Medusa Hotel, Sydney review: Bold and beautiful

Read our writer's views on this property below

The Medusa may have some cracks but there's still charm to the colourful hotel, writes Elicia Murray.

All the Botox in the eastern suburbs won't stop ageing on the inside. Just like a tres chic antler chandelier and a few angular bouquets at the entrance won't hide the fact Medusa is looking a little tired.

When the hotel opened 11 years ago in a heritage-listed Victorian terrace house on Darlinghurst Road, it was the height of travel cool. Decked out in clashing colour combinations inspired by 1950s Hollywood, it rocketed to the top of every hip-hotel list that mattered.

A decade on, it has the hotel equivalent of that little angry line between the eyebrows that appears even after a good night's sleep.

We are greeted at the door by a gorgeous young thing who later describes himself as "the dumb blond on reception".

He gives Plus One directions to the garage down the street – no parking in terraces – then leads me upstairs to a "grand" suite on the top floor.

"You've got the Rapunzel room," he says, opening the door and giving me a quick run-down on how everything works.

The word gaudy hardly does this room justice. A cobalt-blue padded bedhead sits against a lurid green wall broken up by squares of orange. This is dizzying enough but there's also a brown towelling bedspread with a wide strip in contrasting shades of brown and a main light that looks like a couple of Tupperware salad bowls mating.

Someone went to a lot of trouble decorating this room. I admire the effort but I struggle to appreciate the result.


Apart from the decor, the room is quite lovely. Afternoon sun streams through the window of an enclosed balcony with city skyline views. In the courtyard below is a water feature surrounded by deckchairs.

Rooms on the ground floor are pet-friendly, subject to a few rules: there are no discounts because the carpet is thoroughly cleaned after each pet stay and owners must accompany their pets at all times.

With the gentle trickling sound of the fountain outside, it is easy to slide into holiday mode, even though one of the tackiest club strips in Sydney is only 500 metres away.

Sadly, the bathroom is a let-down. The shower curtain is beige and suspended from a cable that runs the length of the bath. Tiny bugs have met their maker in the downlights and the grate over the exhaust fan could do with a soak.

In the main room, a floating cabinet hides a well-stocked bar fridge, kitchenette and small television on an extendable shelf. We open a bottle of bubbly and sit at a small table near the window, grazing on nibbles brought from home.

When the last drop of champagne has been drained, it's time to meet a friend at Bayswater Brasserie, where the bartender serves an off-the-menu concoction with a twist of orange rind. A quick drink somehow turns into another round, followed by some oysters, then another round and, much later, pork belly at Lotus, where the waiter kindly offers to keep the kitchen open if we order in 30 seconds flat.

Fully expecting to look like Medusa in one of her more horrific renderings when I wake, I am pleasantly surprised to feel more human than mythical beast. The same cannot be said for Plus One, so I offer to do the coffee run and grab some free newspapers and muffins from the lobby. The muffins, fresh each morning, are sublime. They're still warm and studded with raspberries. Danish pastries, croissants and muesli are available for a small charge or there are dozens of cafes within walking distance.

The tariff includes access to a gym and swimming pool not far away.

Age may have wearied Medusa but this lady still has a lot of spunk. Her mythical image is dotted around the hotel, from busts in the rooms to a faux Caravaggio near the reception desk. There are even toy snakes slithering out of the fireplace.

Sure, she could do with a freshen-up but when you've been raped by Poseidon, decapitated and had your beautiful hair turned into serpents, you probably have other things on your mind.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.


Medusa Hotel

Address 267 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst.

The verdict Despite signs of ageing, Medusa is still young at heart.

Price Double rooms from $170.

Bookings Phone 9331 1000 or see

Getting there Less than five minutes' walk from Kings Cross station. On-street parking is time-limited. Nearby Star Car Wash on Victoria Street offers a discount rate of $35 for guests.

Perfect for A cool and quirky break close to the heart of the Cross. BYO dog.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Check out the tiny but perfectly formed Cafe 9 at 9 Ward Avenue, Potts Point.