Australia’s biggest city of Sydney is arguably the beating heart of the national economy and home to a bevy of internationally recognised landmarks that sit front and centre in the country’s shop window to the world.
Along with the gleaming harbour itself, many people know the Harbour Bridge and famed Opera House from anywhere and the sight of this trio as you fly into Sydney is one of those welcomes few cities can offer.
But when the day’s activities are done, you want your private retreat to be somewhere ready to deliver exactly the kind of five-star comfort you need to wind down and prepare for what lies ahead tomorrow.
Some of the hotels to make our list are among the city’s newest and barely a year old. Others are staples of the city skyline and familiar even to people who haven’t visited in a while.
There are many worthy contenders for this list but the competition is red hot and with some new players in town, the proverbial elbows are out as hotels jostle for centre stage.
1. Four Seasons Sydney — expensive, but so worth it
Renovated in 2018, the style and sophistication on show at the only Four Seasons in Australia is evident across the hotel’s 531 rooms and suites.
Your standards will be supremely high if you’re not impressed with the expansive Full Harbour King Room, which sits in the building’s corner and projects great views out to Circular Quay.
Full Harbour View King rooms feature a corner sofa
If you’re staying in one of these, or the one and two-bedroom suites, access is granted to the exclusive Lounge 32 on its namesake floor. It’s a haven and perfect for meeting friends and family or enjoying the complimentary canapes and drinks, including international wines, served Friday and Saturday from 4-8pm.
From here, you can also partake in private check-in and out, daily breakfast and a regular roster of delicious cakes and pastries prepared by the hotel’s talented pastry chefs. Then, head up to what is Sydney’s best rooftop pool for a dip, which is heated in the winter. Seems appropriate for a hotel bearing the name Four Seasons.
Four Seasons’ rooftop pool is a gem on a nice day
On the ground floor, fine dining is really put into practice at Mode Kitchen and Bar, which is somewhat small so make sure you pre-book your table. The service is exquisite and on tap is some of Sydney’s best seafood including enormous king prawns and the wood-roasted catch of the day. Make sure you order a side of the polenta chips too.
2. Park Hyatt — can’t beat that view
Possibly the most enviable piece of real estate in Australia, many of Park Hyatt Sydney’s rooms admire the Opera House just across the harbour.
Park Hyatt Sydney enjoys postcard views at every turn
Park Hyatt Sydney is something of a deceptively large building, yet well laid out, wrapped around Campbells Cove. It’s impossible to go anywhere here without encountering a postcard view.
The Dining Room at Park Hyatt Sydney
There’s 155 spacious rooms and suites that start at 40 square metres and you can enjoy a rooftop pool, terrace and a stylish bar where you’ll want to be seen, but there’s no club lounge, in line with other Park Hyatts.
The entry level Cove Suite offers two balconies, while you can enjoy up to six with the Opera Suite. Most suites have separate sitting areas, while the Rooftop Suite delivers exactly that in the form of a private outdoor terrace.
One of Sydney’s most exclusive pools sits atop Park Hyatt
For a sense of true indulgence, the Sydney Suite is the Park Hyatt’s main event. At 350 square metres, full kitchen with dining for eight and a marble bath with sauna and spa, it’s one of the most expensive hotel rooms in Sydney but it’s worth it.
3. Crown Sydney — bold and breathtaking
Amid the complete reimagining of the Barangaroo corner of the city has come multiple new office towers and at one end, the gleaming Crown Sydney.
The luxury casino and entertainment giant has been a staple in Melbourne and Perth and for some time, has been agitating at Sydney’s door.
Crown Sydney is one of the city’s newest skyscrapers
But now, as part of the present-day Sydney typified by Barangaroo, Crown Sydney represents some of the finest examples of modern hospitality that can be found anywhere in the world.
Competing for the title of Sydney’s best view, Crown Sydney offers a mix of 350 hotel rooms and nearly 100 residential apartments across 75 floors. Across these you’ll find the Executive Harbour Bridge Suite which offers a dining room for four, separate bedroom and powder room.
Closer to ground level is an expansive infinity pool and spa with cabanas overlooking the western harbour. There’s also a tennis court which doubles as an event space, while the Crown Spa is the first in Australia to offer quartz hot sand and touchless spa wave treatments across its 11 rooms.
The infinity pool at Crown Sydney overlooks Darling Harbour
While every hotel offers dining, few can boast no less than eight individual restaurants which, albeit pricy, are tipped to deliver a memorable sensation for every tastebud. Headlining the dining offering is Sydney’s first Nobu which couples with the micro 12-seat Yoshii’s Omakase.
On top of that is the open-kitchen Woodcut Steakhouse, delicate Italian A’Mare, stylish Cantonese Silks, sustainable fare at Oncore by Clare Smyth, the Epicurean buffet or high tea at TWR.
4. Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park — scenic vistas
Luxury hotels in Sydney don’t have to hug the harbour to offer great views. Adjacent to another of the city’s natural attractions – the 16-hectare Hyde Park – is the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park.
Refurbished in 2019, the 558 rooms adopt a Hyde Park-esque colour palette with natural timber, stitched leather, dark celadon green walls and black marble bathrooms. Rooms feature high-backed executive chairs at the ergonomic desks which feature multiple USB charging points.
A King Executive Terrace Park guest room at Sheraton Grand Hyde Park
Suites are numerous and all overlook Hyde Park and St Mary’s Cathedral, with private balconies starting from the Corner Terrace Suite. The Ambassador Suite takes on a décor and look of its own with wallpaper resembling vintage suitcases and bright purple throw pillows.
This penthouse on the 20th floor is something to behold with a crystal chandelier that is sure to amaze any visitors.
The hotel’s Sheraton Club lounge is its statement piece, resembling a New York loft. Here, eligible guests can privately check in and out and enjoy daily breakfast or evening drinks and canapes.
The hotel’s Club Lounge is an excellent hideaway to relax or get some work done
To get work done, there are some office supplies like a printer, copier and even a fax machine. Remember those?
The flagship ‘Feast’ restaurant is your main go-to for breakfast outside of the Sheraton Club and is complemented by The Gallery, which serves afternoon tea and some savoury delicacies.
5. The Langham, Sydney — discrete elegance
Perched in the upper Rocks precinct and a short walk to Barangaroo, The Langham is an elegant world away, yet only a few steps, from centuries-old residential terraces which reflect what Sydney once was.
The Langham Sydney on Kent Street
While diminutive in room number at 96 compared to towering counterparts on this list, The Langham Sydney touts a rich exclusivity with views over a sometimes-forgotten part of the harbour.
At the top of the rooms list are The Observatory Suite and The Residence, both over 100 square metres and packed with extravagances including a stately fireplace and grand eight-seat dining room, or equipped kitchen with refrigerated private bar area.
The Residence at The Langham Sydney
While there’s no dedicated club lounge, you’ll feel like you’re in a private club at The Langham’s Romanesque 20-metre heated indoor swimming pool where you can float and disappear into the night sky mural on the ceiling.
It’s easy to get lost in the serene night sky mural at The Langham’s pool
When it’s time to dine, one of Sydney’s most fun restaurant experiences is in-house at Kitchens on Kent. Billed as fine-dining, buffet style, you can wander among a variety of live cooking stations watching expert chefs craft wares including towers of seafood and charcuterie.
6. Shangri-La Sydney — postcard views
Cross the Harbour Bridge in a southbound direction and the Shangri-La Sydney is impossible to miss. Another of the city’s skyscraping hotels at 36 levels, the Shangri-La boasts one of the best views in the city from many of its 564 rooms and suites.
A Premier Harbour Bridge Room at Shangri-La Sydney
The incredible Royal Suite delivers a separate bedroom, living room and dining room with grand piano, executive study and wide views of the harbour, Opera House and bridge.
On Level 35, the exclusive Horizon Club is an expansive space with high ceilings and a mixture of armchairs and sofas overlooking both Sydney Harbour and out to the west. There’s plenty of staff roaming who will keep your glass full and a changing table-service menu where you can enjoy breakfast, morning tea and afternoon tea.
You’ll find the Horizon Club on Level 35
Also on offer is the Shangri-La Sport Club and Health Centre, with an indoor heated 25-metre pool, fitness centre and shaded outdoor terrace.
Perhaps the highlight of your time at the Shangri-La is a dining experience at Altitude Restaurant.
Book in advance at Altitude and you may get a table at the window looking straight out
While even at night the view is spectacular, the new modern Australian menu from Executive Chef Brent Morley is a treat for the senses. In crafting the culinary line-up, Morley assessed the nation’s finest producers to source items such as grain-fed rib on the bone from Jack’s Creek, a multiple time winner of the World’s Best Steak Producer.
7. Hilton Sydney — one of Sydney’s stayers
The Hilton Sydney has seen the city change so much in its near-50 years, yet stands tall and proud as one of its most endearing luxury hotels. You’ll find it difficult to find a better location as one step outside the revolving doors puts you right in the centre of town.
Hilton Sydney is a staple of the mid-city
A $25 million refurbishment in 2021 across all 577 rooms saw the creation of the new Corner Room, while the Junior Suite includes an open bathroom with a deep-soaking tub and air jets.
The Master Suite bathroom at Hilton Sydney
Nightlife at Hilton Sydney is as timeless as the company’s 100-plus-year-old legacy, eternally exemplified by the timeless and heritage listed Marble Bar in the basement, originally built in 1893.
If you’d prefer to go higher, the Zeta Bar and rooftop terrace is all about putting a creative spin on traditional cocktail recipes and on a calm night is one of the best spots in Sydney.
To access Hilton’s Executive Club, you’ll need to book an Executive Room or higher.
Hilton’s Club Lounge offers plenty of space to work or chill out
The lounge itself feels like a grand living room, with a buffet station along the wall serving breakfast and a variety of sweet and savoury items throughout the day. There’s also the evening drinks and canape service from 6pm each evening.
8. Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour — tall and resplendent
A refurbishment is one thing but a newbuild is quite another, and the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is one of the city’s most prominent examples of what the state government has for many years called ‘Tomorrow’s Sydney’.
Just a few steps from the front door of the International Convention Centre, the hotel was essentially part of the redevelopment of this part of Darling Harbour and really gives the area that intoxicatingly fresh car smell.
As for location, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is steps from everything
The towering structure is emblematic of the élégante French Sofitel vibe. It’s another of the few Sydney CBD hotels with an outdoor rooftop pool but its beach club environment fits well overlooking the picturesque Darling Harbour (just ignore the giant carpark behind it).
The rooftop pool overlooks Darling Harbour and the city
The flagship room is the Prestige Suite, which sits in a top corner and really projects that executive apartment feel. It’s not the biggest suite in the building but still offers a separate living room.
Sofitel Darling Harbour’s Prestige Suite
There are quite a few room types which grant access to the Club Millésime lounge up on Level 35.
The Club Millésime lounge sits high on Level 35
Much like your room will have but on a grander scale, there are great views to bask in but the window seating will fill up quickly and that outlook really sells it.
9. A by Adina Sydney — fresh five-star stay
Another new player in the five-star game, there are only two A by Adina properties in Australia (the other is in Canberra). This hotel is all about self-contained luxury, or apartment style rooms.
Sydney’s first Sky Lobby sits at 2 Hunter Street
Sitting atop an inconspicuous CBD office block, A by Adina Sydney features the city’s first Sky Lobby, emblazoned with a giant gold staircase. Below is an indoor pool overlooking the concrete jungle outside.
Head up to Dean and Nancy on 22 for a drink after check-in
There’s no executive lounge or club, but the hotel does offer exclusive benefits for those booking its ‘Destination A’ One Bedroom King such as a daily box of snacks and a $25 credit per stay to spend on drinks or room service. Not quite a club lounge but it’s a start.
The pièce de resistance is the two-bedroom king, a palatial apartment on the top two floors. This room has a separate lounge and dining, full kitchen and laundry.
Or down to the fitness centre and indoor pool
You can also get rooms with a balcony if your craving is fresh air. But conversely, if you really want to shut yourself in for the night, there’s also a number of little-known internal studios with no windows at all – so when you turn out the lights, it’s about as dark as dark can get.
10 The Fullerton — history in a hotel
As far as history goes, The Fullerton Sydney is essentially built on top of a timeline of the city’s centre of communications in the old General Post Office. It makes for a perfect fit as the Singaporean hotel company’s flagship property is also built on another historic post office.
What was for many years beforehand known as Westin Sydney, the Fullerton moved in and set up its brand of contemporary luxury across the 416 rooms and suites, of which the majority sit within the tower behind the old GPO.
A team of stonemasons recently completed a major external makeover at The Fullerton Sydney
For real history buffs there are also 52 heritage suites boasting a very different and almost neoclassical décor. These are dressed with more traditional drawing curtains as opposed to automated one-button drapes in tower rooms.
As far as premium rooms go, there’s the 192sqm Heritage Long Suite in the old edifice, with its grand entrance hallway, six-person dining setting and two original, but non-functioning marble fireplaces. The Sydney Postmaster’s original desk from 1874 can also be found in this room.
The Heritage Long Suite at The Fullerton
Over in the tower, the Martin Place Suite features a separate business study, four-person dining table and kitchenette along with a shower that can convert into a private sauna.
The Martin Place Suite sits within Fullerton’s main hotel tower
And while there’s no dedicated club lounge, the hotel has the simply titled ‘The Bar’ on the ground floor and ‘The Place’ restaurant which caters to daily breakfast in a sweeping atrium overlooking the heritage GPO.
In line with its Singaporean roots, The Fullerton has adapted one of the Lion City’s most famous beverages into the ‘Sydney Sling’ which is available at The Bar, via room service or included in the rates (one per person per stay) for those in the Long Suite or Martin Place Suite.
We also rate the following Sydney luxury hotels as being highly commended – you won’t go wrong booking a stay in any of these:
- InterContinental Sydney
- Ovolo Woolloomooloo
- Pier One Sydney Harbour
- QT Sydney
- Larmont Sydney
- Hyatt Regency Sydney
- The Darling
- Sydney Harbour Marriott
- InterContinental Sydney Double Bay