With a weekend of no plans fast approaching, my friend Liz and I decided to organise a last minute getaway. We toyed with the idea of driving to Jervis Bay, Palm Beach or even Canberra, but the severe weather battering New South Wales all week put a damper on most of our ideas. Being the opening weekend of Vivid in Sydney, we had a lightbulb moment. Why not have a weekend getaway… in our own City?
We booked a last minute mystery hotel deal and ended up at the 4.5 Star Holiday Inn Old Sydney. A sweet 20 minute taxi ride from my apartment! I was a little surprised that a hotel under the Holiday Inn brand could be classed as a 4.5 Star hotel, but it soon became clear that there was two prime reasons for this coveted status; the rooftop pool with a view, and the prime location.
Internally, the hotel itself was nothing special. Desperately requiring modernisation, the rooms were pretty basic and the hotel bar was lack lustre, but there’s no denying it was a great location to set up base camp for our mini city break. While I would much rather have been staying down the road at the Park Hyatt (who wouldn’t!?), to give the hotel its due credit the customer service was very good and, as mentioned, you couldn’t have asked for a better location.
After checking out the view from the roof by daylight, we headed around Circular Quay to the Opera Bar to have a lazy afternoon drinking bubbly in the cold sun. It’s hard to ever get tired of that view; the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the City Skyline and Luna Park, all in one panoramic, and fully licensed, view.
As night fell, we roamed the footpath around the waters edge from the Opera House to The Rocks, wading through the large crowds, and checking out the Vivid lighting installations along the way. At some point, hunger replaced thirst, and we ended up at Bar 100 in The Rocks for a late dinner. A bottle of wine, some delicious sliders, and a pizza to share later, we braved the mighty and perilous trek (literally across the road) back to our hotel for a night cap on the roof.
After a buffet-breakfast, we checked out and decided to make the most of the blue skies and warm sun that Sunday had delivered us. We jumped on a fast ferry from Circular Quay over to Watsons Bay and spent the day relaxing in the sun by the water at the trendy Watsons Boutique Hotel. The beautifully decorated beer garden boasts prime real estate looking back on the CBD and the Harbour, so you can’t hold it against them that – for the first 20 minutes at least – you will probably find yourself stalking tables like prey, waiting for someone to leave, and pouncing on a table coming available before the previous guests have had a chance to vacate yet.
While we had grand plans to go on a whale-watching tour, or hit up Oxford Street for a spot of Australian Designer shopping, there is nothing quite like a hangover and a spot of sunshine to turn your productive Sunday plans into a lazy day of Vitamin D replenishment and ice cold fluids. Nonetheless, it was a lovely end to our mini tourist break in the City that we both call home at the moment.
And the best bit of holidaying at home? My partner was just a phone call away to come and pick me up, and take me home!