They say you should never ask a woman her age but when they’re glamorous and stylish and you know they’re much older than they look, it’s impossible to hold back on the compliments. The same could be said about the Hilton Sydney. It’s hard to believe this hotel was built in the 70s, back when architects loved brutalist architecture and lots of concrete. After an extensive rebuild in 2005 and a recent room upgrade program, today the Hilton Sydney is a triumph of modern style with flowing public spaces and one of Sydney’s best restaurants. It’s also home to Marble Bar, a circa 1891 drinking den that once took pride of place in the old Tattersall’s Hotel before the Hilton was built in its place.
Located in the heart of the Sydney CBD, the Hilton is perhaps the best hotel in town for both business and pleasure as everything is within easy reach be it on foot, using public transport or by car. A big plus for the Hilton has been the new Sydney tram network that runs directly outside the main entrance and can whisk you away to all the city’s hotspots in minutes. It takes less than five minutes to get to the Sydney Opera House or you can get to the Sydney cricket ground in 20 minutes.
Arriving at the Hilton Sydney, you can’t help but notice its impressive glass facade and shining marble foyer. New contemporary art also plays a big part in the hotel’s most recent refresh, taking up key spots around the hotel. Scan the QR code in the lobby and you can go on an interactive art tour around the hotel, something we enjoyed doing on our final morning at the hotel.
Arriving at reception, a smiling staff member greeted us and had us checked in within moments. Our room category was a Corner Executive King on the 27th floor. This room type enables access to the hotel’s executive club lounge which offers lots of additional benefits like drinks and evening canapes plus breakfast in the mornings. The hotel was almost full during our visit but everything ran very smoothly, with plenty of staff on hand whenever we wanted them throughout the hotel.
Entering the room, we immediately fell in love with the padded window seats on the wide sills which were perfect for gazing out at the city and catching a distant glimpse of Sydney Harbour. The Hilton’s 587 rooms and suites have undergone several refreshes, including the most recent addition of new décor, carpets, desks, lounges and bathroom fittings. We liked the calming blend of silver and soft blues and the comfortable lounge chair and footstool which was perfect for reading. The signature Hilton Serenity Bed takes pride of place in the room with a work desk adjacent to the bed and there’s a walk in shower and adjacent bathtub with toiletries by Crabtree and Evelyn.
There was also a large 140cm TV, mini bar (empty but you can call to stock this with all your favourites), coffee and tea making facilities and updated power points with USB sockets. We would have preferred a coffee pod machine rather than sachets of instant coffee but there were plenty of places to pick up a barista style coffee nearby. Overall the room felt fresh and crisp with a classy colour scheme and lots of natural light. The electric blinds on all of the windows blocked out every scrap of light and made for a great night’s sleep.
Dining at the Hilton Sydney was a highlight with its destination restaurant, Glass Brasserie, making the most of the glass frontage on the 2nd floor. Sit by the window and you’ll get a beautiful view of the Queen Victoria Building, an original and very grand 19th century shopping complex, but you’ll probably have a hard time taking your eyes off your plate. Glass is widely regarded as one of Sydney’s best restaurants and it lives up to expectations and then some. From the attentive service to the wine list which is so extensive it needs a table of contents, our dining experience is one we would gladly fly from Brisbane to Sydney for again. Highlights included an excellent European wine recommendation that well and truly overdelivered (and also fit our budget), warm and attentive service, two mains that were both so good we swapped half way and the restaurant’s signature liquorice meringue roll dessert.
Breakfast is also served at Glass Brasserie from 6.30am until 10am during the week and 7am until 11am on weekends. The buffet offers everything you could want and more with some nice extras like house made beans, avocado smash for jazzing up your breakfast toast and omlettes that can be ordered from the waitstaff and delivered once they’re ready. Service throughout the hotel was a highlight during our stay and breakfast was no exception, with plates whisked away promptly and regular offers to get us another coffee or juice, even though the restaurant was packed. Don’t miss the fresh juice blends available at the buffet if you feel like a change from the usual OJ.
If you fancy a quick light bite, you’ll find Caffé Cino in the lobby but this coffee shop which also serves light meals doesn’t open until 11am on weekends. However, this isn’t a problem as the Queen Victoria Building across the street has cafes serving coffee and light bites from 6am daily, including Sundays. In the evening, you can enjoy a snack and drinks at Zeta Bar on Level 4 or Marble Bar on the level below the lobby. Marble Bar is a must visit for its atmospheric surrounds, signature Lychee Ensemble cocktails and original c.1800s paintings by English artist Julian Ashton – don’t miss it!
We never use hotel gyms but the one in the basement of the Hilton Sydney was impressive. It is part of the Fitness First chain so it’s huge and has all the latest equipment (and plenty of it). There is also a serious lap pool that looked very popular with the fitness set although it’s not the kind of place you would relax and read a book. The hotel’s multiple conference venues were also a big draw card for the corporate/wedding crowd during my visit.
The other standout feature of the Hilton Sydney is the Executive Lounge on level 36 which is available to executive room and suite guests. It’s a large space with different areas to suit different types of guests, from a room with couches for groups (so they don’t disturb the romantic tables for two along the window), dedicated work stations with powerpoints and USB charging ports, tables of four for families and friends, and bench seating for those who like to chat to other travellers. A continential breakfast is offered from 6:30am to 10am and sweet baked slices are available during afternoon tea from 2.30pm till 4.30pm daily. The popular cocktail hour is from 5pm until 7pm and includes a generous and upmarket selection of eats like fresh prawns, hot appetisers and a large cheese selection. Wines are from the quality Tempus Two range with spirits and beers also available.
Overall, the Hilton Sydney is an excellent hotel that is equally good for business or leisure travellers with a central location that is impressive for its convenience and excellent shopping opportunities. Add charming staff who know their stuff, a beautiful signature hotel bar and dining at Glass Brasserie that’s worth staying in for and you have the perfect Sydney stay.
Disclosure: The writers stayed as guests of the Hilton Sydney and would not hesitate to stay at and dine the hotel again at their own expense.
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