Expectations were high for our weekend in Sydney at this luxury, 5-star hotel. The Observatory regularly wins international travel awards and is listed as one of the best places to stay in Australasia.
On arrival, we were a little underwhelmed. The façade of the hotel is elegant but understated and, whilst the location is only a short walk to the harbour, the street feels a little out of the way.
However, as soon as you check-in, you understand why it has won so many awards. The small lobby was filled with polished, mahogany tables and extravagant flower arrangements. It exuded elegance and exclusivity. The staff seemed to be expertly trained and service throughout our stay was flawless. Within minutes you feel like the most important guest they have ever welcomed.
Flowers and tropical fruit were waiting for us in our room, and toiletries were available in the large, stylish bathroom. The rooms themselves are exceptional. The hotel has 78 deluxe rooms, 9 junior suites, 12 executive suites and the Observatory Suite. Our deluxe room was the largest room we had stayed in in Sydney. It had a separate sitting area and was beautifully decorated with antiques and luxurious fabrics. The style is English country house with a nod to Asia in some of its prints and decorative vases. It is old-fashioned in the best sense of the expression. Despite heavy curtains, rooms facing the street can be noisy at weekends, as pedestrians make their way home from a night out. Request a room at the back of the hotel if you are a light sleeper.
The Globe Bar and Brasserie and the formal, fine dining restaurant, Galileo, are situated off the lobby. The Bar and Brasserie looks like a London gentleman’s club with wood panelling, leather chairs and subdued lighting. Unlike some exclusive clubs though, the staff were welcoming and solo female travellers and families are made to feel equally at home. Galileo has won awards for its French cuisine, but we had a reservation at one of the many acclaimed restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. Walking back, the surrounding streets were dimly lit, which made us feel a little uneasy. A taxi is recommended if you are going to have a late night.
Breakfast was expensive and formal, but there was also a simple café at the end of the road, if you wish to save money.
Use these savings to treat yourself in the hotel’s day spa and health club. The day spa menu is extensive, but do call ahead of time if you want a treatment, as it gets booked out quickly. Hotel guests may use the basement health club free of charge and enjoy the 20-metre, heated, indoor swimming pool together with whirlpools, a sauna, steam room and fully-equipped gymnasium. The swimming pool is surrounded by marble, Roman columns and had a fresco of twinkling stars on its roof. It felt a world away from the busy city outside its front door and a welcome haven after a day’s walking and sight-seeing.
Staff a the concierge desk were superb and very attentive. Bottles of mineral water were offered on leaving the hotel on hot days and umbrellas pressed into hands during the rain.
The only thing the hotel lacks is a spectacular view. It is one of the few 5-star hotels in Sydney that does not have this but, if this doesn’t bother you, then the Observatory deserves its many accolades. We would have no hesitation in going back.
The hotel is located at 89-113 Kent Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.Write a Review
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