The InterContinental Sydney Hotel Review - A Place to Lift Your Spirit


Old Bank Building part of the InterContinental Sydney

I knew we had chosen the perfect place to stay during our visit to Sydney, Australia when I was sitting by an open door just inside the wrap around balcony absorbing the sun, the air a perfect temperature, a perfect view of Sydney’s gorgeous Harbour before me.  After an easy shuttle ride from the Airport we were dropped at the hotel’s door where we entered a visually impressive building from the Victorian era.  Walking through the lobby of the InterContinental Sydney, there were beautiful old stone and brick arches, marble walls, and shiny tile floors.

Botanic Garden and Harbour from window

Entering our room, we were immediately struck by the exquisite view of the harbour and from some angles, the famous Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens.

From the Botanic Gardens

In the room, there was a large bed, huge windows to bring the city into view, a large screen TV (with a wide range of channels), beautiful use of glass in several places but especially the closet doors.  The fresh apples set in a small buffet area made us feel welcome.  There was also the hot pot for tea and coffee and there was also a very well equipped bar.

A lovely, comfortable bed in an attractive, functional room

The bathroom was beautiful with black and white tile floors and an intricate pattern in the tub area.  What I liked especially was that the room was brightly lit and the safety features such as grab bars in just the right places.  The soaps, shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and hand cream were of very high quality and smelled wonderful.

Peeking out of the bathroom

Having settled in, a short walk to the Opera House seemed appealing.  We discovered this was a very short walk and were awed by the beauty of the Opera House and the Bridge.  It was so easy to walk up the steps to the Royal Botanic Gardens that we took a short detour through the gardens and observed Ibis birds pecking and flying.  Somewhere along our walk we also noticed our proximity to The Rocks, an area of Sydney’s early homes, and the Circular Quay and made plans to return to this area with restaurants, shops, ferries and other cruises a bit later.

From our window, the Sydney Opera House

When it was time for afternoon tea, we headed for the Club InterContinental Lounge.  Along the way, we noted the Harbour Room, a place with a gorgeous view for special events, the extremely well equipped gym, and the pool.  But the tea beckoned us and we found ourselves in a lovely room with large windows surrounding three sides of the room and a small wrap-around balcony.  Walking onto it we experienced breathtaking views in every direction and were delighted.  Later, I learned this is the only hotel in the city to boast this kind of walk and it has hosted many celebrities.

A cheery breakfast

Tea in the Club InterContinental Lounge

A relatively new addition is the Club InterContinental, which is known as the ultimate Sydney experience. The exclusive rooftop lounge was built to provide uninterrupted views that stretch from the Harbour Bridge to the Pacific Ocean.  Additional benefits include personalized concierge and business services and complimentary deluxe breakfast, all-day refreshments and evening drinks with canapés.  We highly recommend the Club InterContinental.  It greatly enhanced our experience at the hotel.

Harbour Bridge from the window

I am consistently surprised and delighted with the approach InterContinental Hotels use in preserving historic building while offering modern convenience and luxury. Since its’ opening in 1985, the InterContinental Sydney has received many accolades including the New South Wales Awards of the Decade in Tourism Excellence for Luxury Accommodation 2000.  The hotel is built on the site of the first Government House of New South Wales, a building that stands out with the sandstone façade of the Treasury Building dating from 1851, and is a landmark listed by the National Trust.  Going back further, this was the site where the first Australian grape vine was planted in 1788.

Doyles at Watson's Bay

We found the location just perfect.  With it proximity to the Opera House, it was easy to attend repeated events there.  It was easy to get to the Circular Quay where we boarded ferries to several locations including Watson’s Bay and Balmoral Beach.  There were wonderful restaurants including Doyles at Watson’s Bay, an institution of its own dating to 1885 (  Traversing the Harbour by ferry, we were astounded by its vastness.

The view from Watson's Bay

Going to Balmoral Beach, we took a taxi and rode over the Harbour Bridge.  We could have walked across it or arranged to climb on the upper part of the bridge but we simply drove across.  We learned there are 8 lanes for cars, a lane for the railway, one for walking and another for biking.  Our drive took us through several suburbs including the very wealthy North Shore area of Mosman.  We were delighted with the beautiful beach at Balmoral and the wonderful food at Bather’s Pavilion (

Bather's Pavilion at Balmoral Beach

Beach at Balmoral

The Museum of Modern Art is located at the Circular Quay.  The 2008 Biennale of Sydney took place from June 18 to September 7 and presented me with an unusual opportunity.  Venues for this exhibit were all over the city and included some exhibits on Cockatoo Island with free ferry service.  This exotic sounding island was once a prison whose buildings have been nominated for World Heritage listing, and a shipyard. Vision, creativity and the free ferry created a fascinating location for some very unusual artistic exhibits.  On the ferry, I spoke with a woman named Lisa and since she had visited the exhibit several times, she became my unofficial guide.  It was a lovely opportunity to explore an unusual island, sometimes shocking “art” and to have a lovely visit with another visitor to Sydney.

A pool with a view

At the InterContinental Sydney you will find 509 stylish and contemporary guest rooms including 24 Executive Suites, 2 Governor Suites, the State and Australia Suite. InterContinental Sydney continues to play a key role in the history and life of New South Wales, and is the leading hotel for visiting Royalty, Heads of State, Diplomats, Foreign Dignitaries and the world’s political elite.

Entering the Cortile Lounge

A special word needs to be said for the staff.  No matter where we were in the hotel and no matter which staff member we interacted with, we found people to be friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and perceptive.  On our last evening we were standing in the lobby looking at some grill work that looked like a cage.  A very helpful young man greeted us and asked if we wanted a ride in the caged elevator and immediately took us for the ride to the second floor.  This is one of the oldest continually functioning caged elevators in Australia.  A stay at the InterContinental Sydney is a great way to enhance your visit.

Entering the InterContinental Sydney

InterContinental Sydney
Corner of Bridge and Phillip Streets
Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Tel: +61 2 9253 9000

The Club InterContinental Lounge at night, a breathtaking view

Photos: Leon Keer and InterContinental Sydney

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