Sydney is a city that fizzes with the energy of its visitors. Whether for business or fun, it’s always attracted a diverse mix of people from all over the world – which makes perfect sense, given the weather, food, beaches and culture.
What didn’t make sense, for a very long time, was the accommodation on offer to those visitors. To put it politely, for a major international hub, it did not measure up.
Happily, those days are long gone. Trailblazers such as The Old Clare Hotel, Paramount House Hotel and QT deserve an honourable mention for their earlier work, which laid the groundwork for the explosion we’ve witnessed post-pandemic. Because, finally, Sydney has the hotel scene it deserves.
Just as enticing whether you’re a blow-in or a local booking in for a staycation, here are the seven best new hotels in Sydney.
Ace Hotel Sydney
Ace Hotel Sydney
The US brand’s first southern-hemisphere outpost, Ace Hotel Sydney toes the party line in engaging a younger, creative crowd thanks to its warehouse flavour and hip design touches. There was plenty to work with, given the site’s colourful resumé, running the gamut from brickworks to dispensing chemist, garment factory to school for underprivileged kids.
For its latest evolution, the building has been extended out and up, including eight new floors topped by Mitch Orr’s award-winning restaurant, Kiln (a low-key nod in the direction of those 19th century bricks).
Rooms are steeped in the earthy colour palette of the Australian landscape, though the overall mood is more urban than outback. Concrete, aged brass, oak and steel set the scene for a mix of vintage and bespoke furniture, in rooms that range from cosy quarters perfect for one, to spacious suites complete with city-view terrace, vinyl collection and acoustic guitar.
Keep your eyes peeled for art – everywhere – including corridor graffiti by Jason Phu. No question, this is one of the coolest hotels in Sydney.
The Porter House Hotel – MGallery
Integrating two chronologically diverse buildings – one from 1876 and the other brand-new – is no mean feat, but The Porter House Hotel has achieved it with finesse. From the moment you step into the soaring entrance way that sits bang in the middle of the two, there’s a sense of bridging time.
The Porter House Hotel Sydney
Glimpses of the address’s various incarnations – including tobacco factory and leather merchant – are peppered throughout, from tools and cigarette cases to children’s shoes, all unearthed on site. Skylights add some contemporary brightness, the better to show off historical features such as pressed tin ceilings and exposed bricks, beams and pillars – which provide a moody backdrop to Spice Trader, the cocktail bar, as well as the restaurant Dixson & Sons.
Next door, its neighbour’s modern curves echo the arched windows of the original structure, while the interiors are super-luxe with a polished industrial twist. Raw concrete walls demand to be touched, as do the wardrobe doors and headboards, which, in another nod to the original building’s past, are lined with rich leather. The fitness centre and outdoor pool round out the mod-cons nicely.
The lobby at the Kimpton Margot, Sydney.
Like an unexpectedly fancy gift wrapped in brown paper and string, the Kimpton Margot’s low-key facade plays it very cool about the glamour within.
Hailing from the 1930s, the building’s original features provided an excellent springboard for the art deco theme the designers have run with. Mid-century curves and geometric shapes abound, along with stylised oversized photography and statement shelves full of objets-d’art.
All rooms feature yoga mats, pets are welcome and there’s a nightly wine-tasting soiree for guests keen to mingle – ideal for solo travellers. Renowned chef Luke Mangan oversees the cooktops, and the pool at the Harper Rooftop Bar looks set to be the place to be seen this summer for guests and Sydneysiders alike.
Grown-up elegance is the mood at Capella Sydney, which opened its CBD doors in March 2023. The heritage sandstone building, constructed in the 1900s for the Department of Education, was painstakingly restored and renovated over seven years before its unveiling. The resultant mix of soothingly muted tones is reminiscent of a Vermeer masterpiece.
Rooms revolve around a neutral palette, enriched with the natural textures of linen, stone and marble. Free Standing bath tubs are a highlight.
The Liberty Suite at Capella Sydney
Brasserie 1930 – the hotel’s french-themed main restaurant – is a collaboration with the experts behind Monopole and Bentley, which virtually guarantees success. Meanwhile, the Auriga Spa has recently extended its understated luxury (and 20m indoor pool) to the public as well as guests.
The Wet Deck at W Sydney.
Housed within an elliptical piece of architecture known as The Ribbon, which spent several years rising dramatically from Darling Harbour, the W Sydney’s progress has been a fascinating watch. By the time it opened in October 2023, anticipation was high, and thankfully the reality hasn’t disappointed.
Colourful, graphic interiors and unapologetic views add up to quite the show pony – not least the futuristic Away Spa, which wouldn’t look out of place on board a spaceship. Crowning it all is the Wet Deck on level 29. With its 30m infinity pool, and panoramic outlook, it’s a spectacular place to enjoy a dip and a cocktail.
A guest room at Oxford House
Taking its style cues from old-school Palm Beach motels, Oxford House in the chic inner-city suburb of Paddington exudes easygoing charm. Sunlight bathes the pared-back decor’s natural materials, bringing a refreshing breeziness to the boutique hotel’s indoor spaces. It’s a theme that continues outside, most obviously at the level three cocktail bar, with its Insta-famous pool.
Close enough to explore the city on foot, while also en route to the beaches of the Eastern Suburbs, this is a fantastic location for anyone keen to immerse themselves in a real – albeit exclusive – Sydney neighbourhood.
Manly Pacific – MGallery
The Infinity Residence at the Manly Pacific Hotel
When international tourists decide to hit a Sydney beach, it’s almost certainly a choice between the two heavyweights: Bondi and Manly. Both are superb; destinations in their own right, while also complementing the city. Still, the $30 million, two-year transformation of the Manly Pacific Hotel at the tail end of 2022 definitely swayed a few people.
Around since the 1970s, the building prior to this makeover had not aged gracefully, but that’s all in the past. The new look by Coco Republic is casual, coastal and luxurious, with an emphasis on its oceanside location. Rooms are bright and airy with pale timber, marble and tiles, garnished by vases of fresh native foliage.
The new rooftop pool overlooking the Pacific is a showstopper, while the ground floor is a very chilled place to lounge, its latticed screens adding areas of interest to the space, without interrupting the sense of flow. It even smells great, thanks to the new signature fragrance that drifts through the hotel, conjured from local Australian botanicals.