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Lucy Turnbull, head of the Greater Sydney Commission and former lord mayor, once said western Sydney "needs a better hotel". Fast forward two years, and Parramatta's longest standing hotel, PARKROYAL Parramatta is now one of the prime hotels in Sydney's west after a recent $25 million refurbishment which saw the addition of new rooms, and its first Club Lounge and Club Rooms. Located in the heart of Sydney's second city, 40-minute drive from the CBD, the hotel is with metres of Parramatta's vibrant hub of restaurants, bars and cafes.
The hotel celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, marking the milestone with a $25 million renovation reopening. The refurbishment saw a complete redesign of the entrance, lobby, restaurant and lounge area, and the addition of art installations from local artists, including Christopher Hodges. New rooms were added as well as the introduction of the hotel's first Club Lounge and Club Rooms. The "new" 286-room PARKROYAL Parramatta has done away with the browns and beiges of the 2000s and the tired hotel circular driveway, swapping it for a bright, airy and modern hotel focused on good service and experience without comprising its vibrant neighbourhood feels.
All Club Rooms are located in a new section of the hotel which still has that fresh carpet smell. I'm staying in a king size clubroom (30 square metres) which fits the definition of modern luxury, minus a bath tub (the hotel does offer rooms with bath tubs, unfortunately mine comes sans bath tub). The spacious room is so well designed it's hard to pick a feature that could have been better thought out or positioned better elsewhere. Touches such as marble-table tops, black chrome finishes, and dark and white shades set a tone of luxury. The bathroom is generous in size and features a glass panel window which allows more natural light in the bathroom. The room features an armchair and reading lamp, along with the executive style desk and chair, but my favourite would have to be the amount of wardrobe and shelf space – and, of course, the firm mattress. I'm told each new room had been trialled and tested by staff before reopening, and by the condition of my room, they were very thorough.
Club Room guests are offered complimentary drinks and canapes from 5pm to 7pm daily, with a buffet-style selection of hot food, mezzanine plates of cold meats and cheeses perfect for grazing, and nice selection of local wine. Lounge staff are friendly and happy to have a conversation with you as they top up your glass, a nice evening touch especially if you're travelling on your own. The canapes may not be enough to fill you up, in which case, it's worth heading out to Church Street, Parramatta's main strip of restaurants and cafes, which offer anything from cheap eats to pricier options; from Japanese to Italian, and, of course, Messina. I head to Emporium to dine on grilled scallops in their cosy courtyard. Breakfast at the lounge is substantially better, with brekkie goodness comprising of bacon, eggs and whole roasted cherry tomatoes on a stem, to healthier options of cereal, yoghurt and fruit, and for those with a sweet tooth, a small selection of pastries, and a decent cup of coffee.
There's plenty of shopping to do at the nearby Parramatta Westfield, but for a cultural experience, head to the Parramatta River. The river walk is a great way to learn about area from its Indigenous and colonial history, to modern-day Parramatta. You'll also walk away with a better understanding of why eels are so significant to the area beyond the Parramatta Eels rugby team. You can also watch a show at The Riverside Theatre, or spend the day, like many locals, chilling out beside Parramatta River, even taking a ferry ride into Circular Quay.
Long overdue, the redesign has restored a sense of modernity, fun and sophistication to this Parramatta hotel. The Club Rooms are the newest hotel rooms on the block, resetting the idea of luxury in Sydney's west.
PARKROYAL Parramatta, 30 Phillip St, Parramatta NSW 2150. Rates start from $155 a night for a Standard Room, from $230 a night for a Club Room, including Club Access. Phone 02 9689 3333, see parkroyalhotels.com/en/hotels-resorts/australia/parramatta
The new Club Rooms were luxurious, comfy but not over-the-top. I would have been content not to leave the room.
There's no spa and the outdoor pool area is in need of a refresh to keep in step with the rest of the hotel.
The writer was a guest of PARKROYAL Parramatta.