Primus Hotel Sydney – Gatsby glamour

Sydney’s newest five-star hotel

Primus Hotel Sydney – Gatsby glamour


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Hotel Primus
Primus Hotel Sydney. Photos supplied by: Primus Hotel Sydney

Primus Hotel, Sydney’s newest five-star hotel, is the sort of place that Jay Gatsby might like to check into. A sensitive restoration and transformation of the former Sydney Water Board headquarters on Pitt Street has uncovered a stylish art deco gem with beautiful public spaces, a glamorous rooftop bar and pool for guests and spacious, comfy bedrooms with art deco details.

A short walk from Town Hall Station, Primus Hotel (which opened quietly just before Christmas) is near Hyde Park and Queen Victoria Building and right beside Koreatown. Chinatown is two blocks away.

Primus Hotel Backstory

One of Sydney’s most impressive heritage buildings, this 1939 icon was completed just before World War II.

Believe it or not, the rooftop terrace was once used as a wartime rifle range.

The hotel was bought in 2008 by China-based Greenland who spent two years restoring it.

For a sense of history, check out the original basement strong room where the money was locked up after Sydneysiders paid their water bills.

Looking for ideas on things to see in Sydney? What about checking out a few more historic buildings the CBD or go on a food safari in Cabramatta?


Primus Hotel Sydney
Primus Hotel Sydney – Reception

While the grand tiled façade is impressive, the magnificent foyer is a knockout, oozing Great Gatsby glamour.

Now stretching up to their original height, the trademark eight-metre red scagliola columns (an unusual plaster technique) and panelled skylight have been sensitively restored by Woods Bagot and GBA Heritage.

Watch out for the original bubblers near the entrance.

Staff members were friendly and helpful, giving me directions for getting around town.

If you’re planning on seeing more of NSW, here are some Wollongong attractions you’ll love and a list of the most amazing luxury escapes in NSW


Primus Hotel
Executive King Room

The bedrooms are very spacious with a comfy king-sized bed, armchair, a generous desk (good for work) and stylish deco trimmings.

The ’30s-themed bathrooms are large with a walk-in shower and fluted glass panel (some rooms also have a bath).

Primus Hotel Sydney
Executive Bathroom

I love the towel basket – a nice touch. Little extras include a Nespresso coffee machine, free wifi, Appelles toiletries and a daily newspaper.


Relax on the seventh-floor sundeck by the 20-metre rooftop heated lap pool or you can work out on the gym’s spanking new machines.

Primus Hotel
Primus Hotel Sydney – Level 7 e.
Primus Hotel Sydney
Primus Hotel Sydney – Level 7 a


You can snack at the lobby bar or try the Wilmot, a 120-seat, a smart-dining restaurant serving contemporary Asian cuisine.

Primus Hotel Sydney
Primus Hotel Sydney – Lobby

Enjoy the theatre of the open kitchen run by head chef Ryan Hong (ex Rockpool Bar & Grill and Black by Ezard). Hong is still refining the menu but the place has great potential.

The breakfast buffet features lots of options, including the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever tasted.

Hang on

An Asian high tea starts in April 2016 and the executive and presidential suites open in May 2016.

Primus Hotel, 339 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW, (02) 8027 8000. 

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I travel, I eat, I meet lovely people and I write about my adventures. I’m a freelance journalist based in Melbourne who specialises in travel, food and feature writing. I was on staff at The Age for 14 years and four years ago I opted for the freedom of freelancing. Over the years I have also had work published in Good Food/Epicure and Traveller sections and RoyalAuto magazine.


  1. Hi Mary,

    Gatsby worth indeed! Looks beautiful and elegant, a modern day version of the early 1900’s. We only chilled by the airport on our quick trip/layover in Sydney. Can’t wait to see the real city, including this sweet hotel. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Yes the foyer is impressive, but the luxury ends with a thump as soon as you get out of thelift. Shabby lift foyer , room very disappointing, small, already showing wear and tear no storage or wardrobe space. I had an expensive dress removed from my room. Hotel too busy to telling me that the Innkeepers act made them not liable to give me compensation. 5.5 hours to even get a response and another 8 ours for the tell me that they can do nothin and tore mind me that they have no liability. We shelled out about a thousand Aussie dollars on one night at the Primus and to be treated like this is not LUXURY. Not worth the exorbitant room rate.

    • Hi Obre, Sounds like you had a bad experience at Primus Sydney. As it’s a fairly new hotel we’re curious to know how you heard about it and what drew you to stay there.

      • I work just around the corner and walk past it everyday and am absolutely in love with the building. I’m a fanatical fan of anything Art Deco, the clean lines and style of the 1930s, so was drawn to check it out. Poirot rather than Gatsby, though.

        Im an absolute fan of taking our old buildings with beautiful lines and sympathetically restoring them, keeping their original features, so I appreciate the intent with this hotel is admirable. The Wilmot restaurant really captures that charm as does the cocktail bar if ignore the irritating white pots in the bathrooms and lift foyers that are totally wrong for the period (looks like they’ve been added later hopefully just as easily removed). The entire downstairs foyer is wonderful in this regard. When I’m in the foyer I almost feel like I’m on the set of a Poirot mystery.

        In a harsh critic, but thievish the best attempt at Art Deco in this city.

        • Hi Obre, The good news is that there are still $290 a night deals on the Primus website. It’s a new hotel and staff may still be settling in but I didn’t have any issues. I really loved the sensitive restoration, especially the grand lobby.


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