Drainage HQ had been transformed into a hotel. It was a majestic transformation and a reminder of how heritage buildings can transcend generations. However, it never really found its way into Australian hearts and it’s ownership changed from Greenland Australia to Pro-invest Group in early 2021. 

Fortunately for us, the legendary boutique hotel group Kimpton (now part of the IHG Hotels), took it on. Kimpton first started in San Francisco by Bill Kimpton whose vision was to create a place that felt more like a beautiful, livable and stylish home than a big, impersonal hotel. In short, they have created a brand as famed for being stylish, as for their transformations of heritage buildings. It’s about how you feel when you are there. This is the first Kimpton in Australia and it is for us a very big deal!!

The Arrival
Like meeting an old flame after a number of years, my heart is beating with excitement. With a broken foot, my entrance on crutches (with a small overnight bag) is more lumbering than graceful. I am picked up by the radar of the concierge who almost has me in his arms from the moment I enter the lobby. I am relieved of my bags and like a fairy godmother the magic swipe key to suite 308 is in my paws.

Now speaking of paws, this must be one of the most dog friendly hotels in Australia. If your pooch fits in a lift it goes up to your room – this lift would fit a shetland pony and a great dane! Thanks to a paw-tnership with Pet Barn every doggie gets their own bed, bowls and a nook set up for them in the room. Now, I did consider bringing Maggie, our rescue greyhound but with an action packed 24hrs she would have mostly been in her room so we left her at home. We are hoping to return for a Doggie review so stay tuned! I am joined in this review by Mr G, my partner. 

The Room – Corner Suite 318

Lounge Area of the Corner Suite 318

You can tell a lot from details like a carpet as I sink into the plush dark and gold floor pile in the corridor, it’s so lush. We are in a corner suite. Set around the curve of the building, we enter into the main lounge first, with a small bathroom to the side. It feels more like an apartment with a massive 74sqm space. Two 2-seater sofas hug the room (which could easily take a three seater for extra comfort). There is a TV here, and in the bedroom. I always pay attention to a mini bar selection. Like bread in a restaurant, it tells you a lot. Ours is packed with out of the ordinary goodies such as Adora Milk Chocolate Rough, smoked tomato Chappy Kettle Potato Chips, Whisk & Pin pistachio and cranberry handcrafted biscuits. Diving into the mini bar there is a range of craft beers and Penfolds mini bottles – yup! This is wonderfully dangerous living.  

The main bedroom is through a door. Hurrah! I am praising the designers for their insights on human interaction, so often couples sleep or get up at different times and it’s great to both be in your happy place, where one can sleep and the other watch movies! The high ceilings give a sense of grandeur with retro touches from burnished gold lights and  dark wooden wall panels which ooze warm masculinity.

Bedroom – A huge king size bed almost looks teeny given the size of the room. If Britain wanted to change their PM again, you could fit a caucus in here. A tablet sitting on the curved office table section of the room is our guide to the hotel and butler if we need it (we don’t).

Now let’s talk sleep – overlapping black out curtains are a dream to shut, the bed is firm, none of this saggy roll inwards nonsense and the pillows are a range of firm and soft. The door to the lounge means that any corridor noise is also shut off. It’s so quiet. ZZzzzzz. 

Bathroom – It’s stylishly retro with white subway tiles, black tapware and a deliciously big bath, which I start running immediately. Please note that it will take 30 mins at an agonisingly slow fill rate,  so pour yourself a glass of wine in readiness.  A bath this decadent is a welcome sight as many rooms are opting for showers only. Mr Smith Toiletries are a stylish and unique addition for an Australian hotel. Alas, no interesting salts, or goodies to grace a bath that really should be honoured with beautiful scents. Kudos to see a nod to sustainability with full size shampoo, conditioner and body lotion in the shower. Smell good, feel good and your conscience feels good.

The Lobby and Social hour

Mezzanine Level

Kimpton first started it’s social hour as a pathway to demonstrate old world hospitality with the GM meeting and greeting everyone. Every Kimpton around the world today has a ‘wine hour’. Tonight’s soiree is held at the Mezzanine level which looks over the glamorous lobby. A golden cocktail cart has a handsome array of wines (wot no beers?). We meet Adam, the head of sales and also chat to the staff who are glowing about how proud they feel to work here. It’s heartwarming to learn that they are encouraged to be themselves, crazy nail colour, tattoos, blue hair – it’s all welcomed. How wonderful this brand authentically allows their employees to be themselves, the happiness is infectious. 

We have a spectacularly connected bunch. Me, with my moonboot, a couple whose husband has suffered a stroke with an impressive motorised wheelchair (yes, I am jealous of those wheels) and a couple from WA who are here for a wedding who just so happen to be stroke victim physios. What are the chances? We will walk away with memories of that hour and recommendations of places to eat in the Margaret River! 

The  Lobby
It’s the heartbeat of the stay with complimentary teas on a cart every morning. It’s hard not to mouth like a koi carp in the Sydney Chinese Gardens. The scale, light and beauty is breathtaking. Scagliola (a centuries-old technique for creating ornamental stonework) columns reach to the heavens as skylights bring the outside in. Every Kimpton has its angle, this hotel feels more welcoming, more feminine “Margot” was chosen as a tribute to “artistic women of influence” who defined the 1930’s design scene. The art is beautifully curated across the hotel, it’s like staying in an art gallery with over 600 pieces of art, including paintings, prints, sculptures and artefacts which highlight the geometric shapes inherent in the Art Deco and Bauhaus art movements. This once cavernous space is now an intimate collection of spaces to hang out in. Choose to sit under a snowbell-like lighting installation which grows from the base of its majestic columns of the lobby or opt for lush velvet sofas, loving chairs,  or a chaise lounge. Each area has its own charismatic offering. We didnt get a chance to grab one of the complementary Lekker bikes in the lobby, which are and would be such a fun way to motor around the parks. 

Rooftop Pool  & Gym

This area hasn’t yet been ‘Kimpified’. The beautiful pool is there to use, but alas Sydney planning permission is slow and painful. It’s a promise of things to come. The gym however is magnificent. Not many hotels attribute as much space or invest in good equipment. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw (aka Sex In The City) “Hello Luvva” – there is a Peloton!!

Dining Experiences

Wilmot Bar

Choose your own adventure. Each space has its own personality and vibe. The Pantry at Margos has just been taken over  by a collaboration with Moulin Rouge. Fancy a confit duck toasty at 9.45pm? No problomo. We didn’t try anything out, but next time! The 1930’s style Wilmot Bar shines like a beacon of glowing happiness at night and is situated at the end of the lobby.

The main event though is Luke’s Kitchen

The Kitchen where the magic happens…

Luke’s Kitchen – Luke Manghan needs no intro, but it’s good to see him stretch his wings with this new venture (no airline pun intended). It’s an elegant space, connected to the main lobby floor by dark railings that stretch upwards creating intimacy of dining without losing the grandeur of the Kimpton. Equally the buzz of happiness can be heard as you enter the lobby. It’s a vibe. 

Frank Sinatra is crooning “Let there be love’’ and there is a lot to love here. I love that the seating is so comfortable as we squish into dark green bucket leather seats. I love the lighting – the centrepiece is a majestic light installation of concentric circles. It’s 7pm and six chefs are hard at work tonight, moving around the open kitchen like a graceful ballet.

I love the food: We order our starters of  garlic bread. Now this is no ordinary bready beast, it’s the love child of a brioche-croissant affair, oven baked with lashings of smashed garlic, curry butter and melted Swiss gruyere cheese. Oh my! I don’t remember much other than it being awesome and gone in a nano second.

The prawn toast is equally decadent. It doesn’t even need the top hat of corn salsa with chipotle aioli ($18). We get more grown up with mains of poached coral trout with truffle, warm cucumber, asparagus, leeks, shimeji mushrooms creating an elegant dish ($44), forks at the ready for pan fried gnocchi, it’s a refreshing retake on a favourite, tossed with asparagus spears, corn, zucchini, parmesan. The verjuice dressing gives it a nice zing. With a good wine list by the glass and impressive bottle range there is something for everyone. We retire to our room very happily! ZZZZzzzzzz

Saturdays at Luke’s Kitchen is a party.  It is all about the bubbles, food, live music and people. 

Cocktail cart

By midday the lobby is pumping, A 50th celebration is happening behind us and a wedding reunion is in full swing. We are escorted to our seats and within 30 mins, there isn’t a spare table in the house. $95 gets you five courses and bottomless bubbles. We upgrade to Veuve Clicquot ($185). We look left and right and others are upgrading to the cocktail package ($125) with Bloody Marys, Margot’s Myrtle Iced Tea Mojito’s. 

Our experience starts with one of my favourite dishes; Peking Duck broth. This is a life affirming, soul lifting teacup of goodness. The shiitake mushroom gives it umaniness, then the coriander and spring onion lift the aromatics. I instantly feel happier, healthier. 

Next up is a delicate rice paper roll, resting on a ceviche of locally sourced coral trout. The third course feels more brunchy, but with a twist. A poached egg is drooling with a spoonful of hollandaise sauce, sitting on a slow cooked tomato chutney that tastes like rhubarb and accompanied by a crispy thin potato rosti base. So good. Beef rendang pasta takes us all over the globe from Indonesia (Rendang), Italy (pasta & ricotta) and Vietnam (mint). It curiously all comes together in a blaze of flavours that could have Scillian nonna’s fainting at messing with tradition…but not us. The lemon meringue pie rounds it out – deconstructed with rhubarb and almonds, its light, balanced and a wonderful ending to great service and never ending top ups. 

The Verdict
What we are addicted to: Kimpton has created warmth and hospitality in a space of granduer and homage to art. We loved the social hours, getting to know our fellow guests and the attention to service through our stay. Thumbs up for free bikes and morning tea too.

What could get us more addicted?: We are looking forward to seeing the Kimpification of the rooftop! Styling the lounge area of the suite as it feels a little sparce. This could easily take a larger sofa and maybe sexy lounge chair for reading?

Kimpton Margot Sydney, 339 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000
Lukes Kitchen – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bottomless Brunch – Saturdays only 11.30-2.30pm from $95

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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