is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

Sydney’s Best Design Hotels: MASTERCARD

The Old Clare Hotel
Walk inside the big oval bar of the newest player on the design hotels block, the funky 62-room Old Clare Hotel in gritty Chippendale, and you’ll immediately feel the ghost of parties past. Before this year’s transformation, the hotel was the historic Clare Hotel pub adjoining the Carlton & United Breweries administration building. As you sip a Vermouth Will Set You Free cocktail in one of the comfy leather chesterfields, you’ll notice the distinctive heritage features, including the original yellow tiles and mottled carpet design. Head upstairs to your room and you find eclectic furnishings, luxurious king-size beds, and marble bathrooms. But you won’t stay in you room for long, not with the sparkling rooftop pool calling you (with its own bar), or the hotel’s buzzing restaurants Automata, Silvereye, and soon-to-open Kensington Street Social downstairs.

QT Sydney
The bright, bold 200-room QT Sydney situated right in the centre of the city, is as fun for a night out as it is for a weekend stay. Also housed in a refurbished heritage building, the Gowings building and State Theatre, it offers style with a side of naughty. You are met at the door by a Director of Chaos (a red wig and black leather-clad version of a concierge). But you no doubt appreciate the quirky-chic design touches, like the wall created from vintage suitcases and the digital LED art installations. Make sure you head to the European-styled brasserie Gowings Bar & Grill for a martini, and possibly a cheeky steak, before heading out to the clutch of glittering attractions that make Sydney the glamazon she is.

Take a five minute stroll down the road from QT Sydney and you’ll find yourself at the door of another of Sydney’s design hotels, Justin Hemmes’s exceedingly sophisticated Establishment Hotel. This former warehouse space houses 31 sleek rooms, including two swanky penthouse suites, and is just the ticket if you’re in the mood for splashing out on a romantic night. Throw your suitcase down in a room equipped with marble baths, high ceilings, and Japanese-influenced minimalist interiors, crank up a playlist on the iPad, and order a glass of French champagne. If you can bear to pull yourself away from your classy digs, head downstairs to the gaggle of hip, trendy bars and restaurants also owned by Hemmes like Mr. Wong for some of Sydney’s best dumplings, or the underground Palmer & Co. for prohibition bunker vibes, and their infamous El Diablo cocktail, where white tequila, blackcurrant liqueur, ginger, and lime juice combine in a deliciously lethal combination.

Guest Residences by The Country Trader
If you want to feel like you’re staying at a friend’s place—albeit one with really, really great taste—make your way over to Darlinghurst in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, where you find the Guest Residences by The Country Trader. There are three bespoke Victorian-terrace apartments to choose from, each completely unique, and decorated with eclectic antiques from around the globe (no surprise since the owner also owns one of Australia’s finest antique furniture stores, The Country Trader). You might want to think about giving the in-house concierge a buzz and asking him to buy some groceries so you can work your magic in the fully equipped kitchen. Although the call of Victoria Street’s pumping bars and restaurants just 500 metres away will likely prove too tempting.


Leave a Reply