Earlier this month the 579-room Hilton Sydney was sold to Singapore-based investment house Bright Ruby for AU$442 million. This was a near record for a Sydney hotel, only eclipsed by the AU$463 million that the Sheraton on the Park changed hands for late last year. The Hilton, fully renovated in 2005, was previously the only hotel owned outright by Hilton in Australia. The hotel’s occupancy is routinely above 90%. We stayed in a Relaxation Room and were particularly impressed by the hotel’s fit-out.
We arrived at the Hilton by road. It’s worth noting that vehicular access to the Hilton Sydney is through a one way access entered through the back of the hotel on Pitt Street.
The hotel’s front entrance by foot is George Street, the main drag in Sydney’s CBD.
The lobby is often full of airline crews. We suspect that this is why the hotel’s base rates never drop too much as this would provide a good base occupancy. When we arrived, there was only one other person waiting in line for the reception, which was short, so we checked in at the front desk. We didn’t find the service or elite recognition at check-in to be great. No welcome letter or listing of Executive Lounge benefits was provided.
While there is an HHonors plaque dumped on the middle of the reception desk, there is no obvious priority check-in line down here. As a top tip: when there is a long line to check-in, make a beeline to the hotel’s Executive Lounge as Hilton Gold or Diamond member. It is on the 36th floor. The elevator does not require a key card to get to that floor and the doors to the Executive Lounge are usually propped open and the staff happy to check you in. We’ll review the Executive Lounge offering in a separate post.
We had a Relaxation Room. The hotel has sixteen of these rooms and they are very nice. In particular, we like the wooden finishings on the floor.
The room has an entrance hall of sorts. The mini-bar and coffee maker sits out here. It is worth noting that there was no complimentary water in the room.
The walk-in wardrobe is also accessible from out in the foyer.
The obvious point of difference with the Relaxation Room is that the bathroom is completely open, in what the hotel calls the ‘open spa bathroom zone’. While it is possible to close it off using sliding frosted glass doors, we’re not sure why you would want to.
The room also has two other ‘zones’. One is a comfortable sitting area for relaxation.
The other is a work ‘zone’. In other words, a desk.
We found the bed very comfortable. The room has electrically adjustable window-shades for both daytime/privacy and blackout. The only way to extend or retract them was to hold the up or down button for the full amount of time it took for the operation of the blinds. No one push and done here. As there were four windows with two sets of independent operated blinds, this meant repeating the whole operation twice. At turndown, they did helpfully close the blackout blinds.
Back to the ‘open spa bathroom zone’. The hydra-spa bath is really the centerpiece of the room.
A towel carefully rolled up by housekeeping every time they were in the room made for a comfortable headrest while in the bath.
The shower has a number of jets mounted on the wall, a rainfall shower and handheld shower wand. While it seemed only possible to have two of these sources of water going at once, we were impressed by the water pressure. Amenities were the standard Hilton Peter Thomas Roth offering.
We notice a perceptible noise that came and went while we were in the room. At first we wondered why it was so windy outside. Then we realised that we were hearing the noise from the adjacent liftwell whenever a lift rushed past. This was the case despite the liftwell apparently being separated by a service corridor. In any event, the noise did not disturb our sleep.
We were a bit surprised to find an empty zip-lock bag when we opened the ice container. We left the container open and after turn down it was still there and there was still no ice.
The hotel’s wi-fi was speedy, something that is ordinarily particularly frustrating in Sydney hotels.
The hotel has recently replaced the flat panel screens in the rooms. However they have not yet adjusted the hotel information screens available on them to match the new resolution, resulting in them being difficult to read.
The hotel’s lobby is impressively designed.
One level up it leads to the hotel’s signature Luke Mangan restaurant, Glass.
Breakfast is also served at Glass. While we were staying they had set up tables outside the restaurant and a cordon (presumably to cope with the expected patronage).
Updated to add: Hilton D
iamond members have free breakfast at Glass, Hilton Gold members do not. Another top tip: the hotel charges a higher rate for a room with two guests than one so book for one and then insist at check-in that they modify your reservation to two guests using the Hilton benefit of second guest stays free.
Glass was packed for breakfast, with some guests dining on the side of the bar. We spied hotel General Manager Ronald van Weezel (formerly of the Hilton Brisbane) wandering around inspecting the service one morning.
The hotel charges extra for ‘barista coffee’. Given that breakfast is AU$42 a head, we find this extra charge disappointing.
A number of juices are available at breakfast.
In addition, a member of staff was running unusual combinations of fruits through the juicer to create a number of fresh offerings.
A good selection of cereals are available, as well as yoghurts and the like.
The hot buffet here is the most impressive part of breakfast. Everything was actually hot. This did mean that the serving utensils were warm to the touch because they were under the same heat lamps. For all of our travels, we always find it amazing when a breakfast buffet is hot. The Hilton Sydney should be commended specifically for this point.
Also out on the buffet was salad and cold cuts of meat.
With a very impressive fit-out and quality food and beverage options, the Hilton is an excellent choice in Sydney. However, it is an expensive hotel and service (particularly at check-in) does have some room for improvement.