Sydney has long been on our bucket list, and three days was not enough. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that we were hosted by Holiday Inn Old Sydney, right downtown, so we didn’t waste any time on transportation and logistics and were able to dive right in to enjoying the sites.
I really can’t imagine a better location:
Right in the center of The Rocks, the historic district of Sydney that dates back to the early colonial era of the area. In the daytime, this is the district full of galleries and museums, right on the wharf within a few steps of the Circle Quay train station and ferry docks. At night, the gas streetlights are lit and the neighbourhood comes alive with restaurants and pubs, live music and coffee shops for the evening crowd. As this was our first visit to Sydney, we were clueless about where to stay or which district we wanted to be in. I have to say, the travel gods were smiling on us because this is exactly where we wanted to stay, and it’s exactly where we’ll stay again, should be find ourselves back in Sydney.
The Rocks is a fantastic place to stay! We were able to walk to everything, including The Rocks Discovery Museum, The BridgeClimb, wonderful dinners with friends, the Opera House & the Contemporary Art Museum (all of which I’ll write about soon!) They provided us with copies of A Walk in Old Sydney by Charles Wooley and Maichale Tatlow, which are a gold mine of historical, cultural and destination based information for walkers (which we are!) The Holiday Inn Old Sydney is right in the thick of all of the good stuff, and from our rooms on the fifth floor, we had an unobstructed, postcard view of the Opera House. For me, that was the icing on the cake.
A brief analysis of the accommodations:
- Everything (and I do mean everything) was very clean
- The beds were comfortable (I slept, which I often do not in hotels)
- The staff was, across the board, courteous and helpful
- The location could not be better
- The hotel lobby is a lovely, peaceful place to sit and read or work
- The wifi was fast (after six months in New Zealand, this was refreshing!)
The kids’ favourite part of the stay was breakfast! When they say a “full” breakfast is included, they aren’t kidding! Everything from a meat and eggs bar (including American style “streaky bacon!”) to pastries, fresh fruit, a range of hot and cold drinks, a “made to order” chef who whips out eggs to your specifications or four plates of pancakes for a hungry teenage boy. My favourite part? The juicer. Yep. A proper juicer: Carrot, apple, ginger and pineapple. Yum. Kids under 12 eat free with an adult.
Glen, the operations manager made it his business to get to know us. Partly because I’m reviewing the hotel, I’m sure, but I made it my business to watch this guy. I saw him bending over backwards for every single guest he encountered, wiping tables with the bus boys in the breakfast room, carrying plates of dirty dishes in his suit jacket, and smiling as he chatted with the cleaning ladies. We encounter a lot of service managers in our travels, I’ve never seen a guy as knee deep in his job as this guy. It explained a lot about why the staff was operating at the high level they were.
Example: The hotel has two coin operated washers and driers (at two bucks a load, they are CHEAP compared to laundromats!) With six of us, and only backpacks, I was found weaving down the fourth floor hallway peering out between two big bags of dirty clothes. One of the cleaning ladies not only offered to carry my clothes, she practically begged me to let her help (being me, I didn’t!) so instead, she followed me and made sure I found the room easily! Oh, and washing powder is provided, free of charge.
So what was “wrong” with this place?
Very little, as you’ll see from the petty quality of my “complaint,” which isn’t, really:
The first morning I was excited to get up and watch the sunrise. The pool and hot tub are on the roof, overlooking Sydney Harbour, and so it seemed a great idea to me to suit up and watch the sunrise, mid-winter, from the spa tub. The sunrise was spectacular. The hot tub was cold. I stood as long as I could stand in my bare feet and bathrobe before giving up and racing back down to our room and changing to warm clothes and racing back up, lest I miss the best part. It was spectacular. So good, in fact, that I made it a point to watch the sun rise over the opera house every morning we were there.
- Ask for a room on the fifth floor or above, on the harbour side, for the best view
- Definitely watch a sunrise from the roof
- Eat the breakfast
- Laundry is on the 4th floor
- Ask for recommendations in the area, they have good ones!