As Sydney is Australia’s biggest and busiest city, accommodation in Sydney can burn a hole in your pocket. There’s no doubt Sydney is a stunning destination but it’s also a large city that is spread out and choosing where to stay in Sydney can be a daunting task. Since moving away from Sydney, I’ve been back at least once a year for the last five years and I can definitely say that choosing that this is a city where choosing the right place to stay can make a huge difference to your trip.
Here’s our guide on how to decide where to stay in Sydney and an overview of the best neighbourhoods for visitors to choose.
- Where To Stay In Sydney
- Darling Harbour
- Central Business District (CBD)
- The Rocks
- Kings Cross and Potts Point
- Sydney Airport
Where To Stay In Sydney
Darling Harbour is a popular venue for conferences and conventions but even if you’re just staying in Sydney for leisure, being close to Darling Harbour has its benefits.
If you’re looking for a Sydney CBD hotel within walking distance of Darling Harbour and close to a train station, there are several to consider.
Darling Harbour has a huge choice of restaurants and bars, so choosing a hotel within walking distance after a night out has its benefits.
You could stroll down to Barangaroo or Cockle Bay for a drink or a coffee and Pitt Street Mall isn’t too far away (this is the shopping precinct in Sydney for fashion) and then there are the upmarket designer boutiques in the Queen Victoria Building.
Featured Hotel In Darling Harbour
Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour
When visiting Sydney, if you are looking for a contemporary hotel within walking distance of the International Convention Centre and the centre of Sydney, Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour fits the bill.
The hotel is a 10-minute walk downhill to the ICC and 10 minutes from Pitt Street Mall and Sydney Tower.
One of the most attractive features of Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour is its heated rooftop pool, which is a top spot to sip cocktails and enjoy city views.
Unique design elements include New York loft-style mesh wardrobes and semi-circular showers.
If you’re after a bit more space, the Executive Suites have comfy sofas where you can sit and watch a show on an LCD screen.
Breakfast is available on the ground floor at The Sussex Store and being close to Darling Harbour; there are plenty of dining options open all day long.
Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour is at 319 to 325 Sussex Street, Sydney.
Boutique Hotels in Darling Harbour
West Hotel Sydney is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton and is located at the doorstep of the vibrant new Barangaroo development.
Staying at West, you’re just around the corner from an impressive selection of waterfront bars, restaurants, ferry terminals and the new Crown Casino.
Wynyard train station is a four-minute walk away.
It’s a sophisticated hotel with a moody feel decked out with designer finishes. Think marble, dark timber and blue velvet.
Rooms are compact and furnished with comfortable beds, Nespresso machines and integrated Bluetooth speakers that allow you to play music from your smartphone and watch Netflix on the large TV monitor.
Breakfast consists of a light but well-presented buffet with pots of fresh fruit, chia seed pudding and homemade bircher muesli while the à la carte menu has a range of choices such as French toast and eggs Benedict.
Luxury Hotels in Darling Harbour
Park Royal Darling Harbour
Superior Rooms have downtown views but if you’re after more of a Sydney ambience it’s worth booking a Darling Harbour room, which is particularly attractive at night when the skyline is all lit up.
Stay in a Club Room on the 8th and 9th ninth floors.
Park Royal Club provides members with benefits worth paying extra for, such as complimentary breakfast, twilight drinks and canapés (between 5.30 and 7 pm) as well as refreshments throughout the day.
There’s a decent breakfast spread with hot and cold selections.
The pastry selection is particularly enticing and there’s a coffee machine that makes decent coffee.
Club members also receive priority check-in and are guaranteed a late check-out.
ABODE Bistro and Bar does a decent and well-priced lunch.
High Tea at ABODE Bistro and Bar is worth experiencing if you’re staying between Friday and Sunday.
Dishes that are a modern twist on classic favourites, such as prosecco-cured salmon roulade or blueberry and vanilla scones with rose-scented Chantilly cream.
Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour
This boutique hotel is in a heritage building and resembles an old woolshed because that’s exactly what it was.
Even the sign – 1888, the year it was built – was required to remain.
On the outskirts of the Sydney CBD, 1888 is minutes away from the Star Casino, Darling Harbour and Sydney’s harbourside collection of restaurants.
You may also like to check out these Darline Harbour hotels:
Darling Harbour Hotels Under $200 a night
Ibis Sydney King Street Wharf
Ibis Barangaroo is a budget hotel in a vibrant location near a row of fabulous restaurants.
It’s one street back from the waterfront and in a convenient location near the Barangaroo ferry terminals.
Ibis’ 91 rooms are compact and if you don’t mind staying in a room about the size of a cruise ship cabin with all the mod cons you’d expect in a contemporary city pad then this is the perfect hotel for you.
The hotel is a short walk to Darling Harbour’s restaurants, bars and cafes and about a 15-minute walk to the CBD.
Wynyard Station is a couple of blocks from the hotel, making it a convenient spot if you’re travelling by public transport.
Ibis Hotel is at 22 Shelley Street, King Street Wharf. Depending on the season, you might be able to snag a room for around $120 a night. Check out the latest prices here.
Other hotels to check out are:
Darling Harbour Budget Hotels
For more things to do in NSW read:
Central Business District (CBD)
If you love department store shopping, you can’t beat staying in a hotel that is surrounded by shops in the heart of Sydney’s central business district.
It makes it so much easier when you can pop back to your room and not lug around shopping bags all day as CBD hotels are close to the Queen Victoria Building and the shops at Westfield.
Luxury hotels in Sydney CBD
If you’re visiting Sydney with kids, Swissotel offers child-minding services and the Swissotel Kids Rooms are designed for visitors aged between two and 12, with bright cheerful décor and fun features like toys, DVDs and video games.
Even the restaurant and room service menus are designed with kids in mind.
Just Pure Bistro has healthy options like steamed chicken, rice and broccoli puree and fun items like Bugs bunny’s freshly squeezed carrot and apple juice.
Fresh, organic and locally sourced produce is the key to the menu at Swissotel’s main restaurant, Just Pure Bistro (or Jpb).
Think extra virgin olive oil from Megalong Valley and pork from Byron Bay.
Some dishes and cocktails are prepared with organic honey from 200,000 bees that live on the roof of the hotel.
Oh yes, Swissotel has a beekeeper, Doug, whose job is to cultivate organic home-grown honey from the urban beehive or “Buzz Factory” located on level 10 of the hotel.
The bees live in four hives and fly between the hotel and the Botanical Gardens or Hyde Park, where they collect pollen to create honey used in the hotel’s restaurant.
On that note, you might like to know the hotel has also adopted a peach tree from Bilpin Fruit Bowl, 55km from Sydney.
Fruit from the tree is harvested and utilised throughout the hotel.
Surplus fruit is sold in the markets and the proceeds are donated to the Cancer Research Unit at the Children’s Hospital Westmead.
Shopping can indeed be tiring! Swissotel Sydney’s Day Spa is a great spot to unwind and recharge, especially after walking all day.
The Day Spa offers a choice of treatments and there’s a well-equipped gym, a heated outdoor pool and a Jacuzzi.
The hotel has 359 rooms and suites, which are spacious and some have views of Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower.
Have you heard of the saying you get what you pay for?
Premier corner rooms have private balconies and panoramic views of the skyline.
There is 24-hour room service, complimentary access to the fitness studio, free WiFi in public areas and a business centre.
Swissotel Sydney, 68 Market Street, Sydney 2000 NSW, Australia, tel: +61 (2) 9238 8888.
When you arrive in Sydney Domestic Airport, the cheapest and fastest way to get to your CBD hotel is to use the Sydney Airport Link but catching the train isn’t always convenient, especially if your hotel is a long walk from a station.
This is one of the things that makes Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney is a good choice as it’s only a five-minute walk (downhill) from Wynyard Station.
Besides being close to a Sydney CBD station, the hotel is in O’Connell Street and within walking distance from the harbour and the business end of town.
So if you’re booking appointments in Sydney, it’s a convenient hotel to choose and if you’re travelling as a tourist, it’s still a good choice as the hotel is a pleasant 15-minute stroll to the Opera House.
Being so close to the Sydney Opera House, which is one of the most famous Australian landmarks is a bonus!
Customer service plays an important role in the overall experience of a hotel stay and Radisson Blu gets a big tick for good customer service and overall friendliness.
The hotel’s 1800s sandstone building housed the Fairfax newspaper empire and the Bank of New South Wales.
The lobby is cosy and not overly flashy while the ground floor Bentley Bar Restaurant & Bar is a spacious area with plush lounge chairs.
If you’re travelling for business (or if you’re glued to your smartphone) the seats along that side wall nearest to reception has power points right along.
High Tea ($49 with tea or coffee/$69 with a glass of champagne) at the Radisson looks delicious.
On the menu are cucumber sandwiches, curry puffs, scones and strawberry Swiss rolls.
Bentley Restaurant & Bar is listed in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide Awards with two chef hats and a wine glass.
Rooms have a fresh contemporary feel with a good-sized work desk and comfy lounge, ample wardrobe space, iPod docking station and free high-speed Wi-Fi.
There’s a decent business centre, a 15-metre indoor pool and spa as well as a gym.
The breakfast buffet is served in the Lady Fairfax room and had an adequate variety of choices.
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 is near Hyde Park and Queen Victoria Building and right beside Koreatown.
Chinatown is two blocks away.
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.
For a sense of history, check out the original basement strong room where the money was locked up after Sydneysiders paid their water bills.
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.
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).
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, 339 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW, (02) 8027 8000.
Here are more luxury hotels in Sydney:
Hotels in Sydney CBD under $200 a night
It’s possible to book a room in the Sydney CBD for under $200 a night but this depends on availability and events or conferences in town. While most of these hotels offer reasonable rates, if there’s a major conference on you can expect the rates to shoot up above $200 a night.
- Meriton Suites Sussex Street
- Breakfree on Clarence
- Mercure Sydney
- Sydney Central YHA
- The Tank Stream
For more NSW attractions read:
The Rocks are an excellent choice if you’re visiting Sydney for the first time and you want to soak up the historic atmosphere and harbour vibe.
The Rocks is Sydney’s historic quarter and has lovely old buildings that house old pubs, restaurants and bars while the CBD is only a 15-minute walk away.
Luxury Hotels in The Rocks
- Park Hyatt Sydney
- Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
- Pier One Sydney Harbour
- The Sebel Quay West Suites
- Harbour Rocks Hotel Sydney
- Rendezvous Hotel Sydney
Hotels in The Rocks Under $200 a night
Sydney Harbour YHA
Not all views cost an arm and a leg.
There’s no shortage of luxury hotels with birds-eye views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House, but budget travellers should check in to Sydney Harbour YHA.
The hostel opened in 2009 and is in the heart of The Rocks, with historic pubs only a stroll away.
You can pay $41 for a dormitory bed and enjoy the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House view from the rooftop terrace or splurge on a double room with a stunning view for around A$150.
One of the unique features of Sydney Harbour YHA is the site is built above an archaeological dig site that contains remains from the late 18th century when Europeans first settled Australia.
The historic location combines with the contemporary hostel that attracts a wide range of travellers, including families and retirees, makes it a unique place to stay in Sydney.
Its location in Sydney’s historic Rocks is not far from Circular Quay, the Opera House and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Sydney Harbour YHA, 110 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Check out the latest prices here.
Finding well-priced accommodation in Sydney can be a bit of a challenge, especially during weekdays.
When there’s an event on you can forget about watching the budget but if you’re on a tight one there are several excellent hotels in Chinatown.
The big plus is you’ll be close to some of the best Asian food in the country.
Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central
Adina has a reputation for providing comfortable apartment hotel accommodation at rates that won’t send you into debt.
It’s actually called Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central is in a grand heritage-listed building, a restored post office Of all Adina’s apartment hotels, opposite Central Station.
It’s in a great location near Chinatown, which has lots of restaurants, and the Spanish Quarter, if you’re hankering for tapas.
Although the hotel is opposite Central Station, where you can jump on the City Circle train to the Sydney Opera House or Circular Quay it’s worth noting that if you’re in a hurry, the platform is quite a long hike.
The lobby is surprisingly contemporary and decorated with cheerful, colourful and modern artworks while the high ceilings portray a feeling of grandeur.
There are studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments that have a home away from home feel.
The good thing about booking an apartment-style hotel is it comes with, dining table, kitchen and clothes washing facilities.
You also get all the facilities you’d expect in a city apartment, such as a heated swimming pool and gym.
I stayed in a loft apartment, which was spacious and had floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
It felt much like staying in a city pad, with busy city views, belonging to a friend.
Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central is at 2 Lee Street, New South Wales, Australia
You may also like these hotels in Chinatown:
- Mercure Sydney
- Vibe Hotel Sydney
- Rendezvous Hotel Sydney
- Breakfree on George
Kings Cross and Potts Point
When you want to be around nightlife action, head to Kings Cross and Potts Point.
Even for Sydneysiders, this is a great spot for a weekend away as it’s near cafes, restaurants and boutiques.
Kings Cross is close enough to Sydney’s CBD you could still walk to the business district and other attractions, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Opera House and The Rocks.
Larmont Sydney by Lancemore
If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in Sydney that is close to the city but doesn’t have the feel of a large international chain, Larmont Sydney fits the bill.
The foyer is minimalist and bare, with white walls, contemporary furnishings and glass.
Although Larmont Sydney occupies several levels of a high-rise building, it has the feel of a boutique hotel with 76 rooms and suites.
It’s in a great location if you’re in town to party as Kings Cross has plenty of distractions after the sun goes down.
One of the few boutique accommodation options that welcome your furry friends, Larmont Sydney by Lancemore is a pet-friendly hotel.
There are Superior, Deluxe, Terrace and Signature and Harbour View rooms and two kinds of suites.
Rooms have free WiFi, iPads, King-sized beds and 42″ plasma TVs.
Choose a one-, two- or three-bedroom apartment for a bright and airy home away from home with all the facilities of a luxury apartment along with stunning views.
Hotels under $200 a night
If you’re on a tight budget, Potts Point is home to a number of backpacker hostels and there some cheaper hotels. Here are a few:
- Holiday Inn Potts Point
- Regents Court
- The Jensen Potts Point
- Devere Hotel
As Sydney Airport has the largest number of departures to international destinations, many travellers from all over Australia need to fly into Sydney to connect with overseas carriers, such as Air Canada, Aerolineas Argentinas, Lan Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui.
Staying near the airport the night before an international flight can make all the difference in avoiding stress caused by unforeseen situations such as delays in connecting flights, lost luggage or traffic jams.
Sydney Airport Luxury Hotels
Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport
Stamford Plaza has gained a reputation as the top luxury hotel near Sydney Airport and was named “Leading Airport Hotel in Australasia” in the World Travel Awards a few years ago.
While not right at the terminal, the hotel is located less than 1km from the domestic terminal (if you’re travelling light you could easily walk) and 3km from the international terminal.
The check-in service is geared towards travellers; the reception staff are proactive in arranging wake-up calls and airport transfers.
Superior rooms are spacious and fitted with double-glazed 8-mm thick windows to block out aircraft noise.
Deluxe rooms offer a few more extras including complimentary full buffet breakfast and fresh fruit, quality bathroom toiletries, bathrobes, slippers and complimentary bottled water.
Also on offer is a complimentary shoe buffing service and complimentary laundry pressing for two items of clothing.
All 315 guest rooms have individually controlled air conditioning, direct STD/IDS dialling, colour television and in-house videos, minibar, hairdryer, iron and ironing board and high-speed internet connection ports.
The Stamford Suites are the top of the range with spacious dining and entertaining areas, two bathrooms, dressing rooms and master bedrooms with walk-in robes.
The hotel has a rooftop lap pool, gymnasium, sauna and spa.
Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport, Cnr O’Riordan and Robey Streets, Mascot, Sydney.
- Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel
- Pullman Sydney Airport
- Holiday Inn Sydney Airport