Weekend Away: Intercontinental Sydney review

Read our writer's views on this property below

Rachael Oakes-Ash does some serious relaxing at the Intercontinental Sydney.

THE SETTING

Thirty-one modern floors rise above the refurbished and heritage-listed three-storey Treasury Building built in 1851. The Treasury forms an impressive old-world exterior with an internal atrium that forms the hotel's foyer and dining destinations. Skipping distance to the harbour foreshore, the Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Opera House and all that Sydney's CBD has to offer, the Intercontinental has some of the best rooms-with-a-view in Sydney and a wraparound terraced private rooftop lounge for Club guests.

THE SPACE

The lobby check-in is understated and belies the heritage colonnades and atrium discovered once you enter the centre of the ground floor. The hotel has 509 guest rooms and 28 suites but the split between the atrium Cortile courtyard and those who have club rooms and therefore access to the club lounge on the top floor ensure it never feels crowded. You won't find the glitz and pizazz of modern look-at-me five-star hotels; the feeling is more of a luxury accommodation club than a state-of-the-art hotel. There is an indoor pool and well-equipped gym. The hotel lacks a day spa but there is a massage centre and hair salon.

THE KIT

We bed down in an East Harbour View executive room. Two double beds sit side by side and a plush window ledge seat has views over the Botanic Gardens, Woolloomooloo and out to the heads. The room is, again, understated, but modern and spacious with burgundy and neutral hues, though the bathroom decor needs updating. The mini bar has the usual chocolates and chips fare and turn-down comes with complimentary bottled water. Housekeeping and front desk are friendly and kind and do everything with a smile.

COMFORT FACTOR

My stressed-out mother-of-five girlfriend and I have come to escape the madness of our lives and the Club Lounge offers the true comfort. Through the wraparound windows we watch cruise liners dock, tourists climb the bridge, crowds congregate on the Opera House stairs, and boats sail towards the heads in the twilight. A group of Hollywood VIPs talk shop in one corner and a local couple celebrate an anniversary in the other. We stay here all day.

FOOD

Dress up for Cafe Opera for degustation dining under sandstone arcades or mammoth arched windows. Paleos will love The Meat & Wine Co and not just for the leather and stone interiors; the menu showcases some of Australia's best beasts. At the end of a day out put your feet up for high tea at Cortile in the central courtyard. With Club Lounge access we choose to spend breakfast gazing out to sea with an impressive buffet. The lounge also serves an a la carte menu. Canapes and drinks are complimentary between five and seven each evening. Some of Sydney's best restaurants (Quay, Aria, Mr Wong) are all in walking distance should you choose to leave.

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

Put on your walking shoes and head through the Botanic Gardens to the Domain and on to the NSW Art Gallery, walk back around Lady Macquarie's Chair and past the Opera House back to Macquarie Street and the hotel. Tired? Then just walk across the road to the Museum of Sydney. Energetic? Head to the Museum of Contemporary Arts in The Rocks and then climb the Harbour Bridge with Bridgeclimb. Shopping addiction? Westfield Sydney and the luxury brand brigade are a couple of blocks away.

THE VERDICT

An understated hotel with excellent service and stunning views, it will provide a reminder to staying Sydneysiders of our city's international stature. Spend the money on a club room for the Club Intercontinental access.

HOW TO GET THERE

The Circular Quay train station and ferry terminal is in walking distance. If you're driving, the hotel has parking at $45 a day, enter off Phillip Street.

ESSENTIALS

Rooms start from $350 for a standard room. Internet is $25 for 24 hours or free for Elite IHG Reward Club Members. Internet is free in the Club Intercontinental lounge. 117 Macquarie Street, Sydney, phone 9253 9000, see interconsydney.com.au.

The writer was a guest of the Intercontinental Sydney