A short walk from Central station where the city meets Surry Hills, Veriu Central has the advantage of being close to some of Sydney's best restaurants and bars as well as public transport. On the corner of Wentworth Avenue and Elizabeth Street, the location means whatever the vista from your window you know you are smack bang among it all in the big smoke, where activity surrounds around the clock.
The hotel is housed in Wentworth House, which was built more than a century ago and is where, in the 1920s, local identities would meet to discuss the business of the day in the drawing room. Later, the building became a warehouse.
As with its Broadway establishment, the Veriu group secured the services of architect Ashkan Mostaghim to reimagine the space, staying true to its heritage but adding contemporary design touches. Most impressive is the lobby space; in homage to the 1920s they've renamed it the Drawing Room. It's done out in rich woods, warm lighting, velvet and brass, with a touch of foliage, and it's a nice venue to linger for a drink, to work or have a meeting.
There are 112 rooms configured five ways. I am in the corner 34-square-metre Wentworth Triple Room which has bright views out towards the corner of Wentworth Avenue and Elizabeth Street. Warm and dark shades of blue and timber are complemented by soft greys and bursts of yellow in the soft furnishings. On the walls are colourful artworks by local creatives. There's free Wi-FI, Netflix, a pod coffee machine, a mini-kitchen with a fridge and microwave, and ample room to work, lounge and rest. If you're travelling alone and just using the room to sleep, the smallest available room is what's known as the "shoebox"; it fits a king single bed. As Veriu had to work with the space that was available (before the refit, the hotel was an inexpensive flophouse for backpackers and budget travellers), the bathrooms, even in the largest room, are small.
Comfy social spaces at Veriu Central, Sydney.
There are five eateries under the one roof at Veriu. Try the fresh handmade dumplings at Harry's Dumplings, which is designed to look like it's in a hawker-style back alley. There is laundry pegged from washing lines, exposed bricks, neon signs and reproduced paper money with images of Mao. The hotel runs a happy hour for guests to try the dumplings between 5 and 6pm. Also on site is Nel, with a renowned degustation menu designed by chef Nelly Robinson. Sydney institution Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab is next door. Basket Brothers is a good choice for breakfast or lunch and meals here can be charged back to your room. Veriu is working with former Becasse head chef James Metcalfe on its food and beverages so expect the menu in the Drawing Room to expand, together with the craft cocktail list. The hotel tariff includes a free barista-made coffee and pastry each morning from the Drawing Room.
Being on the edge of the city and Surry Hills there is plenty to do within walking distance. If you need to get your bearings, just ask one of the staff, who have done what Veriu calls an "internal reconnaissance" to pick out all their favourite local must-dos, from secret gin palaces to independent art galleries. Big-name attractions such as the Art Gallery of NSW, Botanic Gardens, Capitol Theatre and the Australian Museum are also within walking distance. If you prefer to cycle, you can use one of the hotel's free bikes (and helmets). Major department stores are a 15-minute wander away. Some of the darlings of the Sydney food scene, including Longrain, Bodega and Chin Chin, are steps away from the hotel.
Veriu is helping to redefine how we experience hotels. By offering a beautifully designed, comfortable lobby space with good music, food and bar offerings, guests are more inclined to gather here to socialise or work instead of holing up in their rooms. Guests can also visit other Veriu hotels to meet with friends or work; simply show your key, and they will give you a free drink. It's a clever concept which is rolling out in Melbourne, too; the group recently acquired all of the Punthill Apartments hotels.
Veriu Central, 75 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney. The Elizabeth Queen room starts from $195 per night, the Wentworth Suite from $270 a night. See veriu.com.au/central
The free add-ons such as drinks, pastries and dumplings make the stay more of a social experience. The design, especially in the Drawing Room, is impressive as is the friendly service.
With just a shower, the bathroom might seem a little poky for those who like a hotel stay to include a soak in a bathtub.
The writer stayed as a guest of Veriu Central.