best hotels in Sydney

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, Australia

There’s nothing quite like arriving home on a flight to Australia as the sun is rising. Right about the same time as breakfast service on the midnight run from Malaysia to Sydney, a fiery striation spans the horizon indicating the day’s inception. It reminds me of how expansive and beautiful this country is and I’m very thankful of my roots.
Beautiful Sydney
Biased or not, after two decades of international work and travel, Australia remains my most-adored country, and Sydney my most beloved city. Nature, architecture, fashion, food, arts and sports: its heart reverberates with something new, delicious, exciting or profound with every beat. Showcasing all that I love about the NSW capital is the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, The Yum List’s choice of stay.
Design director, Grace Lei Guo likens the property to that of a lighthouse standing strong at the head of the harbour, with the Horizon Club, the main viewing point, glowing “like the lamp” from the lanthorn. The 36 storey building, rising up from a hill in The Rocks, gifts guests with incredible views over the water including that of the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
Night View
Newly Refurbished Rooms
Only six months old, I’m stoked to stay in a recently refurbished Horizon Club room. Holding prime position on the upper six floors of the building, the 90 refreshed rooms overlook either Sydney or Darling Harbours – it’s water views all round.
Mirroring its home, a palette of light gold and ocean blue paints the room with contemporary flair. Pale timber furniture keeps to the city-by-the-sea theme of light and bright, while cherry blossom motifs on the walls remind guests of the brand’s Asian origins.
Fit with all the amenities you’d expect of the Shangri-La, our stay is more than comfortable. Lush L’Occitane bath products leave our hair and skin with a soft pleasant fragrance, while a high-powered hairdryer and magnified vanity mirror allow us to primp with ease. Slippers, robes, mini-bar and turndown service keep us pampered, and the latest in technology ensures connectivity and efficiency. iHome dock, Bluetooth media hub, multi-plug international sockets and complimentary WiFi are not only essentials for business travellers but for those wishing to stay connected during leisure travel too.
The room is large, and one thing I’ve appreciated in all Shangri-La properties is the separation of the spacious bathroom with an opaque door, minimizing disturbance of a partner who might still be sleeping. The marble bathroom also features a separate bath and shower and plenty of vanity space.
Welcome Tea

From the cushioned window seat in our Harbour View Room we take in the Opera House with fresh coffee from the espresso machine in the morning, awakening to the possibilities of the day ahead of us. With vistas such as these, we’re in no hurry to leave the hotel, and contemplate a while longer in the Horizon Club lounge.

The Largest (and arguably the best positioned) Club Lounge in Australia
The Horizon Club is Australia’s largest lounge in a five-star hotel, oozing style and sophistication after its multi-million dollar facelift. Adding punctuation to the analogy with a lighthouse is a dazzling brass and crystal LED chandelier. With giant rings reaching 3.5 metres in diameter, and weighing in at a whopping 600 kilograms, its brilliance can be seen from many points on the foreshore below. Thirteen metre high windows stretching four storeys showcase the gems of this treasure trove, and a beautiful brass telescope is provided for a closer look.
Horizon Club
Unlike standard club lounges where all seating is arranged into more intimate arrays, a striking four metre long communal table, topped with marble and based with solid timber, is an addition encouraging interaction. A chilled well running its length and filled with Aussie wines goes one step further in coaxing out the warm Aussie spirit.
Horizon Club Communal Table
Both sunrise and sunset can be captured from this vantage point and, no matter what time of day, the views are accompanied by gracious service and an evolving offering of food and beverage. A light buffet breakfast, non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day, afternoon tea, and drinks and canapés could do small eaters for the length of their stay.
Evening Cocktail Hours

Chef Bo Sorenson, head of Shayan Quarter at Café mix, encourages us to take a look at the wider selection available for breakfast downstairs. We do, and find some scrumptious treats, including the clever idea of allowing guests to do a bit of the grunt work in obtaining their brekkie with a hand operated machine for grinding whole groats into oats for porridge. The diversity downstairs is tempting, but what’s on offer in the lounge is of high quality, more than sufficient in range, and comes with that breathtaking outlook that we can’t seem to draw ourselves away from.

Baked Goodies are Something Special
Grind Your Own Breakfast Oats
Both Buffets Feature a Mouthwatering Spread of Baked Goods
In fact, the atmosphere and services in the Horizon Club are so pleasant that we could (and do) spend hours whittling away time here.
Food and Beverage
There’s no shortage of dining options within walking distance of the hotel, but the Shangri-La has a number of in-house alternatives that are as equally exciting as anything you’ll find up the road.
Honey – harvested from their own rooftop city bees
Shayan Quarter at Café mix offers a vibrant ‘street food’ menu inspired by Asian flavours and western cooking technique. You mustn’t miss an afternoon tea of exquisite small bites and desserts in the Shangri-La’s Traditional High Tea, while cocktail lovers should be sure to savour some well-executed concoctions in the magnificently located Blu Bar on 36. And, bound to be a highlight of any visit to Sydney is a degustation menu with wine pairing in the stunning Altitude Restaurant. Of course we’ve done a thorough investigation of all of these for our dear readers, so please click on the names of the restaurants to find photos, prices and recommendations of what to order in each location.
Asian Street Food with a Twist at Shayan Quarter at Cafe mix
Altitude Restaurant
If there were a spare moment, the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is more than adequately prepared with recreation opportunities. A health club and indoor heated swimming pool might assist in taming some of those calories previously (or predicted to be) consumed. The sauna, sun deck and CHI, The Spa are also at guests’ disposal when in need of some relaxation time. Our schedule is tight on this visit, so we don’t personally try any of the facilities (as you know we usually do). We do pop down though to inspect the areas. The gym appears well equipped and in good working condition, the wet amenities are clean and attractive, and the spa seems a heavenly spot to unwind.
Heated Indoor Swimming Pool
 Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, you frame this city with personal flair and style, but you are also an integral part of it, a valuable accent in its pulse. To you and this smashing city we will return.
Reasons to visit: stunning views of Sydney Harbour; convenient location in the heart of the city; signature Shangri-La service; some “must try” food and beverage options.
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
176 Cumberland Street
The Rocks
NSW 2000
+61 (0)2 9250 6000
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  1. Absolutely gorgeous, soothing and seriously dreamy!!! 🙂 🙂

  2. You have excelled yourself again.
    The introduction of returning home from overseas early in the morning
    on overseas flights. I think Qantas brings Australia home to you with
    that Peter Allen song as the plane approaches Sydney and you see in
    the distance our magnificent harbour etc – "I Still Call Australia, home".
    Brings tears to your eyes of joy and reminds you of just what we do have.

    Thank God the views from the Shangri-La, Sydney will never be blocked.
    Here when they built the Sheraton, now the Sofitel, the views from the top
    floors overlooked the bay area and out to sea. Now due to idiotic council
    planning all you see is a mass of tall office box complexes!!! Criminal I say.
    You could sit in the top bar and restaurant in Sheraton days – now a Sofitel Club members
    area for high paying guests ONLY and watch the pigeons, city ibis and city maddening crows fly
    past and poop!!!
    Not much comfort for over $500 plus a bloody night,eh???
    I shall now go back into weeping into my Nescafe early morning coffee!

    Yes we all still after our exotic trips – sing "We all call Australia home".
    Aussie blue of El Cordobes and the Sunshine Coast, Colin.
    PS: You do us proud, Monica and T.O.H, Cordobes Junior.

    • I swear that song runs through my head just about every time I come home!
      Have you heard about the concept of purchasing "air space" – where you buy the "air" above a building so that your view can never be built out? I don't know if or where this might be a practice but the idea is intriguing. Of course sensible town planning would just solve it all without the need for the invention of the likes of this idea.
      Thanks for the encouraging comments Colin! I do put a lot of work into these posts – it feels great to have them appreciated. (If I could write musical notes here my reply would end with a humm of the chorus of that song.)

  3. Such spectacular views! I would certainly love to visit there, and I need the blue things for my kitchen!

  4. Wow! Stunning night view! The sunrise & sunset pics are just as breathtaking. Ooooo….blue & white! I have a weakness for that! Love the basket too!

  5. Ah…the sunset view…stunning! From the same angle in your high tea post 😉

  6. I do like indoor swimming pool sometimes, especially during chilly season 😛

  7. That is a beautiful sunrise…great view there, must be lovely to see in reality..
    I like the strawberries…

  8. the horizon club room is amazing … love the look of the bed, and imagine waking up to that view 🙂

  9. Lovely view – a hotel stay doesn't can't get much more comfortable than this!

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