Hobart is a fantastic city - I can’t believe it took me 44 years to visit this gem! Having never visited before I have now been twice in two months and I am looking for my next opportunity to return.
In June we took a family cruise from Sydney to Hobart for the dark MOFO festival that included a 48 hour stopover, in August we took advantage of new direct flights from Adelaide and indulged in a weekend girls trip.
As first time visitors to this southern city we were keen to pack in as much as possible on our short city breaks.
If you are looking for a reason to visit - and ideas for things to do while you are there - here are a few suggestions.
Red Decker Hop on Hop Off Bus
A great way to acclimatise yourself with a city is to take the Red Decker hop on hop off bus tour. This is a sure fire way to make sure you see all the major highlights of a city when you are short on time.
The double decker bus provided a loop of the city that takes you to locations including the wrest point casino, through battery point, past the Cascades Brewery and women’s prison, back through the city and then across to the Botanical Garden.
We opted for a 48 hour ticket and of course you can get off and on at any of the stops that spark your interest.
The advantage of a tour like this is the commentary that comes with it that offers a good insight into facts and figures about the city and a lesson on the history.
Walk to Cascades Brewery
If you are after a city walk, head uphill from Salamanca to the Cascades Brewery. A four kilometre route will take you through South Hobart (SOHO) past the heritage cottages and vintage stores to arrive at the Brewery visitor centre where you can enjoy a well deserved drink.
During winter you can enjoy a glass of mulled cider with a serve of chicken wings - and if the sun is shining there is plenty of seating in the outdoor gardens to take in the views.
Of course there are also brewery tours that you can take to see the back end operations to the Cascades brews.
Operating every Saturday, the markets are a fun way to spend your day meandering through a collection of market stalls offering local products and produce. From soy candles, to gin, pashminas to potatoes there is a wider variety of stalls to wander.
The open air markets operate from 8:30am to 3pm and have been lining the streets of Salamanca since 1972.
Hobart knows how to style a bar - there are some amazing venues to enjoy a classy cocktail in a chic setting.
In Salamanca you will find a great selection including The Den, The Botanical and The Whiskey Bar and don’t forget to head over to the Henry Jones Hotel and visit the IXL bar for rosemary infused glasses filled with tasty cocktails.
If you love Modern Art, you are going to love MONA. If you have no clue about modern art, you will still enjoy a trip to MONA! The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is the jewel in Hobart’s Crown and a must see activity.
The adventure starts when you board the camouflaged catamaran from the Brooke Street Pier and take the 25 minute fast ferry ride to the museum. If you don’t like the water, there is also a bus service to use as an alternative.
Upon arrival be prepared for an assault on the senses as you take the spiral staircase down into the underground tunnels of the museum. Download The O app and be guided through the exhibits with all you need to know by the phone in the palm of your hand.
Stop and enjoy a drink in the funky bar, visit the mechanical replica bowel depositing smelly outputs, explain the fish bowl with a knife in it sitting on a chair or just ask the question - what the MONA?
If you are after a picturesque setting for a long lunch head to the Brooke Street Pier and settle in at the Glass House restaurant. The floor to ceiling glass walls provide an uninterrupted view of the waterfront where you can gaze at the country side and watch the MONA fast ferries pull in and out on their journey from the pier.
Enjoy a three course meal, matched with a glass or two of Tasmanian wine, for a long lazy lunch.
If you are visiting in winter it is highly possible there will be snow fall on top Mt Wellington which is the back drop to Hobart city. A great way to get amongst the snow is to take the Mt Wellington Explorer Bus tour to the summit which sits at 1270m above sea level and provides spectacular views of Hobart. The tour bus leaves Hobart city regularly for the 2.5 hour return journey.
If it is snowing, the only way you will get to the summit is if you are on the Mt Wellington Explorer Bus. This tour operator has exclusive and unique access to the road that leads to the summit that is otherwise closed during snow. On the morning we visited our small bus of tourists were the only people on the summit. The fresh snow was untouched providing a unique experience for the kids who had never experienced snow fall before and were able to make their first snow angels.
Stay in Salamanca
If you are staying for a city break to enjoy the highlights of Hobart you really don’t need a car if you stay in the heart of Salamanca. We stayed at the Salamanca Wharf Hotel which is an apartment style boutique hotel right in the heart of all the city action.
Walking distance to everything you need for a weekend city break, the Salamanca Wharf Hotel provided great quality accommodation and fantastic service from friendly staff.
For a unique room, stay in the penthouse loft and enjoy the balcony views of the city. As this is an apartment hotel it features a kitchenette and laundry facilities which are always useful for families.
Have you visited Hobart before on a short break? What were the highlights of your city stay?
Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were hosted by Red Decker Hobart, Mt Wellington Explorer and the Salamanca Wharf Hotel.
South Australians can feel right at home and still get away from it all when they embark on an Adelaide staycation. A holiday in your home city or state provides an unexpected and affordable getaway from routine and reality.
Hotels.com offers many Adelaide accommodation options online. There’s also fun-filled suggestions for capturing all that Adelaide and surrounding regions have to offer.
Wine lovers are spoilt for choice in this premier wine state. The Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and world-renowned Barossa Valley are a stone’s throw away and provide access to renowned wineries, including Penfolds, Hahndorf Hill, Wirra Wirra, Bremerton, Mt Lofty Ranges and endless boutique vineyards, offering cellar-door tastings.
The kids can also feel fulfilled, educated and enlivened at a selection of tourist attractions that are right on your doorstep. The Adelaide Zoo, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Botanic Garden and pet-friendly Adelaide Himeji Gardens provide hours of child-focused sightseeing, events and activities.
Venture further afield to a range of metropolitan beaches, including the historic, family-friendly Glenelg and Brighton beaches.
Chocoholics can get their cacao fill at Australia’s oldest chocolate-making company, Haighs.
While the parents are sipping premium Pinot, Shiraz or Eden Valley Riesling in the Adelaide Hills and beyond, the kids can also savour the freshest strawberries at Beerenberg Farm before a family visit to Melba’s Chocolate Factory.
For some much-needed rest in between the exciting sightseeing, dining and cultural attractions in abundance, Hotels.com offers a range of Adelaide accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets.
Staycationers can choose to stay in five-star style at the Intercontinental Adelaide. Located in the city’s vibrant heart, this premium accommodation option provides the ultimate luxury in first-class suites, guest rooms, facilities and dining options for discerning families.
The Mayfair Hotel also offers five-star appeal, a central Adelaide base and all mod cons in one of the city’s newest and most lavish accommodation options.
If you’re planning on a seaside staycation, Glenelg beachgoers can relax in luxurious comfort and family-friendly facilities at the Stamford Grand Adelaide Hotel. With enticing family package offers and a chocolate high tea that staycationers of all ages will savour, a visit to the Stamford Grand is worth getting excited about.
Back in the Adelaide heartland, access all the city attractions with a mini or maxi break at the five-star Hilton Adelaide. With the cream of the city’s dining destinations, including Chinatown, Central Market and Gouger Street, on your doorstep, epicureans will be spoilt for choice.
Peppers Waymouth Hotel is another central and premium Adelaide accommodation option. The feature indoor heated pool with its CBD outlook through heritage bay windows, heart-and-body warming on-site sauna, state-of-the-art gym and 24-hour room service are the makings of staycation heaven.
Every day is a holiday when you and your family embark on an Adelaide staycation, with a little expert guidance from Hotels.com.
*This article was written in partnership with Hotels.com
Noosa, located on Queensland’s sunshine coast, is a great destination for families, solo travellers, couples and everything in between. There is a bit of something for everyone - and great weather most year round to greet you.
On a recent visit we discovered the Noosa Heads Coastal Walk - one of the great coastal walks in Australia, up there with the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk in New South Wales. If you like getting outdoors and experiencing amazing scenery, this walk ticks those boxes.
Starting from Hastings Street, the main street of Noosa, the start of the walk is easily accessible. Grab your morning coffee from a Hastings street cafe and then meander north in the uphill direction and you will join the boardwalk path.
There are a number of walking tracks to take in this area that allow you to discover the National Park, we opted for the Coastal Track - but an inland track is also available for those that like to discover that sort of terrain.
The walk starts out as a beautiful wide boardwalk path making it accessible even for those with strollers or wheelchairs. Most of the path is accessible - up until Dolphin Point where we saw those with strollers turning around as it gets a bit narrow with rougher terrain.
The coastal walk is a great fitness track and many locals use it for their regular routine, however as tourists we took the opportunity to do a slow meander and enjoy all the scenery had to offer.
Rugged coastline, crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, this is a stunning part of Australia.
There is a look out called Dolphin Point - where I did not see any dolphins, but at another stop along the way I watched a pod of some 15 dolphins playing in the waves - it was amazing. If you have the time to enjoy the walk at leisure, be sure to take some regular stops to soak it all in. Whales are regularly sited in-season (August to November) and Koalas can be spotted in the trees.
We walked as far as Hells Gate, about a 3.7km walk from Hastings Street, there is an option to follow the heads around to Sunshine Beach and then grab a bus to return - we opted for the return walk from midway point.
Take a Swim
If you love the surf, there are plenty of opportunities to stop off for a swim or catch some waves at quiet secluded beaches. The crowds at Noosa Main Beach are overwhelming during peak seasons, the beaches along this walk offer a much more isolated experience. The sands are white, the water is clear and they offer welcome relief from the crowds. However look out for the stingers - Queensland beaches can be unforgiving when it comes to marine life that sting and the beaches in Noosa are no exception.
There are plenty of picnic spots along the way with welcome shade from the harsh Australian sun. There were very limited toilet or water spots along the trail so be sure to pack a backpack with the essentials - hat, sunscreen, water - and if you have the time pack a picnic and enjoy one of the many stops along the way to soak it all in this a great place to do it.
Have you ever taken this walk? Leave us a comment about your highlight of the experience.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
If you are wanting to up your anti on your Australia Day celebrations, a unique option is to take an Australia Day Cruise out of Sydney that will have you spending the iconic Aussie Day in Sydney Harbour amongst all the action.
Departing out of Sydney we experienced the P&O Australia Day three night cruise aboard the Pacific Explorer in 2019. A great option for international visitors and locals alike, here is a wrap up of the highlights you can expect.
Sydney Harbour Activities
Whilst the three night cruise is a “cruise to nowhere” - ie the cruise departs Sydney Harbour and does not dock again until disembarkation - the ship does drop anchor in Sydney Harbour for Australia Day. The Harbour is abuzz of activities and the cruise ship is right in the thick of it.
With the Harbour Bridge and Opera House within your camera lens shot, there is a festive atmosphere on the top pool deck with a fever of activities going on in the Harbour. In the sky RAAF fast jets, a Navy helicopter and a Qantas aircraft all do low fly overs. On the water the iconic Sydney ferries take part in a ferry race from Circular Quay to Shark Island and then back to the finish line of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There is a tall ships race, a tug and yacht ballet and a stirring 21-gun military salute. There is so much activity in the Harbour you could literally just pull up a sun lounge and sit and watch it all unfold in front of you for the day. Tall ships, luxury yachts, catamarans and ferries - if it floated it was on the Harbour proudly flying Australian flags and enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Lamingtons, Pies and Prawns
Food is always an important element to any cruise and on an Australia Day celebration cruise there are certain items you would expect. Lamingtons and prawns featured in the pantry, or you could buy a bucket for $15, and if you were wanting a meat pie with sauce there was no shortage of them.
For those that love their pies a pie eating competition was on offer - the fastest to eat three pies washed down with a XXXX can of beer the winner!
Thong Tossing Competition
Thongs, Flip-Flops, whatever you want to call them! Australians love spending summer with a piece of rubber strapped to their feet - they are essential Australian footwear - Haviana hit the jackpot when they landed in Australia. What better way to waste away some time than throwing a thong at a target! The thong throwing competition was hotly contested - shortly followed by the beer can ring toss!
Aussie Rock Anthems
Jimmy Barnes, Midnight Oil, Darryl Braithwaite, John Farnham and Cold Chisel - all the classics you need played on Australia Day - they were all being belted out on the top deck. Groups of friends singing Horses, followed by Karaoke on the big screen on the pool deck, there was no shortage of opportunity to join in on a classic. It wasn’t the Triple J Hot 100 - but it was a great collection of Aussie anthems creating a buzzing atmosphere all day long.
Aussie Legend Dress Up Competition
Passengers were invited to don their best for a Look Like A Legend competition. From the Wiggles, Kath & Kim, Dame Edna and Steve Irwin there were some passengers that went all out for this one. With a $10,000 cash prize to be won there was some serious competitors in on this one and it created a great atmosphere onboard.
Aussie Movie Classics
For those that love their movies, a classic Aussie movie marathon ran throughout the day both indoors in the theatre and out on the pool deck. Classic Aussie films Muriels Wedding and The Castle featured.
The one question that everyone asks is - Did you see the fireworks? And the answer is no. The ship had to depart the Harbour around 4:30pm so we were not docked for the evening fireworks display. And whilst it may have been nice to have seen them - there was certainly enough activity in the Harbour during the daytime that made this a special cruise and one that we would do again for the experience.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
If you're looking for a family holiday that’s full of adventure, sunshine and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet (if we do say so ourselves!) then heading Down Under is the perfect option. That said, it’s a pretty enormous country, so for those of you who aren’t familiar, it can be hard to decide where to go. Here are our recommendations for the best places in Australia for a family holiday.
Sydney certainly doesn't disappoint. When we did our 24-hour Sydney adventure, we managed to get on national TV, explore the stunning botanical gardens, visit Macquarie’s Chair, stop off at the Opera House for some great photo ops, check out the Harbour Bridge and even catch a game at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Imagine what you could fit in if you were here for a week!
Brisbane is the perfect city for children, with so much to see and do. Take a ferry ride and head to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to fulfill a dream of snuggling with one of these furry little critters. The Streets Beach is man-made and as such has shallow water, ideal for your little ones.
For some free fun, the treehouse playground at New Farm Park is popular, or soak up some culture with the Queensland Art Gallery, or the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre – both of which cater to children.
If you’re looking for the perfect family driving holiday, jump in a campervan and head to Tasmania – small but perfectly formed. Check out the Freycinet National Park for some of the most stunning views you'll see, and explore Mt Wellington on your bikes. There are so many different museums for those rainy days, but otherwise, you will probably want to be out and enjoying the accessible wilderness.
Darwin and the Top End national parks
Nature loving families need to head to Darwin and explore the Top End National Parks for their holiday. Litchfield National Park has beautiful waterfalls, ideal for cooling down. Alternatively, head to Kakadu National Park to check out the amazing indigenous rock-art galleries, as well as spot some crocodiles and other crazy creatures. The Mindil Beach Sunset Market is ideal for a stroll after a busy day, or unwind as a family at the Deckchair Cinema.
If you’re a family of daredevils, the Gold Coast is a fantastic option, with five enormous theme parks! Head to the beach to try out surfing, jet skiing, and kayaking, but remember, if you’re going for some of the more extreme activities, you’re going to want to check that your insurance covers them – just in case! For example, base jumping is not something most insurance providers will cover. For a more relaxed afternoon, spend some time whale-watching or head to the Australia Zoo, where you will not be disappointed.
As you can see, there’s so much to offer families in Australia, and these are just five of the best – we could keep going on all day! Whether you want to soak up some culture, get your adrenaline pumping, or just relax, there’s somewhere for everyone.
So, what are you waiting for? Have you been to Australia before? Where would you recommend, or where would you most like to visit?
If you have no idea how to play golf, more swing and miss than hitting targets - here are 7 reasons to visit Top Golf Gold Coast and why it is for you. If you are a pro at all things golf and enjoy a challenge - Top Golf Gold Coast is for you. And If you are a kid that has never even picked up a golf club before - Top Golf Gold Coast is also for you!
Top Golf Gold Coast is a triple level state of the art golf driving range, the first in Australia, and here are seven reasons why you might like to give it a try.
1. All Automatic
There is no guessing the scores here - the balls are microchipped and the computer system knows exactly where you are landing. Your name comes up on the screen, you swipe your club for a ball to appear and away you go. The chip tracks how far the ball goes, whether it has hit a target or not and provides you with a score. No-one needs to sharpen their pencil or guesstimate how far the ball has travelled. Mind you for those golfers that like to exaggerate how far they can drive a ball you are in for a reality check here!
2. Variety of Games
There are a variety of games available that are programmed into the system. Whether you want to just swing and track, or if you want to be challenged to hitting certain targets, there is something for all levels of experience - and plenty of choices to make you want to come back. There are both men and women’s clubs in each bay (kids clubs are available from reception upon arrival) or you can bring your own. And both left and right handed tees are in each bay.
3. All Ages
Top Golf is an activity for all ages. We visited for a corporate function with adults and then returned as a family. Our Miss 8 barely knew what end of the club to hold, but she managed to hit a few of the targets and not once threw her club over the edge!
4. Great Atmosphere
We visited on a Thursday night for a corporate function and walked into a funky, vibrant, atmosphere for 80s night! There was a DJ on the decks of the roof top bar and there were some great tunes being blasted through the speakers. There was a really good vibe at the venue and, as well as our corporate function of 50 people, the bays were filled with groups of mates of varying ages and genders. There is a bar/eatery on the ground level as you enter the venue and then another on the rooftop level.
Our second visit was on a week day before lunch and although not as vibrant as the Thursday evening, there was still a good vibe about the place.
5. Comfortable Bays
Each bay can cater for up to six people. The bay consists of a six seater lounge area, or high tables, that offer table service for food and drinks. They have self controlled televisions with a range of sporting channels to choose from and self controlled heating, ceiling fan or mist sprayer.
6. Table Service
Everyone loves table service - especially when you are paying for your bay by the hour! The fully licensed venue serves up brunch for the early arrivals and share plates and cocktails for the late night crowd. The attendants were friendly and service was prompt for our pre-lunch time visit.
7. Bays by the Hour
The Top Golf structure is you get to hit as many balls as you possibly can in your allocated time slot - you pay for your bay by the hour. Prices vary depending on when you visit but start at $55 per hour for a midweek day time bay.
When you arrive at your bay you are set up for an hour (unless you ask for more) and when 15 minutes remains you will be prompted to see if you want to extend.
Top Golf Gold Coast is located right next door to MovieWorld on the Gold Coast - a great after theme park day out activity!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Melbourne is a great city, any time of the year, and one that has plenty of attractions for families. We have been fortunate to take a few trips to Melbourne, and each time we try to do something different. Here are eight activities to consider for your next family trip to Melbourne.
1. Catch an AFL Game
The Melbourne CBD is home to two Australian Rules Football Stadiums, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Etihad stadium. The MCG holds some 100,000 people and we were fortunate enough to be there for the ANZAC day match which saw a full house attend the game. There was something special about observing a minute’s silence amongst a crowd of that size.
Both stadiums are easily accessible via the city tram system and offer a truly authentic Melbourne experience for the whole family. You can pre-purchase tickets online to avoid the queues and get there early enough to enjoy the family zone activities on offer.
2. Explore the City on the Free Trams
Melbourne has a fantastic tram network and, within the city centre, an extensive free tram zone. There is a brown city circle tram that does a loop of the city and can get you to all the major attractions, however any tram within this zone is free. Criss cross your way across the city using any of the trams - at no cost.
3. Visit the Melbourne Museum
The Melbourne Museum is located amongst Carlton Gardens and is accessible within the Free Tram Zone. In fact you can catch a tram from Bourke Street Mall that will take you straight to the Museum stop.
Be sure to set aside at least two hours - more if you can - as there is so much to see. We were fascinated by the Forestry that included huge Mountain Ash and walkways to take you underneath the forest, the mind and body exhibition that certainly challenged our thoughts and the Melbourne Fashion exhibition that showcased some great local talent.
The Museum also holds special exhibits, when we visited the feature was the Vikings which encompassed all things Nordic. We really could have spent all day here and will absolutely return.
4. Eat Dumplings in China Town
As with most major cities, Melbourne city centre houses a China Town. Whilst I would normally recommend side stepping the main China Town street, we have actually found a few good dumpling houses on this strip. Get there early, or book a table because locals will queue for a good serve of dumplings. We are early diners so normally don’t have any trouble walking into a restaurant, it is always fun to walk out after your meal and see the big line ups waiting to get in for where you have just eaten! We visited the Empress of China on Little Burke Street and filled up on dumplings, with leftovers to take home, for just $60. The restaurants are not fancy, it is cheap and cheerful, but the dumplings were good!.
5. Try the Patisseries at Brunetti on Lygon Street
If you have a car, or are happy to travel outside the free tram zone, Brunetti’s is a Melbourne icon known for their amazing pastries and coffee. It is a truly Italian experience ordering your coffee at the bar and savouring one of the melt in your mouth cannoli filled with Italian custard. The signature store is on Lygon Street, but there are also now Brunetti stores in the CBD and at the airport.
6. Spend half a day at Sea Life
Here is a great activity for the family that will entertain you for at least three hours - more if you have the time. Located on the banks of the Yarra, there is so much to see and do at the Sea Life Aquarium. The aquarium allows you to get up close and personal to the marine life and be amazed by the sheer size of the stingrays and sharks that swim above your head as you walk through the aquarium tunnel.
The penguin playground provides plenty of entertainment as they seemingly dance and perform for and with the kids, the crocodile lair puts you up close and personal in a way that perhaps you would not really want to be to a creature that size, and the 4D Ice Age movie offers a few fun surprises. Buy your tickets before you go.
7. Take a trip to Spotswood to visit Scienceworks
If you have a car, or don’t mind a $20 Uber ride out of the city, head to Spotswood for a visit to Scienceworks. This Museum will entertain you for a whole day with interactive exhibitions that get the kids learning in a fun environment.
While you are there you can also enjoy a visit to the Melbourne Planetarium which shares the premises with Scienceworks. The presentation in the dome shaped theatre provides a great commentary on what can be seen in the Melbourne night sky and will have you picking out constellations and planets that evening (if the city lights don’t block your views!). Read more about our visit to Scienceworks.
Shop at the DFO South Wharf
Whilst Melbourne is home to many great boutiques and stores, it is good to know that there is a Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) within the free tram zone/ walking distance of the CBD. There is a great range of stores at South Wharf ranging from sporting apparel Nike, Adidas and Puma through to higher end stores including Furla and Coach.
There are so many things to do in Melbourne, every time we visit we discover something new. Read more about our Autumn visit for other ideas. What are some of your favourite Melbourne activities? Book your activities before you arrive.
Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were guests of ScienceWorks, Melbourne Museum and Sea Life Aquarium during our Melbourne visit.
Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to have a great family adventure and there are things on your own doorstep that can create special family moments and memories.
We are fortunate enough to live in Adelaide, South Australia, which comes alive in the month of March for what is commonly known as “Mad March”. There are a myriad of activities that fill the city every night providing a plethora of entertainment options for all ages. One such highlight is the Parade of Lights.
When I told the kids about this activity they remembered a similar experience we had in San Antonio Texas where a central building was projected upon each night on a half hourly rotation depicting the story of The Alamo. If the kids thought that one building was great - the Adelaide Parade of Lights was going to take that entertainment value to a whole new level.
Part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival the Parade of Lights is an open air free exhibition projecting imagery, short film and laser displays onto the buildings of North Terrace.
Eight buildings along North Terrace feature in the spectacular each providing a unique exhibit captivating the strolling crowds of the balmy Autumn evenings.
A special highlight was the Northern Lights display where a mixture of laser light and a smoke machine provided a rough replica of the Aurora Borealis.
Given the distance between Adelaide, South Australia and Iceland, the art display provides a glimpse into the northern lights that many South Australians will most likely never actually experience.
The thing we loved about this activity is that it was free, we were outside enjoying an awesome Autumn evening and the displays were captivating for all ages.
We also opted for a pre Parade of Lights dinner in North Adelaide, left the car a little out the city and walked a 5km loop. A great option as it turned out the traffic in Adelaide at this time of the year is CRAZY!
The Parade of Lights runs from 8:30pm - 12am each night of the Adelaide Fringe from February 16 - March 18, 2018. If you are in Adelaide during March be sure to check this activity out.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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. Book your ticket before you go.
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
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.