The name of this new kid on the block may ring a bell – but stop right there. This is not more of the same from Adina, a long-time provider of solid apartment hotels, perfect for that week away with the fam. In fact, the name is pretty much the only similarity this new luxury spinoff (plus its new sister property in Canberra) has with its parent brand. For a start, it's not all about the seriously cool apartments: its stylish and snappy Dean & Nancy on 22 bar with food by Jane Strode is destined to become a destination in itself.
Blink and you might miss the sign at the entry from Hunter Street, which is Sydney's CBD on steroids - even during COVID. This area is a hub for big-name restaurants and low-key favourites but it's also easy to head elsewhere. Wynyard Station and its portal to Barangaroo is around the corner as are the George Street trams, and a new metro station is in the works up the road. The Botanic Gardens, historic Macquarie Street and Circular Quay with its ferries to Manly are a walk away.
A by Adina sits across from Australia Square, once Sydney's tallest building and now a mid-sized retro landmark that provokes nostalgia, rather than gasps at its size. It also overlooks a revitalised network of laneways that are morphing into eat streets in a post-COVID revitalisation push by Sydney City Council.
There's drama in a big city at night, and A by Adina understands this, setting the perfect stage for a break from the mundane. This is what the swanky city apartment of your dreams should be, so go with it. The ruse begins on entry when you descend from street level, pass a flowing water wall and enter a quiet, low-lit foyer. Here, a concierge will greet you (of course! Your own doorman!) and escort you to the lifts enroute to the level 21 "Sky Lobby", which is all dark curves and classic lines with pops of gold and sweeping views of the city.
Through floor-length windows you can glimpse the pool where swimmers seem to glide between the skyscrapers. As intriguing as this is, your eyes will come to rest on a golden staircase across from the reception desk which promises, and later delivers, even better things on level 22 – home to Dean & Nancy. But first, your uptown apartment awaits via smart lifts that deposit you into corridors, that are again, quiet and low-lit.
The beauty of good design is that it creeps up on you without shouting its presence. It's only when I've been in my downtown city apartment (ie my studio executive room) for half an hour that I begin to appreciate how well it's been thought out. Enter the room through a galley kitchen with cooktop, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, toaster, espresso machine, kettle and good tea. A bar-fridge offers ready-mixed cocktails from Maybe Sammy plus wine, beer, soft drinks. Popcorn, chocolate, Darrell Lea liquorice and olives provide late-night temptations and they are all yours, gratis, up to a $20 limit.
On then to the grey-green lounge with pops of gold which is drenched in sunlight. Two walls of city views are made all the more interesting because the view is across from, rather than above or below the rooftops, meaning you see workers in windows, hidden gardens and intricate nooks. There's a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge just beyond the shimmering gold curves of the EY Sweeney skyscraper; trams deposit and fill below; the sandstone clock atop Shell House looks huge, and I get a close-up of the swinging 60s' Australia Square.
Later a flick of a switch and it's curtains for that view. The large Chromecast TV has simple remote instructions on screen as does the room thermostat. The good-sized carpeted bedroom separated by a sliding door has a king Dreamcatcher bed (available to buy) and again offers a bedside switch to operate the blinds, curtains and lights. There's another wall-mounted TV, robe and slippers, safe, ironing essentials, ample hanging space and drawers. The bathroom has a rainshower, hairdryer and Hunter Lab products. There's free Wi-Fi, a wireless charger and USB charging points.
From the Vietnamese pho place across the road, to Long Chim, to Restaurant Hubert, to the Rockpool Bar & Grill, to Hong Kong fast food at the Peninsula Canteen, to Mr Wong in Bridge Lane, to the soon-to-be-sorely-missed Frankie's pizza up the road - this area is food central. But why go out at all when executive chef Jane Strode is behind A by Adina's food offerings at Dean & Nancy on 22? Try the Fireball: Greek kataifi pastry wrapped around 'nduja and mascarpone, served with tomato jam and pickles; smoked eel and cauliflower bhaji , prawn risotto and Pinnacle Scotch fillet with chimichurri. And that's just for starters. An indoor-outdoor Italian eatery by Maurice Terzini, of Icebergs fame, is planned for the laneway area near the foyer opening onto Curtin Place.
So the Opera House, the Bridge, the Botanic Gardens, The Rocks … Sydney's headline acts are on your doorstep. But apartment life is all about knowing your 'hood, and Hunter Street has a lot happening.
First stop – and it could be your last for the night - is Dean & Nancy on 22. This bar from the team at the award-winning Maybe Sammy (maybesammy.com) in The Rocks (voted the 11th best bar in the world), is the one Sydney has been pining for. Frank Sinatra and Bruce Wayne would both be at home in this black and gold mix of glamour and Gotham with an art deco bar and golden orb lighting. There's a piano too, which could easily have Eartha Kitt or Michelle Pfeiffer stretched across it. The cocktails are seriously fun and include the Double or Nothing which includes a dice (roll a double and you score a champagne) and the 23rd & Broadway – a Wild Turkey Rye, macadamia and madeira cocktail topped by sandalwood incense smoking under a glass.
Hotel guests are also invited to The Daily Pause, a nightly cocktail experience as the sun sets over Sydney. And if you're in a bar-hopping mood, there are plenty of nearby hotspots to haunt. Try Tayim restaurant and bar (tayim.com.au) or The Doss House whisky bar (thedosshouse.com.au) at The Rocks, or the Door Knock bar (doorknock.com.au) hidden below Pitt Street, a two-minute walk away.
A by Adina only opened in May but is rapidly securing a name for style and substance, while Dean & Nancy on 22 is the bar Sydney didn't realise it was missing.
Jane Richards stayed as a guest of A by Adina.
The movie-star drama of that bar.
Giving those apartment keys back.