Primus Hotel Sydney
The hotel is on Pitt St, in that weird nowhere land between Bathurst and Liverpool Streets. The initials M.W.S. & D. Board above the gloriously big front doors are a reminder that, in a previous life, the 1939 art deco building was the headquarters of the Sydney Water Board. Following two years' restoration by Woods Bagot architects, it's now a 172-room, five-star hotel channelling '30s glamour.
Enter into a lobby of glossy marble floors, dramatic red eight-meter marbled columns and towering glass ceiling. The cocktail bar and hotel restaurant, The Wilmot, is also on ground level and a phone addict's heaven is a charging station at the concierge's desk. The six-storey hotel is topped by a rooftop bar and lap pool. While the gym is currently below deck, there are plans to set it in a glass box on the ample rooftop, so the world can watch you sweat. So Sydney.
My Deluxe King room looks down into the hotel's atrium, and is aimed squarely at the business exec. Trading natural light for silence, the internal room is very quiet. Ware: there is construction on the Bathurst St side, so light sleepers should steer clear. While the bedroom is super comfortable, with its smart, geometric designs, it's the bathroom that really pays homage to the art deco period. Lined in snappy black and white subway tiles, there's a deep bath, excellent shower and lotions by Sydney's own Appelles Apothecary. There are only nine suites, and all are booked out tonight and the super-luxe presidential and vice-presidential suites won't be finished until May.
The Wilmot restaurant is the domain of Korean-born chef Ryan Hong. Cancel all bookings and do the Australian-Asian menu tasting menu, at $100pp, with matching wines an additional $50. The menu includes Moreton Bay bug with edamame, peanut and watermelon, and a stand-out honey-glazed duck breast with shaved fennel and pickled apple. Hong, who hails from Korea's holiday hotspot, Jeju Island, describes the hand-caught South Coast abalone with seaweed, radish and turnip as his "hometown dish". Wines from sommelier Sebastian Armisen include a very forward-looking tannat from Topper's Mountain, in our own New England region. Mains on the a la carte menu hover around the $35 mark. Breakfast is as lavish as a five-star hotel breakfast should be, and my breakfast companion's request for a dairy, fruit and gluten-free meal are cheerfully and amply accommodated.
The hotel is a three-minute walk to Town Hall and Museum Stations, and about 10 minutes from Central. Chief Concierge David McLean recommends Assembly Bar for some well-constructed cocktails and a wood-fired bite in its new restaurant (488 Kent St). The happening Kensington Street food precinct in Chippendale is about 20 minutes' walk. Check out Kopi-Tiam Spice Alley (18-20 Kensington St, Chippendale), while newcomer Juicy Lucy will get you licking your fingers for so-hot-right-now Thai-style chicken (232A Elizabeth St, Surry Hills), from the people who brought you Sugarcane and Mr Crackles.
If you've got the means, the suites are the way to go. Otherwise, the highlight of this hotel is the rooftop, a rare creature in Sydney. Pack the swimmers for a dip in the heated 20m pool and order a glass of sparkling. So what if a hundred apartments are looking down on you? Show 'em how to live.
The Primus Hotel Sydney has an opening special from $290, available until June 30, 339 Pitt St, Sydney. Phone (02) 8027 8000, see primushotelsydney.com.
Belinda Jackson was a guest of Primus Hotel Sydney.
LOWLIGHT Despite the grandeur of the lobby, it's deathly quiet.
HIGHLIGHT Sunset drinks at the rooftop pool and bar and the excellent tasting menu.