The Ultimo review, Sydney: What's it like to stay in the world's first astrology hotel

Our rating

3.5 out of 5

The location

Located in Sydney's Chinatown district, The Ultimo Hotel, formerly Aarons Hotel, owned and operated by Australian boutique hotel group 8Hotels, is the world's first astrology hotel. The hotel is the perfect gateway to experience and explore Sydney's Chinatown district. It's within walking distance to Ultimo, Sydney's education enclave, waterfront Darling Harbour, some of the city's best and cheapest places to eat, and within minutes' access to buses, light rail stops, and Central train station.

The space

The boutique hotel is the newest themed hotel in Sydney, with 1888 Hotel opening in Sydney in 2013 as an Instagram hotel. Refurbished in October 2016, The Ultimo sits within a heritage listed building which features 95 rooms across seven room categories, including Ultimo Single to Ultimo Courtyard. Curated with astrologer Damian Rocks, the hotel offers guests travel guides on where to eat and drink and things to see and do based on your sign. There are zodiac-themed 'Do not disturb' signs, slippers in matching zodiac designs as well as monthly updated horoscopes on the website. There's also a selection of astrolo-tea to match your zodiac sign, an astrology library, complimentary Wi-Fi and a coffee station that opens from 6.30am. The hotel has a modern industrial look and feel with exposed brick and beams and there's no gym, pool, lounge area or restaurant on site. It's been designed with modern travellers in mind, those who are more interested in exploring the city than being in a hotel room. And with its central location, it's a good spot to drop off your bags and head out to see what the Sydney city buzz is all about.

The room

The king studio is spacious, has a high ceiling and is bigger than some residential studios in Sydney. The room has that new hotel smell and touch; fresh carpets, new paint job, a new bathroom, and is designed very much along the style of modern apartment living. There's a king-size bed, a living area with a small dining table, smart TV and a sofa which folds out into a bed – the room can cater up to four guests. There are no wardrobes in the room, just a clothes rack. There are two large double-layered windows offering plenty of light, though don't always keep out the street noise. There are some prints on the wall (which reminds me of Joan Miró works) that match the room's white and muted pastel themes. The toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soap bar, are animal and eco-friendly products. The room is comfy and feels very much like an apartment; a nice space to escape from the bustle of Chinatown when you need.

The food

There's no restaurant on site; the idea is to get out and explore the city's best eats. The hotel has a partnership with cafe Jamaica Blue, a few metres from the hotel, which it sends guests to for breakfast (breakfast is not included in the standard room rate). The breakfast menu at Jamaica Blue offers the usual, including muesli, toast and eggs, the coffee is decent and the cafe is rather a cute oasis from the busy streets. I rather enjoy having a hotel breakfast at a cafe instead of a hotel restaurant. For dinner, I follow the advice on my star sign guide which leads me to a authentic and delicious Thai restaurant, Caysorn Thai, and the to The Glenmore Hotel for rooftop drinks.

Stepping out

The hotel is surrounded by plenty of things to see and do. There's Paddy's markets which opens Thursdays to Sunday if you like to pick up some souvenirs, Chinatown, which runs night food markets on Fridays and Saturday nights, and Central Park, a new shopping and apartment complex, one suburb over. It's a short bus or train ride into Sydney's shopping precinct, Pitt Street Mall, or to Sydney Harbour and the Rocks area around Circular Quay, and two to three stops on the lightrail to arrive at Darling Harbour where the new ICC is located. Darling Harbour is also one of the main locations for the annual Vivid Sydney Festival.

The verdict

If you aren't a keen astrological being, The Ultimo's convenient location and affordable price point makes it an attractive option.

The essential

The hotel offers a number of Astro packages; the Star Charts packages (from $229 per person and $265 for two people) includes accommodation for up to two guests with a personalised star chart on arrival, moon calendar and slippers; and The Off The Charts package (from $329 per person and $469 for two people) includes accommodation for up to two people with a one-hour face-to-face astrology reading with the Stars Like You team, moon calendar and slippers.

Room rates start from $139 to $329 per night. See www.theultimo.com.au

Highlight

The location, right in the heart of Chinatown; it's an ideal spot for travellers who are keen to explore one of the city's most colourful precincts.

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Lowlight

Being in the central area of Chinatown, there's going to be a fair amount of street noise.

The writer was a guest of The Ultimo.