Crown Towers Sydney review: Hotel delivers the wow factor city has been missing

Our rating

5 out of 5

Take a look inside Crown Towers in the photo gallery above.

THE PLACE

There's rarely, if ever, been so much written about an Australian hotel - nearly all of it censorious and interrogative - as there has been about the new 275-metre-high Crown Towers Sydney, billed as the city's first genuine six-star hotel. But this is a hotel review, not an investigative report, so let's concentrate not on Crown's considerable and well-documented regulatory woes but on the establishment itself.

Whatever your view of James Packer, the troubled figure behind Crown, there's no doubt he and his team know how to pack a punch when it comes to both the hotel and the restaurant business. This new Sydney establishment, consisting of 349 rooms and villas, is a glittering and lavish demonstration of its world class expertise. If any expense was spared we didn't notice.

THE LOCATION

Now a dominant, some contend overly so, feature of a cluttered Sydney skyline, the twisting, cylindrical-shaped hotel stands like a massive glazed exclamation mark, conveniently uncrowded by other structures, at the northern end of the $2.2 billion Barangaroo precinct. This part of Sydney, on the western perimeter of the main CBD, was formerly a shipping container wharf that in recent years has been strikingly transformed into a cavernous corporate, residential and entertainment district.

THE SPACE

Crown Towers Sydney was conceived for more optimistic times that have been extinguished, at least for now, by the pandemic. It was designed to entice the lucrative, pre-COVID-19 mainland Chinese tourism market and fill a gap in Sydney for a genuine six-star hotel reminiscent of those in Asia. Sure enough, the moment you enter the light-drenched, white-marbled lobby - more compact due to the nature of its site than its Melbourne counterpart - you really could be in Singapore or Bangkok (and, my, do we wish we could be).

Aside from a dizzying array of design features, including a dazzling Czech-made bespoke chandelier, of sorts, with nearly 400 crystal-clad "blades" set in and around a white curling stairwell above the lobby, Crown's undoubted showstopper is its lavish infinity pool. It comes complete with resort-style private cabanas, day beds and poolside dining and is set on the edge of the Paris end of an at times dowdy Darling Harbour. It's a touch of Singapore-style Crazy Rich Asians in downtown Sydney, with the hotel's architect, Britain's Chris Wilkinson, having also designed the island state's landmark Gardens by the Bay attraction.

THE ROOM

Your blessed reviewer has been allocated a lavish 19th-floor suite with its fresh cream, grey and gold tones, though should you book one of the smaller entry point rooms you shan't be slumming it (not at $850 a night), with some featuring stand-alone "sculptured bathtubs" directly overlooking the harbour.

Our room's bath is tucked away inside the sizeable bathroom, but from the living room and bedroom there are spectacular and more than ample views of the Harbour Bridge and, if you position yourself in the right spot, a sneaky glimpse of the Opera House to boot. The suite features a large living room with a curved sofa, a dining table for four and a separate powder room (read second loo).

One of the intriguing features of the bedroom is a large, slightly arresting, angled structural column near to the window belonging to the building that's been encased in a bold mirrored finish.

THE FOOD

By our estimation you'd need a week, at least, to healthily sample all of the hotel's 14 eateries. Conforming to the winning Crown formula in Melbourne and Perth, ostentatious though quality cuisine is at the artichoke heart of the Sydney spinoff, with the redoubtable chef Guillaume Brahimi named as the hotel's ubiquitous culinary ambassador cum mascot.

Advertisement

Crown Sydney's restaurants range from the city's first Nobu, to Woodcut, a large open kitchen-style sensory experience by the multi-hatted veteran Ross Lusted and a'Mare, a northern Italian eatery (and a spinoff of Ormeggio on the edge of Sydney's Northern Beaches), with a penchant for theatre, like fresh basil ground in a font-like marbled mortar (made in Italy) atop a custom-built timber trolley (gelato gets the showy trolley-top treatment, too).

STEPPING OUT

We'd planned to include a stroll around the nearby Barangaroo Reserve, designed to replicate how the northern extremity of the site may have appeared in pre-European settlement times, but we were too occupied and indulged by Crown's dazzling attractions, as well as our fabulous suite, to venture out from the revolving door. That said, if you do have time to explore, near to the hotel is the CBD, The Rocks, Walsh Bay and, if you must, Darling Harbour.

THE VERDICT

Viva Las Sydney. Credit where credit is due, Crown Towers Sydney is the authentic wow factor international hotel, with matching room rates, heretofore missing from Australia's biggest city. The timing of its opening couldn't be more fraught, but Sydneysiders have already embraced it with gusto. Interstate visitors are sure to follow when the COVID-19 stop light turns green again (and one day international tourists will come, too, though don't count on the Chinese returning).

ESSENTIALS

Deluxe king rooms start from $850 per night. Crown Towers Sydney, 1 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney. Ph: 02 8871 6371. See crownsydney.com.au   

HIGHLIGHT

In all of the excitement we forgot to pack our togs with our stay too fleeting for much of a splash in the COVID-19 limited main pool anyway. A pity, since the pool is a stunner and the hotel's most breathtaking feature.

LOWLIGHT

Every new hotel suffers understandable teething pratfalls with ours including dusty windows, missing bathrobes, an already opened milk carton in the minibar and, curiously, no teaspoons that we could locate.

Anthony Dennis  was a guest of Crown Towers Sydney

See also: Crown Sydney has a nice shape, but 'little else' for the city

See also: Five of the best Sydney hotels for a staycation