I always thought that I was a typical teenager. I just wanted to be an adult yet so many things were off limits to me because of a thing like my age. My friends and I found ways around this and we used to love to hang out at hotel bars to sip on mocktails while pretending to be much older than we were (although if we truly older we wouldn't have been drinking mocktails). I'm still not sure where the passing out drunk gene went but we never had it. We loved hotel bars because the snacks were plentiful, service was always good and our favourite bar was at the top of the Inter Continental because it had such a great view of the city.
So it's with some hazy but fond memories that we revisit the Inter Continental Hotel located on the corner of Bridge and Macquarie streets near Circular Quay. The restored three storey sandstone Treasury building provides the roots for the hotel and the original bird cage style elevator, marble staircase and lion statues are a feature of the light filled atrium lobby. Above it lies the 31 floors of rooms. Mr NQN checks us in while I meet a friend for lunch-because of course the best thing about staying in a city hotel is catching up with friends for lunch that work nearby. Service is very friendly upon check in he tells me and I later make my way upstairs to room 2409, an Eastern Harbour View Room. One thing that is a small detail but we both notice is that when you put the key in the slot for the elevator it automatically selects the correct floor for you, a tiny detail but a good one.
The room itself is actually quite small at 32 square metres. I haven't had an enormous sample of Sydney hotel rooms, just the Sofitel and the Park Hyatt but in comparison, this is noticeably small. There is a very comfortable king bed with plenty of feather pillows, a pillow menu sits on the right of the bed and an alarm clock and iPod dock on the left. There's a window seat which is where a sick Mr NQN has sat the entire afternoon drinking in the view of the Botanical Gardens. The rooms here either have a garden view or the more sought after harbour view although you do have to be up very high to be able to see both the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House in the same view.
A quick glance at the mini bar while peckish later is a bit alarming-a packet of potato chips is $7.50 so I put them back. The selection is nevertheless good with Australian boutique brands rather than supermarket stock. There is Ronnefeldt tea in a good range of flavours but the coffee selection is only instant and the milk are small UHT vials.
The bathroom like the rest of the room is small although I do like the fact that there is a tub at all. It's a tub shower combo with a cloth curtain. The amenities provided are by a San Francisco brand called Agraria in a lovely lemon verbena scent. There's shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and body wash. In the cardboard amenities box there is a shower cap, nail file and emery board, cotton tips, cotton pads and a shoe shine cloth.
The water pressure could be stronger but the towels are large and plentiful. The do not disturb signs are paper ones that you thread through the door handle and there's a card if you would like a complimentary newspaper in the morning. Internet is $25 a day for multiple devices-not the highest that I've seen but still expensive.
I call housekeeping for a turndown, these are on request and by the time we make it back to our room it is done. They draw both blinds and provide two bottles of water and foil wrapped milk chocolates and replace the milk. Our pillows are brought to us and the service throughout the hotel is absolutely top notch with everyone we encounter polite, friendly and anticipatory of any needs.
Although this isn't a club room, it is all the same features of a club room which is curious because club rooms are usually quite spacious. But the most important thing to get is access to the club lounge on the 31st floor which is where my old stomping ground the bar used to be located. It is open all day with complimentary light refreshments and free internet but we are visiting for twilight drinks . There are three flights of stairs to get there (as well as an elevator) and with each step it is feeling familiar and when we arrive at the club lounge it is dimly lit and busy with people although there are plenty of tables free.
The dark lighting inside (really too dark for any sort of photography) serves to enhance the spectacular harbour and city view below which sparkles like a diamond after the relentless rain from only days before and we sit entranced by the view. Service again is superb and there are snacks available from sushi, dips, cheeses, empanadas, lamb brochettes and a good list of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks from 5-7pm for club guests. It's easy to see why it's such a popular spot and why people request club access because the lounge is a spectacular setting with an incredible view.
The next morning, I have a quick breakfast upstairs in the club. There's a good amount of continental offerings from croissants,danishes and even jam filled donuts. There's cheese, smoked salmon, salami, lots of fresh and stewed fruit and two types of fantastic yogurt as well as bircher muesli. There are scrambled eggs, bacon and egg pizza (yes!), bacon and sausages as well as a variety of breads and cereals. I'm a bit overwhelmed by choice and go back and forth. I'm also shown an egg menu which is where eggs are freshly prepared to order. I order an egg white omelette which you can have either with mushroom and spinach or smoked salmon and I go for the latter. It's a tad on the salty side so I finish with one of the chocolates from last night's turn down back in my room.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is important to you in a hotel? Inexpensive or free internet? Location, club rooms, gym or included breakfast? Or is it purely price based?
117 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 (02) 9253 9000