W Hotel Sydney
W Hotel Sydney

Sydney swagger: How the Australian city’s new hotels are redefining luxury

03 May 2024 | |By Jack Phillips

Australia’s most famous city has rediscovered its mojo thanks to a slew of sophisticated new openings

When it comes to luxury travel, it’s fair to say that Sydney has been left wanting in recent years. Save for a handful of longstanding namesakes, like The Langham and Park Hyatt, there really hasn’t been much to shout about when it comes to noteworthy places to stay. Sydney fell by the wayside as other Aussie cities – Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide – were buoyed by foreign investment, striking new architecture and the high-spending travellers that were attracted by the buzz. 

In 2024, however, Sydney is set for a kick in the caboose with several new hotel openings worth shouting about. And about time. The city’s natural beauty, cultural richness and world-class bars and restaurants make it an attractive destination for those seeking the finer things in life. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney’s luxury travel sector has grown by 10 per cent since the pandemic and is now worth more than £1.3 billion a year. Growth has been attributed to both domestic and international travellers, drawn to a heady mix of the old and the new.

The city’s restaurants, such as Quay, Aria and Bennelong, have long garnered international acclaim, while bars such as Maybe Sammy, Baxter’s Inn, Cantina OK! and Re have more recently appeared on the lauded list of the World’s 50 Best Bars. A profile by Netflix’s Chef’s Table in 2020 saw the popularity of Firedoor Restaurant skyrocket, resulting in owner and chef Lennox Hastie opening a new Basque-inspired venue, Gildas, in 2022 – to much pomp and acclaim. With high-end Korean joints like Matkim and 12-seater Allta slated to open this year, alongside many more tasting experiences across the city, it’s no wonder that Sydney has swagger. 

And it’s not just food that’s catching up in Sydney. It seems the traditionally hesitant high-end sector is finally embracing cutting-edge technology. Restaurants and hotels are finding new ways to utilise tech to improve user experience without removing the personal touch. From contactless check-ins, to immersive virtual reality travel previews, to paperless receipts (why are paper receipts still a thing in 2024?), technology is redefining the way travellers encounter the city. 

W Hotel Sydney
W Hotel

The W Hotel, which opened at the tail end of 2023 at the cost of £520 million, encapsulates the city’s current renaissance. Situated in the heart of Darling Harbour, the five-star hotel beckons guests with a sleek yet classic charm. As you would expect from a W Hotel, the lobby is laden with contemporary art and was fully booked for almost three months following its opening.

The guest rooms at W Hotel are elegant, offering views of Darling Harbour. Each room is thoughtfully designed, featuring plush furnishings, neutral tones and techy amenities. The hotel’s culinary scene is worth staying in for, with the acclaimed Razor Restaurant serving a fusion of Australian and international flavours. The property is taking sustainability seriously, too, using linens partially made of recycled materials from Ekocycle, the environmental brand formed in 2012 by Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am and Coca-Cola.

For travellers seeking a quieter retreat, the much-anticipated Capella is a new gem nestled in the heart of Sydney’s historic district, The Rocks. Rooms at the latest opening from the Kwee brothers and Pontiac Land Group (Conrad Centennial Singapore and Capella Singapore) pitch themselves as works of art, designed with handpicked furnishings that nod to Sydney’s maritime past. The hotel’s standout feature is its lush private gardens, which provide an oasis of greenery amid the concrete sprawl. It’s refined, restrained and easily sets a new bar for luxury hotels in Sydney.

A stone’s throw away is Porter House, which finds its home in the heritage-listed Porter House building, and is reminiscent of a bygone era. The hotel combines old-world charm with modern amenities, making it a great choice for travellers seeking classic elegance without the Capella price tag. The rooms at Porter House are spacious and tastefully furnished, with an emphasis on preserving the historical integrity of the building. The dining options at the hotel are modern twists on classic fare, with the brasserie, Dixson & Sons, offering a delectable menu served by staff dressed in stylish, formal attire.

Although it opened back in 2022, Ace Hotel is still bringing a welcome vibrancy to the neighbourhood of Surry Hills. It’s a paradise for art aficionados and travellers who appreciate cutting-edge design. As those who have frequented the Ace Hotel London and New York can attest, there are cool-cat creative types aplenty, rooms are retro and Instagram-worthy, and the clientele rarely skews north of 50. Each guest room at the Ace Hotel is a canvas, with murals and custom furnishings. The hotel’s commitment to the local art scene is distinct and manages to bridge cool and classy; it runs an Artist in Residence program, with the artist in question rotating quarterly. You expect this is where the Rolling Stones would stay if they were to play Sydney.

Overlooking the picturesque harbour is the Kimpton Margot, which offers a breathtaking vista of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. This luxury hotel is a haven for travellers who desire not only opulence but awe-inspiring views. Kimpton Margot’s design ethos is a fusion of contemporary aesthetics and a connection to nature. 

The guest rooms at Kimpton Margot are meticulously designed, with a focus on natural materials and earthy colours. The hotel’s rooftop bar, Harbour Rooftop Bar, is the ideal spot to enjoy the city’s iconic sunsets, and the hotel’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its green initiatives and eco-friendly amenities.

As a London expat that’s lived in the city for more than a decade, it feels like Sydney is having something of a moment. If you’ve never visited before, 2024 is shaping up to be a good year in which to come and say ‘g’day’. 

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