This hotel opened last year in an eye-popping 20-storey building with loopy curves and surprising angles that keep guests talking long after leaving, and lure others to stop, gawk and feed their Insta needs. The 90-room hotel with infinity pool is part of the $575 million Infinity development that includes apartments, dining and retail outlets and a yet to be completed convention centre, all smack bang in inner-city Green Square, the first new town centre designed in Sydney in 100 years.
If ever a site demanded a hotel design be not just outside the box, but to play with the whole idea of a box, it's Green Square, the urban redevelopment that has injected a buzz into this former industrial area four kilometres south of the CBD that takes in parts of Zetland, Alexandria, Waterloo, Rosebery and Beaconsfield.
The hotel is minutes from the new Green Square train station that can whizz you directly to the airport or one stop to Central. But there's also plenty at the hotel's front door, including the award-winning subterranean City of Sydney Library with its six-storey rainbow-lit glass tower and sunken garden.
Green Square will take time to grow into its surrounds but the number of people in its restaurants and heading to and from work, gyms, the library and the café/bar with live entertainment – all on a Monday night during a pandemic - augurs well, as does the area's environmental street cred. It was awarded a 6-star communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia, the highest possible rating, denoting "world leadership" in the areas of governance, liveability, economic prosperity, environment and innovation.
There are two types of buildings. Happy buildings – and well, those others, says Crown Group chief executive Iwan Sunito, the man behind the Infinity project and the Koichi Takada Architects-designed hotel. Happy buildings, he says, are not only functional, but prompt people inside and out to stop and appreciate an angle, a view, or a curve.
I think of these words poolside as I watch blue sky and puffy white clouds become frozen in the building's view-finder "hole" and there are many other moments when curves and symmetry give us cause to pause. Skye suites are accessed through a discreet doorway in a retail plaza to a lift. In order to get to the pool, spa and gym you'll need to come back down in the lift, cross the plaza, and enter a separate lift.
The two-bedroom apartment is light and spacious with minimalist decor. The dining/lounge area has a wall-mounted smart TV and the kitchen is well-equipped with European appliances, pod coffee and good teas. A balcony runs outside the living room and bedroom – who knew a view of a library could be so entrancing?
Philip Jeffries signature wallpaper sits above the Sleeping Duck bed; there's a second wall TV in one bedroom and a Staycast system enabling guests to stream their own content. There's plenty of wardrobe space for longer getaways, robes, slippers, hairdryer and internal laundries. The bathroom has a high-pressure shower but no bath.
Green Square is an apartment hub and so it already has what new urban developments crave: people out and about commuting, shopping, enjoying the sun, eating – or heading to that award-winning below-ground City of Sydney Library which offers computer game consoles and music scores as well as books. It also has a music room with a grand piano, recording equipment, electric guitars and keyboard.
Green Square will soon house two more attractions: an urban beach in the form of the biggest aquatic centre built in the country since the 2000 Olympics, and the Drying Green, 6200 square metres of green space with a name nodding to the area's textile industry past.
There are good local restaurants and Erskineville, Redfern and Carriageworks are just a walk or bike ride away. And hotel guests can now visit the nearby Archie Rose Distillery for a tour and tasting as part of a special package.
A bite is as close as a lift-ride to the plaza downstairs. Try Nam2 south-east Asian restaurant and bar for lime pink salt chicken wings and a mean margarita or the Butcher and the Farmer (temporarily closed when we visited).
Social Society Sydney is the go-to breakfast and lunch haunt and Insta favourite that is about to open for dinners. A taste? Try the share plates, like smoked and baked cauliflower florets with béchamel sauce, Gruyere cheese and pangrattoto or the bone marrow - beef shank bone, herb and pickled eschalot salad and charcoal garlic toast. And there's always truffled fries with parmesan.
Striking ideas being put into practice have been bubbling away at Green Square for a while now and the results make it worth a visit. SKYE Suites are perfect for a staycation. And for some inspiration, the high-speed Wi-Fi also makes this an ideas-inducing, work-away-from-home option if you feel the need to escape your four walls.
Rooms from $165 a night
8 Tweed Place, Zetland (02) 8317 3088. See skyegreensquare.com.au
Drive & Dream package: From $240, includes accommodation, parking, breakfast for two, complimentary minibar, late checkout.
Spirits in the SKYE package: From $209, includes accommodation, parking, late checkout, tickets to Archie Rose Distillery tour and tasting.
The design, innovation, and out-of-the box surrounds.
The curved poolside seating is pleasing to the eye but not that relaxing to lounge on.
See also: visitnsw.com