The tweet from Accor Hotels said “retweet this to win a 2 night stay in Sydney”, well, who am I not to comply with a directive like that? So retweet I did as it was easy enough to do – no forms to complete, no log in or granting access to my friends. So imagine my surprise a few days later when I received notification that I was the winner! For the normal person who lives in Philadelphia, they would say “great, but I can’t use it as Sydney is pretty far away”, but I’ve conceded that as a points person, I’m not quite normal. I used this as a sign from the universe that I was to plan a points redemption to Australia for my birthday vacation. Again, normal people don’t plan almost a month away just because they won a 2 night stay but that’s how a few months later my airport shuttle was pulling up to the Pullman Sydney on Hyde Park. Thank you Twitter and Accor Hotels! So full disclosure, I won this stay on twitter – it was a 2 night stay for two with a park view and breakfast – but I don’t think anyone expected me to redeem the award.
The Pullman Sydney is located at the far corner of Hyde Park in the city. The park is surrounded by apartments, hotels, museums and shopping. The hotel itself was a former Marriott and reflagged with renovations as Pullman Sydney in 2012. The Pullman brand is said to be the 4 and 5 star affordable hotel in the Accor portfolio of hotels with contemporary design catering to international clientele. With funky hotels in over 77 countries, I was excited to try the Pullman as I am a big fan of the Sofitels and had just come from the Sofitel Melbourne, truly a 5 star hotel.
You can easily reach the Opera House and Circular Quay walking about 20 minutes. The Big Red tourist bus (not a fan) stops at the museum down the street. I didn’t get a good feel for the neighborhood/area as it lacks cute cafes and restaurants – there is a 7-11 type convenience store and a Subway sandwich shop that I visited but nothing else to keep me here longer.
I used the airport shuttle for $17 AUS which was the long ride to the city but much cheaper than a taxi as it was just me. The shuttle dropped me at the curb of the hotel rather than use the arrival driveway at the front door. I was not met by bell staff so I rolled my bags to the front desk (I would see the lone bellman busy with other guests’ luggage). The lobby was small with a seating area in front of the check in desks. There was a bar up a few stairs on the left by the elevators.
At the front desk (a few separate workstations), there was no warm greeting as my attendant was all business. I showed her my voucher and inquired if in lieu of the “breakfast for two each day” if I could have internet with breakfast for one. She said she would ask a supervisor and call me in the room to confirm (she never did). I had to go back downstairs to request again and have a supervisor approve it. Now mind you, I didn’t quite expect a “wow, congratulations on winning the stay” but she could have been friendlier to make me feel welcome. I think I just got the wrong front desk person that day.
The hotel hallway was quite contemporary with vibrant colors so I expected my room to be the same. Upon entering the room, I was struck with the color palette in the room -grey, purple and orange – and couldn’t help but smile.
There was a flat screen on the wall next to the desk with the bed and seating area on the left.
With the only day of sun expected during my stay, I beelined for the window to see the park view and it didn’t disappoint. I could see the Anzac War Memorial from above as well as people on a mid-day Thursday enjoying the sun.
The bed was firm but comfortable (not quite the SoBed at Sofitel). The closet held an unexpected surprise- a chunky piece of furniture with drawers that didn’t quite go with the rest of the room, thankfully it was hidden by the doors.
The bathroom was also quite a surprise, but not in a good way – in an odd way. Oddly shaped with a jacuzzi tub/shower in the corner, a countertop with enough space to store my luggage, a single sink and no color. I tried to figure out what they did or didn’t do in the renovation and am surprised it this is the “upgrade” from before. I just think there are so many other ways to have made this space more pleasant.
I kept feeling that I had a room with a dual personality – blah bathroom and vibrant bedroom.
Due to a bit of a snafu, I ended up having breakfast via room service with a minute to spare and one day in the restaurant. On the first day, the card in my room stated breakfast was served until 11am. In the lobby, I asked where the breakfast room was located and was told it ended at 10 am (it was 10:45 am) but room service served until 11am. A bit confused, I was told I would have to go back to my room to call and order breakfast. As room service was not included in my package I was told it would be extra. Hungry and annoyed with the back and forth with the supervisor, I went back to my room. The extremely nice lady on the phone took pity on my plight and got authorization to use my breakfast voucher. Breakfast arrived 40 minutes after I placed the order. Extremely hungry and frustrated with delays, I was very happy to see a wonderful plated breakfast with a bowl of bacon (I’m convinced bacon solves all problems).
The next day, I managed to get to the breakfast room in time. The restaurant is small with windows facing the park. I was seated at first to a dirty table and then to a clean table. I didn’t have a scarf or anything to leave on the table as I went to the buffet. I was told by the server that they were out of something I don’t eat and the coffee machine was broken (I don’t drink coffee so not a problem for me). I managed to find a good selection and ordered eggs from the chef who said he would bring to my table. I went back to my table and surprise! found another couple sitting there. I had to find staff to seat me at another table.
The front desk over the three days was a mixed bag – I had to follow up on internet query and the breakfast snafu. It was disappointing as they said I was wrong about the times but couldn’t argue my photo of the breakfast card in my room booklet with the 11am time – then they said it must just be in my room (I think they need to review the books for this typo). The rest of my interactions with the front desk were pleasant especially as I needed to borrow an umbrella each time I ventured out (wonderful hotel amenity given the weekend of unending, unyielding rain).
I did not use the gym or pool but did go to the top floor to check them out. The pool and city view were of interest on my last day as it was cloudy but not yet raining. I can imagine this is a crowded spot in warmer weather.
Check Out was quick and easy, however, again the bellman was missing in action so I walked out to the curb in my attempt to flag a cab which was a fruitless effort on a Saturday morning. I instead jumped in a cab that had just arrived with new guests as this seemed the MO at the hotel (I did welcome them to the hotel before throwing my stuff in).
The Pullman had many families, groups and sports teams checking in which made for a good mix of guests in the hotel. The service issues I had were annoying but can be easily fixed so I would stay at the hotel again at my own expense without issue. They offer special packages such as one starting at $239 AUS for my park view room with free parking, a fuel voucher and breakfast for two. To me, this is affordable luxury in Sydney.