Sydney is a popular port of call for many cruise lines. Whether you start or end your cruise here, plan to spend some time in this spectacular port as part of your vacation.
Sydney is recognized as one of the most scenic cities on the planet, and you’ll want to book a room that gives you plenty of opportunity to take in the views. Look no further than the historic, 19th century New South Wales Treasury building that forms the core of the Intercontinental Sydney. The restored structure– complete with the original wrought iron elevator– creates an inspiring meeting spot called the “Cortile.” Here visitors admire the architecture and meet for drinks, nibbles, or a lavish afternoon tea.
The Intercontinental Sydney has long been recognized as a prime spot to view the renowned New Year’s Eve fireworks display on the harbor. As such for the occasion ,the hotel is booked years in advance. Besides the spectacular panoramic views, the hotel’s location is superb: at the perimeter of the Royal Botanical Gardens and just steps from the Opera House, the Rocks, and Circular Quay–with its lively port and harbor cruises. The location alone is reason enough to stay at this iconic property, but that is just the start of your experience.
Our harbor view accommodation gave us sweeping vistas of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Opera House, and Circular Quay where our cruise ship docked. We settled into the spacious room with comfortable, contemporary décor and luxury bath amenities by Agraria.
After settling in, we made our way to the “Club Intercontinental Lounge”. The upcharge for lounge access is a value added indulgence that far exceeds the additional charge. The 32nd floor’s sweeping views and sleek, luxurious appointments of Club Intercontinental are inviting during the day and so spectacular at night that it turns into an intimate Supper Club opened to the public for weekend late night nibbles, cocktails, ( 24 champagne selections ), a DJ and unparalleled vistas to seduce the most discriminating of late night revelers.
Breakfast at the Club Lounge was a combination of buffet selections and made to order items. Exclusive teas and a barista-selection of coffee drinks are served all day and evening. Twilight hours sparkled with complimentary bubbly, wine, cocktails and a wide international selection of appetizers that changed daily, but always included sushi.
The staff of this 5-star property prides itself on guest satisfaction–whatever it takes. They checked us in early and accommodated our requests for an allergy free room. The concierge staff at Club Intercontinental are especially helpful. Royalty could not be treated any better than the ladies and gentleman who look after the Lounge. They are professional, personable and capable. In fact, they regularly host high profile guests with the discreet, efficient service they require. In our case, Charlotte successfully contacted our newly purchased cellular provider to get our data plan working after several of our own frustrating attempts had failed. Her technical wizardry and patient coaching skills proved invaluable throughout our stay. The ease of meeting and conversing with fellow guests who all have their own adventures to share is perhaps one of the prime benefits of the lounge.
Dining at their a la carte restaurant, 117 Dining, was a culinary surprise. Far from being just another hotel restaurant, this jewel box space provided an intimate setting for an exquisitely prepared meal. We chose the “Degustation Menu,” which was ably paired with sake and wines selected by the Sommelier, Robert Knight. The matches were spot on–showcasing the knowledge of this credentialed wine director, as well as the breadth of the impressive wine cellar.
At 117 Dining we started with champagne and an oyster shooter, followed by kingfish, a local lobster like crustacean called a “marron.” Those three courses were followed by duck breast, a wagyu rib, an heirloom tomato salad, slow roasted carrots and finished with a parade of desserts.
At 117 Dining the meal’s ingredients are local with nuanced Asian influences. The technique and presentation are French inspired and are masterful. The menu changes to reflect the season, and you are sure to have a gourmet experience at this secret find. For a complete listing of the Degustation Menu, along with matched wines, go to Degustation Menu .
Another dining venue at the Intercontinental Sydney, Café Opera, offers a nightly seafood buffet with blue crab, mussels, shrimp, and several additional local crustacean delicacies along with sushi and hot prepared comfort food dishes, such as roast turkey or roast beef.
In addition, Café Opera has a charcuterie station, salads, pastas, carving station, fruits and desserts. The weekends include whole roast salmon and lobsters. THE FOOD IS PREPARED IN SMALL BATCHES so it is fresh, hot, appetizingly presented and delicious.
Additional pampering is available at Sabastian Salon on premises, where I indulged in a facial and shampoo/blow dry that was top flight. The deep tissue massage provided by Yolanda melted away the tension of a day’s worth of touring. Her therapeutic touch was just what the doctor ordered after a full day of touring. Cardio in the fitness center and swimming in the warm indoor pool rounded out our daily exercise routine.
The concierge staff at the Intercontinental Sydney will orient you to the endless sightseeing, touring, and shopping possibilities that the city and its nearby harbor and beaches offer. Many are located within easy walking distance of the hotel. Perhaps the most famous is the Sydney Opera House.
Even if you are not an opera buff, a tour of this venue is a must. The hour-long tours are offered every 30 minutes. The story behind this architectural marvel is spellbinding, and if you are lucky enough to hear a rehearsal in session, you are in for a treat.
Another fascinating venue in Sydney not to be miss is the Sydney Fish Market. This is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and second only in the world to Japan in variety. Spend some time walking the stalls viewing over 100 different species and sampling the freshly sourced and prepared seafood with the rest of Sydney’s residents who make this a regular haunt.
If you are game, take a cooking class at the Sydney Seafood Culinary Center located on the second floor of the Fish Market. Check their schedule online, as they offer several classes on most days of the week. We took a “BBQ Seafood Cooking Class” that included the experience of cleaning squid and shrimp, filleting a fish, cleaning mussels, and preparing salmon, marinades and sauces–all cooked by us on the grill.
At the Sydney Seafood Culinary Center we watched the carefully presented cooking demos, assembled teams of five, followed the instructions, divvied up our tasks, and before you knew it, we were eating the fruits of our labor—all dishes accompanied by a carefully paired Riesling wine, followed by expresso and chocolates. What an engaging way to fully learn, enjoy, and develop some cooking competence and confidence, while sharing the camaraderie of fellow foodies.
Whether it’s a brief or extended visit for work or pleasure, first time or returning, the Intercontinental Sydney offers exceptional service and an unbeatable location to explore the city with the convenience, comfort, and the luxury standards you expect from Intercontinental.