Happy Birthday Swissotel! You are no longer a teenager. But then, what’s age or a number anyway? The last time we stayed was over 4 years ago. Since then I have been into the lobby and seen the hotel in varying states of dress (and undress). Like any teenager you have to go through some ugly phases to come out all shiny and new.
The arrival – Reception & Lobby
On a busy Friday afternoon Market street is bustling. I wheel my case through the hotels doorway, nod to the doorman and pre’ss ‘8’ for reception. It feels strange going up to reception but part of Swissotels appeal is your superior owl-like perch overlooking the busy shopping streets below.
The ground floor has been completely transformed. Firstly, the reception desks greet us immediately (previously they were way towards the back of the area) The enormous, often cavernous lobby, has been transformed and opened up into a light filled lounge and bar area. Ceilings go skyward and skylights flood the space with sunshine all of which acts as a sanctuary above the city.
Arches on Market
At the centre of all this grandeur is ‘Arches on Market. Gone are the heavy walled seating areas. It’s been transformed into a raised circular platform complete with pretty arched black railings creating a garden like atmosphere. Comfy lounge chairs and banquettes in teal and emerald green complete the look. The focal point is the arched backdrop to a beautiful long bar. Huge open arches reach skyward, connecting the executive lounge VIPs who can look down into the bar below as mixologists shake up cocktails. It’s now got a vibrancy and energy to its 20 year old youthful good looks.
Executive Floor 23 – Executive King Room 2316
Corridors are not always the prettiest things, but with artwork on the walls, dark grey doors with white trim, and deep pile carpets it all feels warm and welcoming even before we get inside the room.
With a quick swipe of our card we are in. A short corridor leads us to a classic styled bathroom which with a single vanity unit, full size bath, mini cream and black tiles along with a seperate rain shower. Purovel toiletries are the house brand – they are infused with essential oils found in flowers and trees from a Swiss alpine. I am not quite transformed into Heidi-like plaits and white socks, but it’s a good start.
The main bedroom has a large king bed, a sexy leather lounger and a good size desk – handy as I have to finish off some work. It’s a decent sized room made more welcoming by the soft curves of the fittings. The mini bar includes the normal suspects of Boags beer, wine, and of course no self respecting mini bar would be without Kettle crisps, Nobbys Nuts and a De’Longhi coffee machine. A lovely touch is a welcome chocolate platter.
I can’t get the temperature above 22 degrees and call down to reception. Like a fairy godmother, ‘KC’ arrives within a minute – it’s the fastest call to rescue experience I’ve had in a hotel. He flashes a laser at the vent, tests the temperature and fixes the issue as we chat about him loving this hotel after seven years of continuous service. Then, poof! He’s gone!
The Pool and Gym
It’s late afternoon and I head downstairs to the rooftop pool. It’s packed with children playing in the pool so I admit defeat, grab a lounger as all of the cabanas have been taken and catch up on a few rays. I can see a few guests working out in the gym next door as one guy is clearly doing a ‘power zone’ Peloton class given the look on his face!
The Executive Lounge
I admit it. I do love an exec lounge. Working from your room can feel a bit lonely, but this is an all together more inspirational spot to hang out in whether you choose to be overlooking the city skyline or from my seat by one of the arches. It’s 6pm and there isn’t a spare seat in the house. Perhaps not surprising for a Friday night. On offer tonight are deep fried zucchini flowers along with ham and mushroom croquettes that take me back to the 80’s. They are both delicious. An array of cheeses, cold meats and dips ensure that a glass of Debortoli Legacy Brut always has company. Oversize fridges house a range of soft drinks and mineral water.
Dinner at Ten Stories Restaurant
It might not be immediately obvious (though the emblem of a bee might be a giveaway), that there is a ‘hive’ of activity on the rooftop of the hotel. Swissotel has partnered with Sydney Bee Rescue, a team dedicated to the rescue and relocation of bee colonies from places where they are at risk. On the rooftop are four beehives, with bees servicing the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens. The menu integrates honey and pollen throughout the menu. We share mains of Blue Eye cod sitting on top of a plinth of daikon with a lobster bisque and Cloudy Bay clams. The Trofie pasta is nicely al dente tossed with rocket pesto and juicy king prawns. A 2022 Featherston Chardonnay is too mineral forward for my taste which is craving rich, rounded and toasty flavours. I love a sommelier who says “Hang on…it’s not on the list but I might have something for you…” He returns with a cracker, Atle Chardonnay from Orange which has wonderful peach fruit characteristics.
We retire upstairs to the lounge for a final glass of red wine before we hit the sack.
Swissotel may have two decades behind it but it has many more ahead. It’s perfectly situated for retail therapy. The hotel has been built solidly – these are some of the quietest rooms I have found, no noise from the corridor or rooms either side, even things like water the systems which often wake you up when next door or above you showers. Zilch. Bliss.
What we are addicted to – Love how the rooftop has been used for Beehives, the new lobby is refreshing and welcoming as is the pool – oh and the gym has Pelotons!
What we need to be more addicted? – The design is very classic, the rooms traditional. There are no real surprises. The minibar could be a bit more exciting and it would have been nice to have seen bath salts or some kind of bath experience amenities.
Swissotel Sydney, 68 Market Street, Sydney
20th Birthday Celebration packages can be found here