Towering over the tin roofs of the historic Rocks district, the Shangri-La Hotel has helped set the standard for Sydney hospitality, not to mention harbor views. Alongside the Asian influences, personal attention, and secret scent (it’s not just the cascading floral arrangements) that Shangri-La is known for, the Sydney hotel also incorporates earthen Aussie tones and a host of foodie surprises—ranging from an award-winning deconstructed carrot cake to a 36th-floor restaurant with 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling vistas. In 2014, all the premium suites and the Horizon Club Lounge were spruced up with pops of turquoise to complement the color palette of cream, gold, and dark wood. Behind the scenes, the Shangri-La has worked hard to become more sustainable and socially conscious; initiatives include adding energy-efficient and water-saving fixtures, producing much of its food in-house, and donating money to local charities such as OzHarvest.
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The Rocks is Australia’s oldest neighborhood, famous for cobbled laneways, original brick buildings, and centuries-old terrace houses. Once the domain of sailors and prostitutes, the area has its share of storied watering holes, including Lord Nelson’s, the Australian Hotel, and Harts Pub, which is located next door to the hotel. All the landmarks around Circular Quay are just a short stroll away. On weekends, the Rocks Markets are a must-visit.
Need to Know
Rooms: 527 rooms, 38 suites; from $235. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: The casual Café Mix is open all day and is most famous for its sustainable seafood breakfast buffet on weekends; raw honeycomb is scraped from the hotel’s own beehives. The Lobby Lounge serves the artful desserts of pastry chef Anna Polyviou, plus two versions of high tea (in one of them the dishes are basically coated in chocolate). On the 36th floor, Altitude is a Modern Australian restaurant that specializes in local food products as well as house-made creations such as cured meats and cheeses. Spa and gym details: The Shangri-La features a gym, sauna, indoor swimming pool, and CHI Spa. Some treatments incorporate Outback-inspired ingredients, and there is also chakra therapy.
Who's it best for: Eco-conscious luxury travelers with a penchant for fine food, festivities, and vantage points. Our favorite rooms: The hotel’s 23 Executive Grand Harbour View Suites offer vistas that stretch across three rooms. Guests can admire the Sydney Opera House from the leather window seats in the living room, and try to spot the Blue Mountains from the marble tub. Special occasions: The hotel is a master of celebration, and staff will do their best to accommodate special requests. Anyone planning a proposal to remember could consider the $10,000 Martini on the Rocks at Blu Bar, which is served with one night’s accommodation and a diamond ring!