If you are looking for accommodation in Sydney there is a myriad of choices. A range of hotels to suit your budget, apartments, AirBNB, camping and more. We have stayed at a number of hotels across the city, last year we took the kids and stayed at the Funky QT hotel. This year on a weekend trip without the kids we decided to up the star rating and checked in to the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.
Here are six reasons you may want to check in to this hotel that you may not see listed on their website.
So you may see this listed on the website - but it has to be said. As far as locations go, you are not going to get much better than this in Sydney. Right in Circular Quay, at the bottom of The Rocks the hotel is really centrally located.
The airport train stops some 500m from the hotel, you can catch a ferry from Circular Quay to a myriad of destinations around Sydney and you can see the Opera House and the Bridge from your room! (dependant on room location - we had a partial view of the Opera House from our room as pictured).
You can walk to The Rocks and enjoy the restaurants and bars, stroll down to the Museum of Contemporary Art and enjoy breakfast there with the Opera House over your shoulder, a 10 minute walk will have you in the Shopping malls, a 15 minute walk will have you in Darling Harbour and a 10 minute walk will have you in the Botanical Gardens.
As far as locations go in Sydney for accomodation, this one ticks many boxes.
Complimentary Shoe Shine
How many hotels offer you a complimentary shoe shine? At the Four Seasons Sydney you simply place your shoes in a bag and hang on your room door by 1am and by 7am they are returned all polished and shined ready for your day! Loved it - wished I had packed more of my shoes!
Turn Down Service
The turn down service is probably one of the first things hotels cut when they are looking at tightening budgets - but I love it. There is nothing better than coming back to your room in the evening to find fresh towels hanging in the bathroom, bottles of water by your bedside, curtains drawn and the night lighting turned on.
If you like to pack light it is great to know before hand if your toiletries can be left behind. Four Seasons Sydney offer a great range of quality Appelles toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bar soap and moisturiser.
Australian designed skin and hair products, Appelles feature a combination of essential oils with botanical extracts in environmentally friendly packaging. Safe to say, it will not be detrimental to your skin or hair to use these products on a weekend getaway.
Check In Service
Now this is something I have not seen before - the check-in staff physically step out from behind the desk to personally hand you your room key when you have completed the check in process. Check in staff generally have a desk as a barrier between them and you and conduct the checkin process from behind that counter.
At the Four Seasons Sydney they have obviously recognised that barrier, so to break it the staff physically walk out from behind the counter to stand beside you, hand you your room key and welcome you to the hotel. Such a small act but one that really stood out as a hotel that is determined to offer an element of personalised service.
Charismatic Chef - Francesco Mannelli
This one you may also see on their website, but that may not translate into how charming and passionate the head chef Francesco is. Apart from the amazing premium spirit cocktails with unique mixes of fresh ingredients that are on offer, Francesco has introduced a stylish and simple menu at Mode Kitchen and Bar that focuses on fresh, quality, Australian produce.
We were fortunate enough to meet Francesco on our visit where he enthusiastically spoke about his joy for cooking at Mode, creating a new menu and sourcing quality ingredients. He proudly displayed the restaurants signature menu item, a 1kg grain fed T-bone sourced from the Coorong. As South Australians we were impressed that much of his produce comes from our State. I was a combination of impressed yet disturbed by the size of the cut of meat on offer - surely no-one would eat that on their own! Would they?
And restaurant manager, Simone Cordedda also ensured we were welcomed and taken care of. When we passed him in the lobby after our initial meeting he made sure to say hello.
Of course there are plenty of other reasons listed on the hotel’s website - the rooftop pool is also a key highlight - but the above were our personal takeaways.
Have you stayed at the Four Seasons Sydney? What non-brochured perks have you found at hotels around the world?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Last year we visited Sydney with the kids and completed an epic 24 hours in this magical city that packed in some great highlights. This year we were able to get a child free weekend, something that rarely happens, so decided to head back to Sydney to see what a child free weekend in Sydney could entail.
Some of the things we did, the kids would also enjoy but we tried to do activities that we normally wouldn’t choose to do with an 11 and a eight year old in tow. Or that would be more enjoyable as adults without children. So here are our tips for 7 things to do in Sydney on a parents retreat.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
This is quite the investment. At AUD$298 per adult for the classic weekday 3.5 hour experience, this is not something you would do every day. Whilst children are able to climb the bridge from age eight, I can’t imagine taking my eight year old on this long tour and expect her to enjoy it.
Almost a decade ago I climbed the bridge solo whilst hubby and our then 6 month old son watched on, this time we were able to share the experience together.
It is a slow climb, plenty of pauses to enjoy the views both on the way up and down. And although the bridge looks daunting from the ground, it is not a strenuous climb at all. Apart from a few ladders to get you up and down from the arch, the climb is quite leisurely.
The views are amazing, the tour guides are informative and narrate the journey providing as much a history lesson as a great activity.
The last thing our children ever want to do is sit quietly at the end of the day and enjoy a nice pre-dinner cocktail. The last thing a fancy bar wants is children sitting at said bar!
We stayed the weekend at Four Seasons Sydney and took the opportunity to try out a few of the premium cocktails at the in-house Mode Kitchen and Bar. Bar tender Adam mixed up a mean Mojito whilst we enjoyed bar snacks prepared by head chef Francesco Mannelli including the salt & pepper school prawns.
Mode is a modern bar offering a relaxed and comfortable environment to enjoy the house specialty cocktails. With an open kitchen it was fun to sit and watch Francesco prepare the specialty dish for diners, a 21-day aged 1kg Coorong Angus T-bone!
A Friday night in Sydney’s Rocks area means packed bars and happy hours! There is no way I would ever take the kids into such a busy bar, so the opportunity to sample a $7.50 Mojito at El Camino Cantina was one not to miss.
Surprisingly the drinks were quite strong and, coupled with unlimited chips and salsa, this bar was pumping. A DJ mixing in the corner, plenty of sombreros around to use in your selfies - this is a great happy hour option between 5-7pm Monday to Friday.
Darling Harbour restaurants also have great daily happy hour offers if you are prepared to have an early start to your evening. Normally with the kids we have to eat at 5pm for them - was nice to eat later saving time for pre-dinner happy hour drinks!
Harbour Dinner Cruise
Sydney’s Harbour is one of the most picturesque in the world. As avid cruisers, we have taken a few ships in and out of this harbour and know how magical the view from the water can be.
Captain Cook offer a range of dinner cruises where your dining experience is coupled with spectacular scenery. For 3.5 hours we enjoyed a relaxed experience that gave us plenty of time to leisurely dine and enjoy the sights and lights of Sydney’s harbour.
We joined the cruise at Circular Quay and sailed under the bridge to Darling Harbour before going back under the bridge and out towards the heads closely following the shore past some of the most prime real estate in the country at Potts Point, Darling Point and Watson's Bay.
The cruise featured a live band offering a dinner dance scene for those inclined, we opted for the open deck and some magical night photos in front of the Opera House and Bridge.
The Captain's Dinner Cruise provided a three course meal with sparkling wine on arrival, priced between AUD $99 - $149 per head. The menu provided a number of choices, the service was quick and efficient - however it is really the views and the experience where your investment is returned.
Run across the Harbour Bridge
If I am going to take a morning run, having some good scenery for the task is helpful. We were staying close to the Bridge so a Sunday morning pre-breakfast run across the bridge was a great way to start the day.
The initial incline was a bit steeper than what I anticipated, but the downhill runs at either end made it manageable for a novice runner. A return trip from our hotel in Circular Quay the run was just short of 4.5km.
Afternoon at the Pub
Sydney has some great old Pubs, none better than the Glenmore at the Rocks. Perched up high, the split level pub offers spectacular views of the Opera House from the rooftop bar.
The ground level bar is open and breezy with lots of open windows and light. We were in Sydney for the AFL grand final so found a spot at the bar and enjoyed the atmosphere of watching AFL amongst a packed crowd passionately supporting their teams with a cold brew in hand.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
If you thought Bondi was a great attraction, you should try the coastal walk that winds through 6km of spectacular coastline taking in Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee beaches.
The natural beauty of this coast offers plenty of postcard moments coupled with calm swimming beaches, golden sands, green parklands and cute seaside cafes.
Another attraction of the walk is the famous Waverley Cemetery which overlooks the ocean and must be one of the most beautiful places in the world to be offered as a final resting place. Due to some recent storm damage, the walk actually diverted right through the heart of the cemetery. And although I did not see that of famous poet Henry Lawson it was fascinating reading the turn of the century headstones.
Although this is something the kids would also enjoy, it was nice to do the walk at adult pace and not have to be carrying water bottles for two others in my pack!
Have you taken a parents retreat to Sydney? What would you recommend?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Australia is a great melting pot of nationalities from all over the world. Sydney has a concentration of Asian cultures in China Town and the surrounds - the perfect location for Yum Cha.
When we told the kids we were going to Yum Cha for lunch, they decided they wanted McDonalds instead. We compromised by allowing them McDonalds but they still had to join us for the experience.
To find a good location for lunch we of course checked Trip Advisor, however then asked a shop keeper in China Town which of the shortlist he actually ate at. It was by this process we decided on Marigold - a choice that proved a winner.
In my experience some of the best restaurants I have discovered have not been on main streets or even at street level. But rather on a high floor of a high-rise building in a location that many would never know even exists.
When we got out the lift at level four we instantly knew we were in for a treat. What greeted us was a large bustling restaurant with a great mixture of tourists and locals enjoying the culinary experience of Yum Cha.
Yum Cha ladies dressed in blue pinafores rolled trollies of delights between the tables whilst traditionally dressed waiters in black pants and white shirts seated guests and served pots of Chinese Tea.
Before we even had a chance to sip our tea, the trolly dolly was laying a plate of prawn dumplings on our table stamping our Yum Cha sheet before we had a chance to say Ni Hao!
The Yum Cha trolly dolly does not take kindly when you reject her delicacies - especially if it is the last on her trolley and she is wanting to head back to the kitchen for a reload.
If you have never experienced Yum Cha the process is this - you sit at your table and a selection of food is paraded around the restaurant on trollies for you to pick and choose what you desire. For every plate that is placed on your table a stamp is placed on your table’s Yum Cha Menu.
You really have no idea what each plate cost - nor really what it is you are actually eating no matter how many times you ask the server what it is she is serving.
The food is almost secondary to the experience. However fortunately in this case the Marigold delivered both great food and atmosphere.
The kids regretted the burger that had already made it to their stomach and found room to squeeze in a sampling of prawn dumplings, spring rolls, pork buns and Chinese Tea. Miss 7 enjoyed the challenge of the chop sticks and Master 10 surprised us by his natural ability to manipulate the utensils as if they were an extension of his hands.
Have you sampled a great Yum Cha in an obscure location? Let us know your top tip for Yum Cha restaurants with a great atmosphere.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Book Your Sydney Getaway Today - We Recommend QT Hotel.
Other blogs you may enjoy
- 24 hours in Sydney with Kids
- Hotel Review QT Sydney
- Magical Moreton Island
- Getting Dirty in Vietnam
December 2016 we had a two-night stay in Sydney before joining a cruise. Finding a hotel in Sydney this trip had a few challenges. A) The price of accommodation in December is always at a premium and B) Finding a hotel room in Sydney with a room occupancy for four people also limited our choices.
The Itchy Feet Family consists of two adults and two children, Master 10 and Miss 7, and we prefer to only have one room. Many hotels in Sydney require families to purchase two rooms due to maximum occupancy rates of three.
However, we stumbled across a flash sale with priority rewards chain and discovered the QT Hotel. Located in Market Street, this boutique hotel is situated in the centre of the CBD right in the thick of the shopping district and almost directly underneath the Sydney Tower.
At $250 a night the hotel offered twin queen beds, perfect for a family of four with young children. And what a surprise this hotel was.
The Boutique hotel is actually owned by the State Theatre and the styling reflects the connection. Quirky little additions throughout starting from the uniform of the porters, the wall of vintage suitcases in the lobby and the dress mannequins reflecting pieces of art - we were fascinated by the intricate details of the hotel.
The room was spacious for Sydney standards, really funky decor topped off with a large bathroom consisting a his and hers sink, deep round tub and large shower with a rain shower head.
In-room we had free Wi-Fi and movies as well as a Nespresso coffee machine that came with fresh milk to warm in the milk frother for a true in-room cappuccino.
The hotel had a tiny in-house gym with a few pieces of equipment, however another great addition to a stay at the QT hotel is access to the Virgin Active Club located just a few minutes walk from the hotel. We were staying on Boxing Day, so it was closed, however from what we saw on the internet anyone that takes their fitness seriously would appreciate the value of this additional extra.
Although located in the thick of the CBD, another great advantage of this hotel was just how quiet the room was. We were only staying on Level 4 and yet not a sound of the outside world could be heard from the comfort of our room. Another rarity for a hotel room anywhere in the world, let alone Sydney.
From the hotel you are in walking distance of China Town, Circular Quay and Darling Harbour and on your doorstep you can just walk across the street to be in the Westfield Shopping district with a myriad of choices for shopping and dining.
I did overhear a guest unhappy that her room had not been serviced in the afternoon and when we went out in the evening at 5pm we also had to request a room refresh as it had not been done. However given it was a public holiday I imagined they may have been low on staff. To their credit the reception staff were very apologetic and when we returned later that evening the room had been cleaned.
If you are after something a little bit different from your typical chain hotel, the QT Hotel in Sydney certainly delivers.
Check Availability Today.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in:
- 24 Hours in Sydney - With Kids
- Ya'll Come Back Soon - Our Visit to Dixie Dude Ranch
- Look Out Zimmer Frames, Zip Lines are Coming Through - Adventure Cruising
- Getting Dirty In Vietnam - Visit to the Nha Trang Mud Baths
With just over 24 hours in Sydney we wanted the kids to see as many of the major attractions as we could squeeze in. We are an active family - this is what 24 hours in Sydney looked like for us.
7:30am wake up
As the weather was going to be hot we decided to get up and going early. Everyone dressed in sneakers and sports gear we slapped on the sunscreen and hats and headed out nice and early.
Stop One: The Sunrise Set
An early morning in Sydney would not be complete without a walk by the Channel 7 studio to try and get yourself on the morning Sunrise show. We headed for Martins Place and hung around the glass viewing area until we got a wave from Andrew O’Keefe and the kids got a wave in on the National TV show. Half an hour later our phone received messages from those at home that had seen us. Check!
Stop Two: Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens in Sydney are expanse and tranquil. The park was abundant, the strong floral smells smacked you in the face as you entered the gates and the garden beds were immaculately kept with an array of various plants and flowers. The contrast between the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle streets to the green and lush of the gardens is worth a visit. Albeit for us a quick run through to stop three.
Stop Three: Macquarie’s Chair
Of all the visits to Sydney I had never made it to this point and I was glad we had taken the time to do so this morning. The views that you get which take in the Opera House and Harbour are well worth the visit. However I was disappointed that there was no actual “Chair” - that is a hoax! We had to google to make sure we were in the right spot due to the absence of a chair.
Am I the only one that thought there was supposed to be a chair there?
Stop Four: Opera House
Our jogging (well kids are walking and complaining a little by now!) path then took us back along the water edge around to the Opera House.
A few sets of stair runs for the adults to get our cardio in for the day and some great photo opportunities.
We continued to follow the path along the edge taking us up through Circular Quay and around to view the cruise ship docked in port for the day.
Stop Five: Pancakes at the Rocks
The only way Miss 7 would continue to walk/jog was based on the promise of pancakes. This place did not disappoint. A 4-stack of pancakes for $9.95 was pretty good value for breakfast in this part of town.
Stop Six: Harbour Bridge
Following our late breakfast stop we continued our walk around the water to take photos under the Harbour Bridge and wave to those taking the climb. We had wanted to recreate a photo we had taken of Master 10 when he was just 6-months old on his first visit to Sydney, however set-up for New Years Eve had the lawns cordoned off. It is still a great perspective to stand under the bridge and take her all in.
Stop Seven: Ferry Ride
When in Sydney you have to get out on the water. We wanted to head to China Town so chose to take a Ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour. A single trip ticket for the family of four cost $20.60 and took us on about a 30-minute water ride with a stop at Luna Park and some great photo opportunities of the Bridge and Opera House along the way.
Stop Eight: Darling Harbour
We then strolled through Darling Harbour to take in the atmosphere and grabbed a cool drink whilst the kids tried out the flying fox and rope course at the Darling Harbour playground. This was a popular location offering welcome relief from the lunch time sun and humid Sydney weather for the toddlers that could strip down and splash in the water park.
Stop Nine: China Town
A short stroll from Darling Harbour and we were in China Town. We walked the main street and grabbed a steamed pork bun taking in the authentic flavours of the locals. Sydney has a strong Asian influence and China Town depicts this well.
Stop Ten: REST
Our morning run turned into an epic five hour adventure. We headed back to the hotel to take advantage of the air conditioning and free wi-fi to catch a movie and recoup from the morning’s adventures. We were staying in the CBD in the thick of the shopping district so the parents tag teamed a few hours of shopping while the kids relaxed.
Stop Eleven: Hyde Park
Walking shoes back on we headed towards the SCG via Hyde Park. This park in the centre of the CBD offers plenty of lawn space to picnic and relax, large trees for shade and some interesting memorials and statues to take in.
Stop Twelve: Oxford Street
Our path then took us along Oxford Street where the coloured rainbow symbol is proudly displayed on shop fronts and bars. The kids really did not understand the significance of the area they were just interested in the butter chicken and naan on offer at the Indian restaurant we tried.
Stop Thirteen: Sydney Cricket Ground
Our epic day was capped off by a visit to the SCG where we took in all the atmosphere of 30,000 people attending the Big Bash Cricket: Sydney Sixers V Perth Scorchers. We clapped and cheered and joined in the Mexican wave with the lively crowd enjoying a great summer night of cricket at the stadium. We paid a ridiculous $6.20 for a bucket of hot chips but that is what you expect from stadium concessions - it is part of the experience.
We worked our way out of the crowds and managed to grab a taxi on Oxford Street before getting back to the hotel around 11pm. What an epic day in Sydney! How do you think we went?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in:
Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.