Park Hyatt Sydney, review: White sails in the sunset

Restrained simplicity ... an Opera Deluxe room with two balconies.
Restrained simplicity ... an Opera Deluxe room with two balconies. 

Read our writer's views on this property below

With a personal Angel, Katrina Lobley settles into the revamped Park Hyatt Sydney.

Turning up at the Park Hyatt Sydney with no luggage wasn't intentional. I always meant to go home and fetch some. But when I step from my car after driving a few kilometres from home, inform the valet there's no bag and he doesn't blink, it's oddly liberating. I bounce into the lobby with a spring in my step, as though I'm starring in a shampoo commercial.

Slightly disorganised types like me need a multipurpose outfit that's suited to any occasion. Originally my ensemble - knee-length skirt, lightweight turtleneck (both wrinkle-resistant) and medium heels - was meant to get me through a tour around the hotel, which has undergone an 11-month, $65-million internal reconfiguration, rooftop additions and top-to-bottom makeover. Back in my room, I'd don a bathrobe for my spa appointment and re-dress to nip home, feed the dog and pick up an overnight bag.

I'm escorted through serpentine corridors to my room (Opera Deluxe, $1200 a night, with two balconies looking directly to the Opera House, albeit with the front end of a mega-cruise-ship blocking out the smallest of the Opera House sails). One of the changes introduced with the hotel's revamp is the appointment of a butler (male or female, whichever you prefer) to every guest, no matter which room category is booked. Mine goes by the improbable name of Angel, and she would be happy to run out and fetch a coffee from my favourite Sydney barista, if I were that particular about my coffee, buy me an outfit, organise show tickets, serve me dinner in-room and press my clothes, had I brought any.

Angel shows me around my 75-square-metre expanse and demonstrates how everything works, from the Bose sound system that broadcasts tunes from an iPod or smartphone, to how to find the music channel on the flat-screen TV if you're still carrying a Nokia circa 2002.

The bathroom has a timber sliding partition - a subtle reminder of the hotel's Japanese ownership - that allows you to sit in the bathtub with its marble surrounds and absorb the brilliant view across Circular Quay. One smart touch in the bathroom is a clock sitting on the vanity; the Toto toilet, with heated seat, is in another separate room.

Earthy, neutral tones are used throughout the room and the overall impression is one of restrained simplicity, with hints of masculinity in the repeated boxy shapes of furniture and fittings. A circular dining table doubles as a work desk, evidence of the design ethos, applied throughout, that the hotel should be a guest's "home on the harbour". This continues with small gestures such as placing stacks of books not only in guest rooms but in public areas such as the Living Room - an all-day dining area tucked behind the check-in desk. Even the naming of these areas is consciously casual - the restaurant headed by executive chef Andrew McKee, for instance, is called simply the Dining Room.

I take a look at the rooftop 10-metre pool, which grants an unusual angle to the Harbour Bridge (a black-and-white snap of the landmark features on room keycards), and a hot tub is placed to take advantage of a sly view past the three penthouse suites to the Opera House (the reconfiguration has resulted in the total number of rooms and suites dropping from 158 to 155, but an increase in the number of suites from eight to 11).

I'm due in the Spa for a 90-minute diamond divine signature facial ($350 weekdays, $385 weekends and public holidays) using products from the luxury Spanish brand Natura Bisse.

Multiple potions, peels and masks are applied and removed as I lie on the heated table and ponder whether I really do need to pack an overnight bag to get me through dinner (with one person) and breakfast (with another). I decide I'm going to check the bathroom amenities when I return to my room and, if I can get away with it, I'm not packing anything.

The facial seems to work wonders - I think I look at least six months younger. But then I step on something tiny and sharp on my way out, resulting in a spot of first-aid with Band-Aids and horrified apologies all round.

Both glowing and hobbling, I return to my room to peruse the amenities boxes, laid out like a jigsaw puzzle in the bathroom drawer. There are toothbrush and toothpaste, razor, loofah, sewing kit and so on, in addition to a range of Le Labo's Bergamote 22 toiletries from New York. The only thing I'll really need to fetch is a comb (in hindsight, I could have asked Angel).

I slip back to the valet for my car, feed the pooch her dinner at home and return for mine at the Dining Room. McKee, a Wagga-raised lad, pops out of the kitchen to introduce a degustation tasting of his a la carte menu. My favourite of the eight dishes is easily a fall-apart beef brisket with paper-thin beetroot slices, horseradish creme and watercress. Tonight, his food is competing with a rather large and hard-to-ignore distraction - the mega-liner is about to glide out of the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Flashes pop from around the shoreline and even from within the Dining Room we can hear the throaty rumble of engines. The ship toots its horn and the American diners at the next table turn and tell us their own cruising stories.

Before retiring, I press a bedside button to lower the black-out screens on the floor-to-ceiling windows. When my alarm goes off at 7am, I raise them again to a sight so spectacular that I leap out of bed for my camera.

There is a brilliant collection of new artworks placed throughout the hotel, including large-scale sandstone carvings by G.W. Bot and abstract landscapes by painter Tim Johnson - but all that is eclipsed by what nature can do when she feels like it. An intensely coloured sunrise has thrown the Opera House sails into silhouette, glancing off ferries entering the quay and revealing a different cruise ship parked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Even though it's barely light, joggers are crawling around the harbour edges, taking in this vista as if they're completely accustomed to it.

Just when you think you know your own city, it can still turn around and surprise you.

Katrina Lobley stayed courtesy of the Park Hyatt Sydney.

Park Hyatt Sydney, at 7 Hickson Road, has 144 rooms and 11 suites, costing from $795 a night for a city harbour king or twin. See sydney.park.hyatt.com.