Before an "e" was popped in front of "mail", grand general post offices from the 19th and early 20th centuries provided a variety of essential services for major cities. Even today they still serve as the official point from which road distances are measured.
But as their once-immense importance was eroded by the latter-day technological and communications revolution, these huge buildings, in search of a new purpose, were inevitably converted to luxury hotels – and just as well, too.
Now the Asia-based Fullerton Hotels and Resorts group, owner of the Sydney GPO, is putting its stamp on the beloved 1874 landmark designed by colonial architect James Barnet. The longstanding 416-room Westin Sydney was this week replaced by the Fullerton Sydney moniker.
As part of the re-badging of the property, which includes a contemporary hotel tower connected to the Italian Renaissance palazzo-style GPO, the heritage-minded Fullerton group is introducing unique guided historical tours.
The free 90-minute tours, which will be launched on November 1, will showcase the building's precious heritage features as well as the stories of the people who worked in the building over the 130 or so years it served as the headquarters for Australia's postal service.
The new heritage tours, which will be available to hotel guests and the public, will complement those already conducted at Singapore's imposing former GPO, which was built in 1928, and is also owned and operated by Fullerton as a five-star hotel.
Oh, and you guessed it: members of the public in this hi-tech day and age are recommended to email, not snail mail, their booking requests for the Fullerton Sydney's heritage tours.
Exclusive tours for hotel guests will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 10am while members of the public can join the tours on Fridays and Saturdays at 11.45am. Group numbers are limited, with bookings to be made through the hotel concierge by email (email@example.com). See fullertonhotels.com