The cathedral-like lobby of the Hilton Sydney is a thrilling place. Lamborghinis pull up at the porte-cochère, to the delight of snap-happy guests (and the valet crew!). Smartly dressed airline pilots rub shoulders with wedding guests at check-in. Romantic couples in town to celebrate anniversaries hold hands as they head to glass brasserie for a sumptuous lunch. And the smiling staff chat in numerous languages with guests from all over the world. You could be in London, Singapore or New York but for glimpses of the sandstone façade of the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) across George Street.
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You’re slap bang in the middle of everything. Shop your socks off in the CBD and then drop into the David Jones Food Hall to buy provisions for a Hyde Park picnic.
Take a leisurely stroll down Elizabeth Street to the Opera House and the ferries at Circular Quay, catch a bus to the beach or walk over to Surry Hills for flat whites and the monthly markets.
Best room for two
The Deluxe Rooms are good and the Master Suite (if you really want to spend big) has dazzling views over Hyde Park and Sydney Harbour. Die-hard romantics, however, should head straight for the King Relaxation Rooms and Suites, with their natural Australian hardwood spotted gum floors, massage-jet showers and spa baths. We immediately ran our bath and luxuriated in the water as the Sydney sunlight streamed in through the windows – it was the perfect place to plan our romantic weekend in the big city.
Executive Room, Relaxation Room and Suite guests also get access to the Executive Lounge, which offers complimentary continental breakfast and evening drinks and canapes, with amazing views of the CBD skyline. Top tip for romantics – request a room on a higher floor and on the north, south or east side of the hotel. They’re quieter and have better views – even a harbour glimpse if you’re lucky.
The only downside (and it’s easily avoidable) is that the hotel’s minibars are motion-activated and now the desktop snack displays are too. Basically, don’t touch any food or drink offerings in your room or you may end up having to pay for them – even if you haven’t consumed them.
Hilton Sydney’s culinary crown jewel is Luke Mangan’s glass brasserie. When it opened in 2005, it was Sydney’s very own version of New York’s Balthazar. It reopened in February 2018 after a $1.8m makeover and its modern, elegant design and Mangan’s creative menu make it fresh and fizzing. The glazed pork cheek and the zucchini flowers with gorgonzola are stand-out entrées. There’s now even a separate vegan menu, which includes a delicious wild mushroom risotto; glass also offers a set menu Sharing Feast every Sunday from 6pm – perfect for couples.
Despite the brasserie’s size and big-city bustle, you can still find a quiet spot in which to whisper sweet nothings over a glass of Veuve and a plate of oysters. We recommend one of the cute horseshoe booths or a window table facing the QVB.
It’s also the main breakfast venue, where you can indulge in everything from bangers and beans to paleo granola and yoghurt. Or upgrade to a Bottomless Late Buffet Breakfast (available from 10am – 12:30pm on Saturdays) to kick off the day with mimosas and Bloody Marys and take advantage of the extended hours to linger longer. We had doubts about morning mimosas until we were two or three sips in and then realised what a splendid idea it was.
The hotel’s ‘big city’ feel extends to Marble Bar and Zeta Bar. The former is one of Sydney’s iconic pubs and celebrated its 125th anniversary in October 2018. Its design is reminiscent of London’s ornate Victorian pubs, with emerald marble pillars, sweeping arches and intricately carved wooden bar-backs.
Zeta is a slick, modern bar and nightclub and the home of artisan ‘farm-to-glass’ Culinary Cocktails. For a completely new taste sensation try a Rama Caliente which blends jalapeño-infused tequila with Thai green coconut curry and sake- and ginger-infused Lillet (aromatic wine). If only they did takeout.
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Images sourced via: www.facebook.com/HiltonSydney/ and www.facebook.com/glassbrasserie/