Ovolo Woolloomooloo review: How the No.1 Australian hotel on TripAdvisor stacks up

Our rating

4 out of 5

The place

Ovolo Woolloomooloo

The location

The Ovolo sits on Finger Wharf, one of the oldest timber wharfs in the world. Once a busy cargo dock, the waterfront space has now been transformed into a collection of hip bars and restaurants. There's also a marina where you can catch a boat cruise on to the harbour. To the west, the hotel is separated from the CBD by Sydney's stunning Botanic Gardens, while south-east is the city's famous nightlife district, Kings Cross. Woolloomooloo is a bit of a dead zone for train transport, with Kings Cross and Martin Place the nearest stations.

The space

Originally built in 1915 as a facility for wool export, many of the original features of the building remain, with exposed beams, timber flooring and bale chutes. The centre of the building is an open space with the 100 rooms running down either side across five levels. The hotel bar and restaurant, Alibi, fills the ground level space along with a games area and some booths with pull-down blinds for privacy. There are plenty of funky touches, from a variety of pop-art to the cute uniforms of the bellmen. Fitting with the rock'n'roll style of the hotel, there are two suites dedicated to Australian rock icons, AC/DC and INXS, each with a themed look and feel. There's a gym and indoor pool, and bicycles are available for guests to use.

The room

I'm in one of the loft suites, a split-level, long room with a large living area complete with an L-shaped couch large enough to accommodate six or seven people. There's a three-seater breakfast table and toilet on the lower level. Upstairs on a mezzanine is the king-size bed with a second wall-mounted TV and the obligatory pillow menu. Artworks feature abstract and pop designs, with a spray painted image of Sir Archibald, and the bedhead features bright orange fish. The bathroom is compact, to the point where it feels somewhat claustrophobic with the door closed, but the shower is spacious and there are robes and slippers.

One disadvantage of the loft suite is the rooftop skylights, which let in a lot of light once the sun rises and don't seem to close.

As with other Ovolos, the mini bar is complimentary and features beer, wine and soft drinks, along with a bag of snacks. There's also a tablet containing hotel information and recommendations for the surrounding area. Another Ovolo standard is Amazon's Alexa, the voice-activated personal assistant can provide news and weather updates or play music through the room's Bluetooth speaker.

The food

Alibi, the hotel's plant-based restaurant, is a popular spot and reservations are recommended if you want to secure a table. The vegan menu is a revelation, with items such as a macadamia, watermelon and seaweed poke bowl and kimchi dumplings, meaning even a carnivore like myself barely misses the lack of meat.

Read Good Food's full review of Alibi here.

Another Ovolo staple is complimentary breakfast for all guests, which in this case is a buffet featuring typical continental items along with cold meats, hard-boiled eggs and hash browns.

Advertisement

Stepping out

Circular Quay, with the iconic Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, is about a 20-minute walk north-west from the hotel, but the journey is just as pleasant as the destination. The walk to Circular Quay from Woolloomooloo is directly through the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens. The 30-hectare site was established more than 200 years ago and offers spectacular views of the harbour. There are free guided walking tours daily at 10.30 from the Garden Shop. See rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

Essentials

Rooms at the Ovolo Woolloomooloo start from $329 a night. See ovolohotels.com.au/ovolowoolloomooloo/

The verdict

TripAdvisor named the Ovolo Woolloomooloo the No.1 hotel in Australia in its 2019 Travellers' Choice Awards. I wouldn't go as far as that, but it is a very cool place to stay or just to hang out in. The included extras are a great bonus. 

Highlight

It's the vibe, your honour.

Lowlight

Some minor design flaws, such as the skylights, which you often find in converted buildings.

Craig Platt stayed a guest of Ovolo.

See also: Australia's and the world's best hotels named in annual TripAdvisor awards

See also: Aussie hotels where 'everything in the room should be yours'