The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney in the heart of the city’s cruise precinct has been a prominent feature of the city’s hotel landscape since opening as The Regent in 1982 when it was billed as the city’s first true luxury hotel. Like so many buildings of the period, it is not an architectural triumph externally, but has continued to at least keep pace, if not exceed the rising benchmark for so-called “upper upscale” or 5-star properties in the city, if not worldwide.
In 2012 The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney was named the Best Hotel for Service in Australasia and South Pacific in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller UK Gold List.
A massive $65 million refurbishment took place in 1999 and beginning in 2009, the hotel has just completed a major rolling makeover with substantial remodelling and upgrading to public spaces, restaurants, bars and guest offerings.
The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney regularly operates near full capacity and is particularly busy during cruise season (Jan-Mar) thanks to commercial agreements with premium cruise lines such as Cunard and Princess. (NB: Prices for hotels can only be quoted after your booking is made with the cruise line)
The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney has always had an enviable reputation for dining excellence. Kable’s Restaurant was a Sydney icon renowned for its superb cuisine. Sadly, Kable’s is no more, replaced by the new ultra-hip and oh-so-contemporary dining experience, The Woods, under guidance from acclaimed Aussie chef, Hamish Ingham. The former restaurant space on the mezzanine is now occupied by smart new business meeting suites.
Built into the location once filled by the lobby bar, The Woods is a masterpiece of design and modern restaurant concepts. Constructed around an elaborate wood-fired oven burning scented timber, the space is open, accessible and lively and now fulfills an entertainment niche as well as serving great food. If you are winding down after a cruise, The Woods will extend your gourmet appreciation. Or if you are anticipating a cruise, your shipboard chef will have a standard to uphold.
If you are looking for something quick and tasty, the hotel’s swank new bar, Grain, is pouring sexy cocktails and offering exclusive boutique ale on tap. The Grain Burger (with house draft ale on the side) is wonderfully comforting. Drink prices and food at Grain are not as expensive as you might think and are in line with neighboring establishments of, er, lesser appeal.
As you’d expect, business services, meeting rooms and function center are all part of this landmark city hotel. Guests can also enjoy in-house spa and massage, pool/Jacuzzi deck and gym.
The hotel has a total of 531 rooms including a Presidential Suite, a Deluxe Royal Suite, two Royal Suites, four Executive Harbour View Suites and 100 Grand Premier rooms (formerly called Junior Suites).
The pick of the bunch for value and location are the Executive Harbour View Suites, which command a gorgeous view of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Circular Quay. Thanks to proper sound-proofing there is zero road noise and, coupled with Four Seasons notorious bed and pillow combo, you’d better be sure to set your alarm the night before. In fact, set two and book a wake-up call. (This writer almost overslept a business meeting, so lesson learned)
Regardless of your room choice, my other strong recommendation is to take the Executive Club upgrade which gives you exclusive access to the Level 32 lounge, itself just fresh from its own redecoration. Here you can enjoy (and I do mean ‘enjoy’) private check-in and check-out facilities, complimentary buffet breakfast, all day snacks, complimentary drinks including fine wines and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, reservations in The Woods and Grain, Club concierge, magazines and newspapers, business stationery, ticket and hotel reservations and free pressing of two garments per day. At A$140 for two, it’s a gift.
It is in fact one of Sydney’s most acclaimed hotel rooms. The Deluxe Royal Suite is often requested by celebrities and high flyers ahead of the more prestigious Presidential suite, but why? Even at almost $4000 per night, the 107 sqm Deluxe Royal Suite is almost always booked and has rested the weary heads of many stars of stage and screen, dignitaries and captains of industry. Those close to the action claim it is the chic ‘New York’ apartment’ style decor from design house, Bates Smart, while others just as keen to declare it is thanks to Sydney’s sexiest bathtub.
A reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald suggested: “It’s the city apartment weekender of your dreams, a place you would consider renting permanently if you were an heiress.”
Downtown Sydney can be a bit hectic for private and taxi traffic, especially during peak times. The hotel is however located very close to Sydney’s Circular Quay rail station which is equipped with elevators and lifts for travellers arriving with luggage. You can catch a train (Fare: A$15pp) almost to the hotel itself from the airport, although a party arriving at offpeak times may find a single cab more convenient for little extra money. Average cab fares should be around A$40 with surcharge and a small tip in favourable traffic.
The hotel can, however, arrange an Airport Pick Up in a Luxury Sedan at AU$110.00. Private parking at extra cost.
From the hotel, the Overseas Passenger Terminal (which you can see from your window) is a comfortable walk with rolling luggage. Garden Island, Glebe or Darling Harbour, while still handy, will require a cab if your cruise line are not providing a transfer.
Hotel website http://www.fourseasons.com/sydney/
ADDRESS: 199 George Street SYDNEY NSW 2000 Australia TELEPHONE: (61 2) 9250 3100 FACSIMILE: (61 2) 9251 2851 EMAIL: [email protected]Roderick Eime is perhaps best known for his adventure and expedition cruise contributions, but is also an avid hotel and resort reviewer.