The Hilton Sydney is located near King Street, in the midst of a bustling shopping district. The hotel is a Category 8 property, requiring 40,000-70,000 points per night, with “Premium Rooms” going for over 88,000 points. That night, they were running a “promotional rate” of 59,736 points per night. This isn’t even close to a reasonable redemption level for a hotel outside of an exotic location, but I was looking to burn some Hilton points anyway, and ultimately it came down to which hotel chain offered me free breakfast and wifi. Since the Park Hyatt Sydney was just a tad bit out of my budget at $1,500 per night and my IHG Platinum status didn’t guarantee complimentary breakfast, the Hilton won out.
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The lobby was sleek and shiny, making a great first impression. When we arrived around 9 PM, there was a large group of Singapore Airlines flight attendants and pilots in the lobby. Unsurprisingly, there was no line at check-in at that hour. I made some small talk with the agent, who acknowledged my Gold status and that I’d be eligible for complimentary breakfast at Glass Brasserie the next morning.
In turn, I asked if we also had club lounge access. I don’t care about lounge access, really. I was trying to parlay this into a room upgrade. She typed something into the computer and then told me we’d been upgraded to an Executive Room and while we had access to the club lounge, we should have breakfast at Glass Brasserie because “it’s better.”
Lounge access isn’t a benefit extended to Hilton Gold members unless they’ve been upgraded to a club room. So asking about lounge access is an innocuous way of asking for an upgrade. This usually just amounts to a room on a higher floor and/or with a better view. On the down side, Gold members are guaranteed breakfast and if you’ve been granted lounge access, you’re supposed to have your breakfast there (which usually isn’t as good as at the hotel restaurant). In any case, it worked out very well for us as we got a room upgrade, access to the lounge, and breakfast at the hotel restaurant.
One thing I found tacky (which wasn’t the case at the Park Hyatt) was the following, spelled out on a plaque at check-in:
Credit Card payments relating to Australian hotels incur a merchant service fee of 1.5% in addition to the total amount payable.
If you’re carrying a card that tacks on foreign transaction fees of 3%, you’re looking at a total of 4.5% in fees. That can add up on a long stay. Thankfully, I had my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, so at least I wasn’t being charged a fee by my credit card provider.
A chain like Hilton really shouldn’t take the convenience store approach when it comes to processing credit card transaction. On a week long stay, do they really expect people to go all Jordan Belfort and throw a wad of cash down on the front desk at check-out?
The room was pretty small, with a matching tiny bathroom, but whoever designed it did the best they could with the space. There were two twin beds. If you’re the type of person who rolls over in your sleep, you will definitely end up on the floor.
Next to the bed were two complimentary bottles of water, plenty of outlets, and a comfortable leather chair to accompany the decent-sized work desk.
Across from the beds was a chaise lounge and a table stacked with magazines. There was a decent amount of closet space across from the bathroom, but again, the hallway was pretty crammed. The room resembled something out of an IKEA catalog – not that the furniture was cheap or anything, but I swear I’ve seen that closet unit, desk, and maybe even that entire bathroom in an IKEA showroom.
Speaking of the bathroom, here’s one area where the small space wasn’t used very well. In a room this cramped, there really is no need to set up a separate tub and shower. Combine the two, then move the toilet over to where the current shower is, and the room will be far less claustrophobic.
In case you’re interested, the amenities were by Peter Thomas Roth, which didn’t ring a bell with me, but I did like the products.
Though we had an upgraded room, the view wasn’t anything to get excited over. That being said, I can’t imagine there being a better view from a hotel smack dab in the middle of a city.
Breakfast was served at Glass Brasserie. The hotel website boasts of offering “the finest breakfast that the city has to offer” and by and large, they live up to this claim. As nice as the view from the Park Hyatt’s Dining Room was, I have to say Glass Brasserie was far more stunning.
Compared to this, the Park Hyatt was very, well, beige. I loved the high ceilings, the artwork and overall vibrancy of this place.
It pains me to say this, but the breakfast spread was not only more extensive than at the Park Hyatt, but it was better. I think the breakfast buffet was around $40 per person, which is on par with what the Park Hyatt charges – a pretty obscene amount, if you ask me.
There were far more hot dishes, a station with an Asian option, different types of fresh squeezed juice, an endless array of fruits and cheese, and on the other side was a whole station offering various types of bread and pastries.
I didn’t even make it there, as I had my hands full with the scrambled eggs (which were a bit too watery for my taste), french toast and veal sausage – which deserves its own segment on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. If for no other reason, I will return to this hotel for the veal sausage.
The service at breakfast was good overall. I liked that we were seated quickly, the waiter checked on us occasionally, and was attentive without being intrusive. Despite the rush, the servers did an excellent job taking care of guests.
Executive Club Lounge
The Executive Club Lounge is on the 37th floor of the building. We headed up there after breakfast just to check it out and compare the offerings.
There was an agent manning a desk at the lounge entrance, but he was on the phone and simply smiled as we walked in. There was no card-key required, no proof of access. We just strolled in.
This has got to be one of the biggest hotel lounges I’ve been to. There was a long hallway that branched out into separate seating areas, a computer station, and a semi-private dining room.
The breakfast spread was quite extensive, with dedicated aisles serving a huge selection of fruits, bread, hot items, and cereal.
Off to the side was a separate “kitchen” dedicated to drinks alone. It was stocked with bottled drinks, a coffee maker, fresh squeezed juices, milk, and more. Just judging by the extensive breakfast spread alone, I imagine this lounge is probably generous with the snacks and appetizers served throughout the day.
We were stuffed from breakfast, so there was no way we were going to sample any more food, but it looked good enough and people seemed to be enjoying it. This is probably the first lounge that I’ve been to that seems to be designed for lounging, as opposed to grabbing a quick breakfast or snack. With plenty of seating, a computer station, stacks of magazines and newspapers, I felt more like I was in a library (I mean that in a good way) or a cafe than a hotel club lounge.
Overall, this was a good stay. I may get nailed to the cross for saying this, but I almost liked the Hilton Sydney better than the Park Hyatt. It doesn’t compete when it comes to views or the size/decor of the room, but the breakfast was insanely good and service overall friendly. Plus, you’re in the middle of the city, just steps from shopping, dining, and public transportation. It’s definitely a solid choice if you’re visiting Sydney.
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