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The Four Seasons Sydney has a location and style that encapsulates the city. Located in the heart of Circular Quay and overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Four Seasons has some of the best harbour view rooms in town which showcase the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and historical Rocks area. If you pick the right room, you get the see them all at the same time. It is also in a prime location for exploring Sydney with most major attractions a short stroll or ferry or tram ride away.

View from the Four Seasons Sydney
View from the Four Seasons Sydney

This five-star Sydney hotel has been the choice of many celebrities, dignitaries, and travellers with a healthy credit card for more than 39 years. It’s easy to see why when I enter my Full Harbour King Room and see the iconic symbols of Sydney laid out in front of me. This is a room that makes it tempting to cancel all of your appointments and reservations, just to curl up in the window and enjoy the view and delight in watching the bustling hub of Circular Quay.

It’s easy to think that the Four Seasons could just be all about the view, even while you’re drooling over the glossy website that promises world class style and service and a superb location. Sometimes iconic hotels don’t live up to the hype. However, pulling up at the porte cochere sees any possible expectations of subpar service evaporate. A team of staff open the door of my car while offering charming greetings and whisk my luggage to the hotel doors in minutes before directing me to reception. Covid practices are still in place so there is a brief stop to register details and sanitise hands before proceeding to the reservations desk.

Four Seasons Sydney lobby
Four Seasons Sydney lobby

The Four Seasons foyer greets guests with stylish modern décor, a grand staircase and a light-filled atrium. This is an area that radiates the 5-star vibe and entices you to enter and stay a while. The modern look of the hotel and all the facilities is thanks to a multi-million-dollar refurbishment which was started in 2018 and completed in 2020.

Arriving at reception, the delightful staff have my room keys in hand within a few minutes and informed about the hotels many facilities. The Four Seasons has 498 guest rooms and 33 suites, a pool, gym, multiple dining/bar options, plus a club lounge located on level 32 of the hotel. The club lounge is interesting at the Four Seasons as it does not face the highlights of Sydney Harbour and instead faces Barangaroo and the western side of the city.

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Full Harbour View Room at the Four Seasons Sydney
Full Harbour View Room at the Four Seasons Sydney

My room category gives me access to the club lounge and all the lovely benefits it entails such as private check-in and check-out, a hot buffet breakfast, all day refreshments, and canapes and an open bar with an impressive selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks each evening. The selection of wines by the glass is impressive and a cut about the usual club lounge offering. There is also a dedicated concierge, valet pressing of one garment, access to a private meeting room and finally the all-important Wi-Fi. It’s worth noting that you can pay to have club lounge access and considering the inclusions and service it’s something I can very much recommend. At the time of writing, the club lounge was only open on Friday and Saturday nights but this will no doubt change as travel starts to pick up.

I stayed at this hotel many years ago and it’s impossible not to notice the dramatic change in style and feel that the multimillion-dollar refurbishment has had. Light and bright decor has replaced wood panelling and gold trim to great effect. But it is the room decor that has the biggest impact on the remodelling with a contemporary design and colours that complement the stunning views perfectly. There are also loads of (easy to use) switches that give you control of the room electronics from your bedside, letting you adjust lighting, blinds and importantly the Do Not Disturb sign. Other nice touches are a Bose bluetooth speaker, Nescafe coffee pod machine and in room iPad that lets you order room service and schedule house keeping with the touch of a button.

Mode Kitchen and Bar
The 1920s Parisian styled Mode Kitchen and Bar

Dining and bar options are catered for at the 1920s Parisian styled Mode Kitchen and Bar and the very stylish Grain Bar located adjacent to reception. Again, the remodelling magicians have gone full tilt with plenty of class and detail. Where Mode restaurant transports you to a 1920s Parisian café, Grain Bar has you in a high-end New York drinking spot resplendent in marble and wood finishes. The big plus with both these venues is the calibre of food and drink with Mode brandishing multiple awards for dining and Grain Bar headed by award winning head bartender Adam Lau.

With breakfast included in my stay I have multiple options at either the club lounge for a la carte or Mode for a buffet style breakfast.  I will say both are very good and come with unlimited coffee with varying degrees in quality. If you’re a coffee aficionado like me, Mode should be your first choice. Some more options on the dining front include the Four Seasons Signature High Tea and a very tempting degustation menu on offer at Mode. The degustation is tempting but after experiencing the high tea that afternoon, I opt for a smaller a la carte dinner at Mode and I am not disappointed. The beautifully barbequed king prawns are a must try as is the stunning eye fillet steak. I just have room for Mode’s signature dessert, a show stopping frozen pavlova that is as spectacular as it is delicious.

Mode’s signature dessert, a show stopping frozen pavlova
Mode’s signature dessert, a show stopping frozen pavlova

Housekeeping is way too thorough in their attention to detail so trying to hide out in the room for one more night is not an option. Fortunately, I do get a late cheek out so I am able to enjoy lunch by the window to savour the view for as long as possible. Reflecting on my level of enjoyment with this stay, the Four Seasons Sydney is a strong 4.5+ out of 5 stars. My only criticisms would be the coffee quality in the club lounge and not having the option of High Tea delivered to the room which I think is a missed opportunity here. Whether you are a local in search of a luxurious staycation or visiting Sydney from further afield, this beautiful hotel is well worth the spend. Even if your credit card does have a little whimper you won’t be sorry you splurged on a stay at the Four Seasons Sydney. 

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of the Four Seasons Sydney and would not hesitate to return to this hotel at his own expense.

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Trevor Templeman is a photographer and writer who travels the world capturing the essence of locations through their landscape, architecture and people. His words and photographs are published in magazines, newspapers and online around the world.