Owned by Terry Kaljo—a former model and founder of the Contemporary Hotels collection of upscale rental homes and villas—the Medusa Boutique Hotel offers 18 unique accommodations in Darlinghurst, an eclectic area and the epicenter of Sydney’s gay community. The 19th-century home is filled with wacky touches, from red Alice in Wonderland–style carpeting that runs up the grand staircase to pastel-pink walls studded with maple leaves in the entryway. The midcentury-modern rooms—with their retro primary colors, geometric patterns, and vintage chaises longues—attract fashion, media, and design professionals looking to get beneath the surface of one of Sydney’s liveliest neighborhoods. But there's still the opportunity to relax, as guests can settle in next to the fireplace in the lobby to read the newspaper, enjoy a complimentary pastry, or make new friends. Longtime staff members offer the kind of local knowledge and personal attention that keeps guests coming back.
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A former red-light district at the crossroads of Surry Hills, Kings Cross, and Paddington, Darlinghurst is a diverse neighborhood that mixes historic pubs with ethnic food joints and upscale design boutiques with adult stores and discount clothing. In recent years, it’s become the locus of Sydney’s gay community as well as a happening dining destination, home to flagship locations of A Tavola and Gelato Messina. Darlinghurst is a hub for dining, drinking, and shopping, but most of all, it’s known for having fun.
Need to Know
Rooms: 13 rooms, 5 grand suites; from $220. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 10 a.m. Dining options: There are no restaurants on the premises, but the neighborhood is dining heaven. Guests can ask staff to suggest the latest hotspots, or check out such tried-and-true institutions as Spice I Am and the Darlinghurst branch of Bills. Spa and gym details: Since Medusa is a boutique hotel located in a former home, there is no on-site gym or spa. But plenty of fitness centers and yoga studios are nearby, such as Zen Ki Yoga. Zen Day Spa is a nice place to continue the meditation.
Who's it best for: Artists and designers looking for a peaceful stay in a vibrant inner-city suburb. Our favorite rooms: The five grand suites feature faux-marble fireplaces, geometric mirrors and cabinetry, and modern recliners. Three of them have a balcony overlooking the central courtyard. Mardi Gras: Guests must reserve several months in advance to stay during the City2Surf race—the starting line is near the hotel—and during Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which brings more glitter, rainbow flags, drag shows, and special events to Darlinghurst than usual every February and March.