Many people mistake Sydney for Australia’s capital – and it’s easy to see why. Sydney has a truly cosmopolitan air, a moving-and-shaking business district, world-class galleries, a thriving LGBTQ community, and plenty of accommodation options to boot. Here’s our pick of where to stay in Sydney.
There are a tremendous number of places to stay in Sydney, and fierce competition helps keep prices down. Finding somewhere is usually only a problem around Christmas, throughout Jan, in late Feb/early March during the Gay Mardi Gras, and at Easter: at these times, book ahead.
Best for hotel luxury: The Langham
A glamorous option in a quiet location, with famous afternoon teas and a spacious underground pool. Some rooms look over to Observatory Hill and Walsh Bay.
Best for historic charm: Sydney Harbour B&B
This elegant B&B is located in two historic boarding houses in the heart of The Rocks. Enjoy your substantial breakfast (included) inside or in the courtyard garden.
Best for five-star service: InterContinental
The sandstone facade of the 1851 former Treasury building forms the lower floors of this five-star hotel. Expect stunning views of the Botanic Gardens, Opera House and harbour. Pool and gym on the top floor.
Best for travellers on a budget: BASE Backpackers
This huge, modern, 360-bed hostel is well set up with two TV rooms, laundry and kitchen. Well-furnished rooms and dorms all have a/c with shared bathrooms. The women-only “Sanctuary” features hairdryers in the bathrooms, Aveda haircare products and feather pillows.
Best for YHA charm: Sydney Railway Square YHA
This cute and unusual hostel is located in a historic packing shed right by Central Station, but feels surprisingly tucked away. Besides the expected dorms there are hotel-quality doubles and even beds in burgundy-painted train carriages. Excellent communal areas including a cinema room make for a lively atmosphere.
Best for boutique hostel vibes: BIG
Central, boutique-style hostel with well-equipped, sunny rooms. The ground-floor lobby doubles as the common area with designer lounges and a high-tech guest kitchen to the side where the free buffet breakfast is served. There’s also a great roof-terrace BBQ area, guest laundry and free bikes.
Best for character and charm: Ovolo Woolloomooloo
This luxury establishment has bags of colourful contemporary style and is located on the water’s edge in a redeveloped wharf lined with fashionable cafés and restaurants. Eclectic rooms retain much of the building’s original features. Loft rooms boast city views. There’s also a day-spa, indoor heated pool and gym.
Best for foodies: Kirketon
Fashionable place in an excellent location, with lovely staff, slick service and great restaurants (including several Asian ones) and cafés on the doorstep.
Best for designer decor: ADGE Apartment Hotel
Technicolour, modern designer decor, friendly staff and nice details such as a free welcome drink and cosy slippers. Somewhere between a serviced apartment and a hotel, and highly recommended.
Best for location: Arts Hotel
Medium-sized hotel in a trendy location, run by staff tuned into the local scene (free guided walking tour of Paddington included). Comfortable, modern en-suite rooms with TV. Garden courtyard, swimming pool, in-house movies, free guest bicycles, fitness room and laundry, as well as a good on-site café.
Best for tight purse strings: Rooftop Travellers Lodge
This excellent-value budget retreat for short and long stays is right in the heart of Glebe. There’s a large kitchen, while most rooms have a double and a single bed, a/c and a PC with free unlimited broadband. Fabulous city views from the rooftop; parking included.
Best for unwinding: The Village Glebe
Three large old houses with a mellow, friendly atmosphere. The laidback guests socialize in the streetside, fairy-lit garden, and young local staff know what’s going on around town.
Best for ocean views: Noah's Bondi Beach
Huge hostel right opposite the beach with spectacular ocean views from the rooftop deck and BBQ area. Clean and well run with beach-view private rooms and decent dorms. The bathrooms are pretty cramped, though. On-site bar with bargain meals, TV Room and pool table.
Best for keen surfers: Bondi Beachouse YHA
Actually nearer to peaceful Tamarama Beach than lively Bondi, but still close enough to the action. Spacious, high-ceilinged dorms and private rooms, all with fans. Free surfboards and bodyboards.
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Top image: Sydney's iconic harbourfront © Andy Tam/Shutterstock