This is Swissotel’s only hotel in the entire Oceania region. Opened in 1999 within one of Sydney’s central business district’s (CBD) numerous heritage buildings, the hotel is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019.
Where is it?
Right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD on Market Street, across from a number of notable landmarks, including the historic Queen Victoria Building. Sydney’s The Rocks neighbourhood of historic laneways on the harbour is about 20 minutes’ walk away, with the Sydney Opera House on the other side of Circular Quay beyond the Royal Botanic Gardens and Government House – also all reachable on foot. A straight five-minute walk from St James Station down Market Street will land you right outside the hotel.
What’s it like?
Don’t let its growing age fool you; the hotel has been refurbished in the two decades since it opened, most recently in 2015, and features a contemporary, streamlined design with plenty of modern features. While it certainly carries the Swiss name as well as the Accorhotels brand’s Swiss-inspired hospitality, the Swissotel Sydney is definitely an Australian hotel at heart, from its F&B to its service style. The property’s main colour scheme is a range of blacks, whites, greys and dark wood brown – which could come across as bland, but happily the style choices the hotel has gone for lend themselves more to a “modern Scandinavian” interpretation over a mere monochrome feel.
Swissotel Sydney has 369 guestrooms, starting with the 30-sqm Premier Rooms and going up to the 66-sqm Signature Skyline Suite. I was in a 34-sqm Swiss Executive Room on the 24th floor. All non-suite rooms are between 30 and 38 sqm.
Coupled with the hotel’s relatively minimalist design, this gives you a notable amount of cat swinging space. The wardrobe has been imbedded into the wall and the wall opposite the bed features just a TV, cabinet with the minibar, and tea- and Nespresso coffee-making facilities. For working, there is a wide white table by the window with a Handy-branded smartphone that guests can use inside and outside of the hotel. There’s also a leather lounger to lie on if you’ve had a long day.
One strike against the hotel’s rooms is that all plugs are Australian rather than universal – the property’s guests are 80 per cent domestic, a member of staff informed me. This does make it frustrating if you have multiple devices you want to keep charged at once and only one universal adapter; however, the hotel does also provide one at the minibar that can be taken home for A$18 (U$S12.9). The bedside table has USB ports – great for charging your phone if you use it as an alarm clock – but they are curiously absent by the work desk.
Bathrooms have a separate bath and shower with amenities from the company’s Purovel brand of Swiss-made bath products, though a dental kit – something I firmly believe should be standard in hotel rooms – is notably absent. Importantly, the shower is easy to work and offers plenty of power.
From a room service standpoint, the Swissotel Sydney has something I have yet to find anywhere else: the ability to order ingredients and basic bartending gear up to your room allowing you to craft your own mixers and cocktails in your room. Great if you don’t fancy sauntering down to the bar by yourself.
Also, I must tip my hat to the housekeeping staff who felt compelled to provide me with a great handful of Lindt chocolates each time they came to the room.
If you do fancy a drink, however, one option without too many other patrons is the Executive Club Lounge on Level 9. If you’re coming in from ground level, you’ll need to switch lifts at the lobby on Level 8 and head over to the guestroom lifts to go up one more floor – taking the ground floor lift straight up to Level 9 will take you to the property’s residences instead.
The lounge is spacious without being huge, and I never found it difficult to locate a seat. Within the lounge is a small library-style room with additional tables and chairs, which is a little quieter. If you’re there at breakfast (6.30am to 10.30am), you’ll find a decent selection of hot dishes such as poached and scrambled eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, sausages and bacon, as well as breads, cold cuts, fruit, cereals and a coffee maker. In the evening, the lounge offers pre-dinner drinks and evening canapes, while teas, coffee and cold beverages are available throughout the day.
Food and drink
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the hotel’s all-day eatery, JPB. The hotel’s Irish-born executive chef has developed a menu that features native Australian produce, with a standout dish being the avocado and blue crab entrée. Dinner starts at 5.30pm and includes a set menu offering a combination of either two or three dishes from entrées, mains and desserts, and comes with a glass of red or white wine. On the drinks side, the hotel’s Crossroads Bar serves wines by the glass, house spirits, beers, ciders and cocktails, with happy hour running from 5pm to 7pm Monday to Friday.
The hotel also has a few of its own-brand products on the F&B front. For starters, it runs a beehive on the roof that supplies the hotel with its own, freshly made honey. This not only goes into dishes such as the granola served at breakfast, it is also used at the property’s Crossroads Bar in its gin, which is made specially for the Swissotel Sydney by local distiller Archie Rose.
Level 10 is home to the hotel’s outdoor heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi. While technically not on a rooftop, the pool is on an outdoor deck (complete with deck chairs), making it a nice spot to relax if you’ve got time during the day. The pool is open from 5am to 9pm, so unfortunately a late-night swim isn’t possible. The hotel’s fitness centre shares the same opening hours, meaning you’ll have to stick to early morning rather than late evening workouts.
Also attached to the fitness centre is the spa, offering a range of treatments including the hotel’s Purovel Signature Massages. This, unfortunately, has even tighter hours – 9am until 7pm – so you’ll need to block off a chunk of time during the day if you want to get a treatment, which could prove difficult. That being said, if you’re looking for something a little less involved, the changing rooms do feature their own saunas.
While location is likely the hotel’s main selling point, friendly service and modern design shouldn’t be underestimated and the property has plenty of both. There are a few small negatives, mainly as regards convenience such as opening hours for the leisure facilities, but they’re not sufficient to severely affect the quality of a stay. A solid hotel that I’d happily recommend.
Best for… Central location and very warm service
Don’t miss… Ordering a create-your-own cocktail up to your room
Price Internet rates for a stay in a Swiss Executive Room in mid-April begin at A$489 (US$351)