On my first visit to The Westin Sydney many years ago, I got stuck in the elevator. No, there wasn’t an electrical or mechanical problem, it was a dumb “only Sue” reason – I couldn’t get my keycard to work in the slot to press my floor. I tried a few times as the door shut and then someone pressed the button opening the doors expecting me to get out at the lobby but I had to laugh and say “keycard issues, I was stuck” – the businessman looked at me with that “you’re an idiot” look and asked me “what floor”. When I returned to The Westin Sydney, I made sure to work the keycard and elevator to avoid feeling stupid like last time.
The Westin Sydney is an impressive luxury hotel converting and restoring the old General Post Office building into a 400 room hotel with 31 floors. Memories of my first visit quickly flooded back on my most recent visit. The first visit I was loaded with lots of luggage having completed a month’s holiday in Perth and New Zealand with Sydney being the last stop as I made my way home. This time, Sydney was sandwiched between my Australia segments of Melbourne and Tasmania on my RTW as I wanted to spend my birthday in the city (little did I know it would be Raining on my Birthday Parade)
Westin Sydney Location
Martin’s Place is quite central in Sydney’s business and fashion district with Darling Harbour or Circular Quay (Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and ferries) about a 15 min. walk. A train station is mere minutes around the corner, buses stop nearby and shopping arcades are just steps away. For a first time visitor to the city, I think this is a great location to explore from. On the weekends though many cafes and restaurants in the area are closed as they service the central business district during the week. No worries, this is Sydney and there are fantastic options just down the road or a quick cab away.
Arriving by cab or car, there is a small driveway and large entrance. Many staff are available to assist at all times of the day/night and always smiling to welcome you to the hotel. As you enter the glass doors, you are struck with the sheer size of the lobby and interior courtyard of the building. There are couches and seating on the right and the bell, concierge and front desks on the left. Ahead of you is the lobby bar. As this is a popular business hotel, expect it to be pretty full most nights and on weekends it plays hosts to groups and weddings. Despite my SPG Gold Status, I wasn’t able to check in early (it was 11:30 am on a Saturday as I had just checked out of the Pullman Sydney on Hyde Park) nor was an upgrade available either (I wasn’t surprised by this as it was a busy weekend and I was staying on a points award). So I left my bags with the front desk and walked to Circular Quay to meet friends I had met months earlier at the World Domination Summit who were holding their local meet-up – Rock Your Purpose Live.
Westin Sydney Tower Superior Room
Just like I remembered – I was staying in the Tower, which has contemporary rooms. The Tower Deluxe Room includes a King bed and is all Westin – Heavenly Bed, Heavenly Bath, Green Leaf soap. The blond woods and neutral colors and glass make for a relaxing stay. The heated bathroom floor (awesome!) and the cool minibar drawer of tempting options are bonus features in the room. My bags were in the room when I returned later to check in. The room had a long entry with the bathroom on the right, wardrobe storage on the left and then the bedroom with entertainment area and a work desk.
Repeat – heated bathroom floor, an awesome amenity! The bathroom consisted of the deep soaking tub, large heavenly shower stall with the rainshower option or handheld, toilet stall and vanity. The hairdryer was easily found and the toiletries and towels each easy to access.
The Westin Sydney Mini-Bar
The minibar deserves it’s own section just for the glasses alone!
My conversations with room service are always fun as I ask the craziest questions. This time, while I wanted the club sandwich, I had been burned by other hotels portion size so I asked (hey, when you are spending over $20 you get picky) how many grams of chicken were on the sandwich. When told the equivalent of 2 ounces of chicken, the 8 oz burger with bacon seemed a better value dollar wise (health wise not at all) but tasty nonetheless. Arriving in about 20 minutes, the food was hot, tasty and simple – just what I needed on a rainy night.
Sydney Westin – Mosaic Restaurant
The mezzanine restaurant, Mosaic Restaurant, has views of the lobby, great views inside the building with expansive interior ceilings and is nicely decorated. I would visit only for breakfast each day. The breakfast buffet is quite extensive (and expensive – remember this is primarily a business/expense account hotel), however, you can order ala carte as I would each day. My ala carte was a problem the first day as the staff assumes most will do the buffet so I had to get up from my table and hunt for a server (I ended up asking the chef to find a server). I then had to flag down staff for the bill. After that first day, the staff were better as I kept it simple – pancakes, please!
Westin Sydney Lobby Bar
Always crowded but my friend was able to get a table and quick service. We started our memorable rainy night out with a glass of champagne.
I had emailed the concierge prior to my stay and received some recommendations but in person, on site, I was extremely disappointed. Having visited Sydney a few times, I wasn’t interested in repeating visits to the Opera House or taking in the Aquarium. With the rains never ending, the suggestions weren’t exactly helpful and I got a sense that both concierges that I spoke to were used to the first time visitor and I was annoying them both. Just because it is raining doesn’t mean everyone needs to visit a museum. Asking for a movie listing was like pulling teeth. Borrowing an umbrella requires you to complete a form which is an annoyance. The one concierge told me (in the rain) that it shouldn’t be too bad to go to Bondi to do the coastal walk. Despite my misgivings, I boarded the red hop on-hop off bus to Bondi (the bus was leaking water the whole ride which was fun dodging in the seats and not slipping on the floors) and realized that this was the worst idea ever! The winds were dangerous and there was no way I could walk along the coast with the waves, I was quite upset that I wasted time and money for naught on my birthday of all days!
Final Thoughts – The Westin Sydney
The Westin Sydney is a great hotel despite it’s uneven service – the building’s common areas allow it to stray from your typical Westin, allowing it some character of it’s own. The rooms are wonderful, spacious and so comfortable that it was a chore to drag myself outside into the rain each day (I should have waved the white flag of defeat and stayed in the heavenly bed, ordering room service and watching movies).
Using Starwood Preferred Guest points, the Westin Sydney is a fantastic redemption at 12,000 Starpoints per night (with 5th night free!) as the general rates are above $300 per night. Note: A pesky fee of 1.5% is added to all credit card transactions (essentially, the hotel passes the processing fee to you) – many Australian vendors do this and it doesn’t matter if you use a no fx transaction card – this fee is charged to you.