I've driven past this hotel umpteen times, and always wondered what the appeal was of staying on Sydney's congested Bayswater Road. However, once you enter the refurbished property all becomes clear. The six-storey curved building backs on to Rushcutters Bay with ancient Moreton Bay fig trees, sprawling parkland and yachts moored serenely in the marina. Stroll along the harbor to Darling Point, or head over the hill to neighbouring Rose Bay. In the other direction a plethora of restaurants, bars and cafes await in Potts Point and Kings Cross.
The 243-room and 15-suite hotel sports a new look thanks to a multi-million-dollar makeover completed at the end of 2016. The design by TomMarkHenry offers a retro yet contemporary 1950s Palm Springs theme complete with palm strewn wall-papered restaurant and bar. The refurbishment is part of TFE Hotels' roll out of the next generation of Vibe Hotels in Australia, joining the award-winning Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport and Vibe Hotel Marysville.
The makeover added a further 13 guest rooms, while the rooftop pool deck also boasts a slick new look with cool sun lounges, timber decking, smart black and white umbrellas, a gym and panoramic city and harbour views. Rooftop yoga is held here several times a week ($10 a class; bookings essential).
The revamped guest rooms mirror the hotel's new theme in calming muted greens and a plush honeycomb carpet, with ambient lighting and artwork that reflects the local surrounds. New bathrooms have been added, each with a walk-in shower and quality fittings. My executive king room is spacious and restful with a teal coloured chair beside the window looking out over the harbour and parklands, and has sleep-inducing black out blinds. Double glazing on rooms keeps noise to a minimum.
Behind reception the transformed bar and dining space, Storehouse on the Park, offers a breezy covered verandah and outdoor terrace with chic black and white tiles, lush hanging foliage, cactus pots and louvered glass shutters. A pooch-friendly terrace to the rear offers a cutely named "Dogustation" menu.
Open from breakfast until late, the menu offers local and seasonal produce while the bar serves up craft beers and good cocktails. Unwary travellers should note that the buffet breakfast, which lacks oomph, closes at 10am (not included in room rate), however an a la carte menu runs until 11am offering pressed juices, decent Vittoria coffee, and dishes like a fancy version of avocado on toast. The lunch and dinner menu offers dishes such as a tasty wagu beef burger and grilled haloumi, witlof and herb salad.
The hotel's location is a standout. The surrounding parks are filled with pram-pushing and dog-walking locals (ask the staff to pack you a picnic; additional cost); you can have a hit of tennis on the courts nearby and coffee afterwards at the cute adjoining kiosk with its lovely water views. You can charter a yacht or crew at the nearby marina, take a walk around the historic Reg Bartley Oval (where the movie Babe was filmed) swim laps in the Murray Rose Pool, and head up to Potts Point for dinner at Kylie Kwong. The deck of the nearby CYCA Bistro is fantastic for a cold ale and sparkling harbor views.
This affordable urban hotel always offered an unbeatable location, but its fresh new look makes it even more of a winner for both out of towners and staycationers. The hotel is looking at offering dog-friendly rooms, so watch this space.
100 Bayswater Road, Ruschutters Bay, Sydney. Rooms start from $179 a night including wifi. Phone (02) 8353 8988 or see tfehotels.com
A swim in the rooftop pool overlooking the city skyline, harbour and jacaranda-peppered surrounds.
The buffet breakfast menu is fairly average and they charge you extra for eggs to order ($3 per egg), so opt for the a la carte menu instead.
Sheriden Rhodes was a guest of TFE Hotels.