Chiseled from a sandstone-and-brick wool factory on the site of Sydney’s first hospital, the Harbour Rocks Hotel is one of the most historic accommodations in the Rocks—and maybe the most haunted. Hotel staff say part of the building, named Scarlett’s Cottages after a well-known lady of the night, is watched over by Eric, a man who once lived here and who still searches for Scarlett in the labyrinthine corridors after she swore her love to him and then disappeared. Ghosts aside, the hotel’s 59 rooms are peaceful, with high ceilings, Georgian arched windows, brick walls painted dark gray, Old West–style textiles, and wool carpeting that recalls the building’s former life. The place is filled with fun artifacts, too, from the ancient luggage lift to old maps and letters framed on the walls. The early-20th-century history that pervades the building is also found in every direction outside its doors.
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Situated smack-dab in the middle of Sydney’s most historic neighborhood, the Harbour Rocks Hotel is a gateway to an abundance of great restaurants, cafes, pubs, and galleries. Guests can wander through hidden laneways—Nurse’s Walk is right behind the hotel—and discover restaurants such as Odyssey Wine Bar, Baroque Bistro, and the world-famous Quay. The Rocks is also a fun shopping precinct, packed with stores selling opals, Aboriginal art, and UGG boots, and home to the weekly Rocks Markets. The Museum of Contemporary Art is also just three blocks away, and on Thursday evenings is open until 9 p.m.
Need to Know
Rooms: 48 rooms, 11 suites; from $349. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 10 a.m. Dining options: Scarlett Restaurant feels like a Spanish tavern carved from 127-year-old sandstone and classed up with Eames-style chairs and leather benches; it's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eric’s Bar upstairs offers a daily happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Spa and gym details: Harbour Rocks features a small gym and easy access to Endota spa from Nurse’s Walk, a historic laneway directly behind the hotel.
Who's it best for: Hip couples and history buffs with discerning taste. Our favorite rooms: The Studio Suites have Georgian arched windows, but for a real splurge, the Harbour View Suite is a self-contained one-bedroom apartment with a huge terrace facing the opera house. Special privilege: As a member of Accor Hotels’ MGallery collection, Harbour Rocks invites guests staying in the Harbour View Suite to experience a "Memorable Moment": dinner on the suite terrace accompanied by a special performance of live music by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.