What used to be a wool shed in the middle of a sheep farming area is now a youthful hotel that celebrates the Pyrmont district’s heritage while featuring the full suite of modern amenities. Opened in 2013, the hotel is an extravaganza of wool, which is found in the felted black lampshades attached to old pulleys in the lobby, in the lower wall panels in the hallways, and as carpeting throughout the building. The old Wool Brokers Arms is visible across the street from the heritage rooms on the west side of the hotel. Modern and cheeky touches also abound at this boutique property, known as the world’s first Instagram hotel. There’s an empty “Selfie Frame” hanging amid mismatched furniture in the lobby, and guests with at least 10,000 Instagram followers are offered a free night’s stay. (Mere Instagram mortals have a chance to win, too, by using the hashtag #1888hotel to be entered into a monthly photo contest.) 1888 is also a leader in sustainability; the hotel preserved the building’s original ironbark beams and built desks from recycled floorboards. The minibar is more conscious than usual, too, stocked with Alter Eco chocolates, Charlie’s juices, coconut water, and fresh milk. The best things about 1888 are the little surprises. Even the hotel’s name has a double meaning: 1888 was the year the building was constructed but was also the year that the Kodak camera debuted.
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1888 Hotel is situated between brick-walled hotels and apartment blocks in the Pyrmont neighborhood. It’s within reach of the Sydney Fish Market, the Sydney Exhibition & Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, the Star casino, Cockle Bay, and the CBD. The hotel’s Pyrmont Insta-Walk map, designed by local fashion blogger Emily Fang from Little Black Book, is a great way to discover the best spots along Darling Harbour for taking photos. More active guests can rent one of the Livelo bikes parked in the lobby. There are plenty of great restaurants in the area, including Momofuku Seiobo, Sugaroom, and Café Morso, and many more in nearby Haymarket, which includes Sydney's Chinatown. The Cottage Bar & Kitchen is worth a detour west for a homey dinner or weekend brunch.
Need to Know
Rooms: 90 rooms, 9 lofts, 6 suites; from $179. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: 1888 Eatery and Bar offers breakfast, dinner, and a daily happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. The friendly space, connected to the lobby, has colorful felt furniture, two oversized leather sofas, a central skylight, and negative-style photos of the nearby Ultimo area. Serving simple and wholesome dishes as well as locally produced drinks, it's quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite. Spa and gym details: Massages and other spa treatments can be arranged in-room. While there isn’t an on-site gym, hotel guests have free access to the Ian Thorpe Aquatic and Fitness Centre, which boasts two pools, a state-of-the-art gym, sauna, steam room, and city-view sun deck.
Who's it best for: Instagram enthusiasts, cruise passengers disembarking at Darling Harbour, and Google employees visiting the Sydney headquarters around the corner. Our favorite rooms: The heritage King rooms are the most charming, framed by distressed wood beams, period windows, and 1940s graffiti carved into exposed brick. The Williamson suite has all this plus vaulted ceilings, a cocktail bar, private entrance, and a sitting room large enough for eight. Party like it's 1888: The hotel doesn’t charge to host an event in the lobby-bar, provided the party is open to other hotel guests.