It takes more than height for a building to stand tall. One hundred years ago the finger wharves were bustling with woodsheds processing loads from the ships, the nearby drinking establishments awash with workers and perched on a hill overlooking Sydney life was The Palisades. Designed by the dapper Irish Architect Henry Deane it was the heart of the community.
Since its opening in 1915 it’s seen action both in and outside its walls, but its reopening in 2015 was perhaps The Palisade’s finest hour with first the ground floor pub, then the glam rooftop bar Henry Deane opening, and finally the old brothel rooms transformed into a nautical contemporary boutique hotel.
Sydneysiders have fallen in love with its good looks, charm and drop dead gorgeous views, but now that Barangaroo is starting to sprout life, it’s a great little spot for a staycation. So what can you expect?
There are lots of unconventional things about a stay here, first check-in. There isn’t one – squeezing your bags into a lift with two slightly drunk, but glamorous Swedish ladies and a chap with three silver life-size helium balloons (oh oh seven) is a memorable experience. It’s the start of things to come. Don’t book in on a Friday or Saturday night unless you want to party and welcome a bit of the unexpected. Ground floor is both pub and reception (we know as we had to travel back down the lift with the 007 guy). At this point you may feel like tapping the button on the wall that says ‘press for champagne’ but we are warmly welcomed, and soon ensconced into our William Bennett suite. Cue bliss.
It’s nautical, sumptuous and romantic. The queen bed has a cascading criss cross muslin net dropping down from high ceilings with a backdrop dramatic mural of stormy seas and melancholy cloudy skies. The bed head is reminiscent of a grand sofa with its brass studs and wrap around wings. A small table contains an old school swing dial telephone. The main area then opens up into a lounge with grey sofas, navy scatter cushions, serious design books and a deliriously soft blankie rug you will want to stow away into your luggage. The sash windows are adorned by striped navy and white roman blinds and the bar area showcases a stylish black fridge, mini bar with a small corridor that leads you to a bathroom of black and white chevron floor tiles and divine Elemis products – it’s a loo with a view. One of the best things about this suite is the balcony. Open the doors and the Harbour Bridge, the city, Barangaroo – it’s all yours, all from the comfort of a two seater sofa. Add a few chairs, a bottle of wine, why move?
You might not until the next morning, though unless you have earplugs or noise cancelling headphones you will understand that in the light of day…a lot of craziness happened last night! There is something wonderful emerging from a night spot at the weekend, the sun is shining, the joggers are out and you have the whole place to yourself. And what’s that? Silence! Let yourself out the front door and explore a variety of water-fronted spots for breakfast, stroll around Barangaroo as the morning light warms the waterfront and the gardens. Early morning is a perfect time to reconnect with an emerging part of our city you haven’t yet met, and stretch your legs.
By midday you have read the papers, coffee table books, and are ready for lunch! The pub downstairs opens at midday and whilst many hotels will have you out the door and on your way we recommend you stay for lunch. If you are lucky the fish pie might be the special; generous chunks of cod and prawns in a puff pastry shell. House made arancini are divine. Don’t miss the honey glaze ham off the bone sanga with baby cos, it’s a glorious retro sandwich which will have you wishing that perhaps you were once a wharfie, just checking into the pub for a cold one.
Sitting in the main bar, with a great beer, good food and views, this is one weekender that transcends time and history. It’s both the past, the present and we have a feeling will be one to enjoy in the future.