When time is short and you cannot really get away, think about staying at a hotel in your own city! I can assure you it will feel like spending the weekend elsewhere, yet you won’t have the hassle of getting to another city altogether.
When the Harbour Rocks Hotel asked me to stay for a night to check out the property for this blog, I was more than happy to accept. A night in a hotel, in a nice location, can be an invigorating experience. Sleeping in fresh sheets, in a clean room, and having your breakfast served in the morning – priceless. Setting your base in a central location offers all sorts of new opportunities that you would otherwise pass on – a mini-break in your own city.
So last Saturday I treated the family to an overnight stay at the Harbour Rocks Hotel. The location right in the middle of the historic The Rocks precinct couldn’t be better. There are dozens of great restaurants and bars to choose from, the main attractions like the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are just a couple of steps away, entertainment and family fun at Darling Harbour are also easy to reach, and there is of course the The Rocks market on the weekend which is always good fun.
But most importantly: The Rocks is the most charming part of Sydney. This is where white settlement began in Australia, the very first place where you would find permanent housing, the port, retail and public buildings.
Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there are remains of that past: The Dig is probably the most noteworthy archeological site, but you can also check out the free The Rocks Discovery museum which illustrates the pre-colonisation period when the area was home to the Gadigal people as well as the first years of the new British colony.
Many buildings in this precinct proudly show off their historic past: think convict carved stone, exposed bricks, and hidden courtyards.
The beautiful Harbour Rocks Hotel fits right in with this historic ambience of the area. It actually occupies two historic buildings: The Evans Stores, a wool warehouse, as well as the Scarlett Cottages, both of which heritage listed and built in the late 1800s.
When the buildings were converted into this The Rocks accommodation and renovated to modern standards, many of the original features were respectfully and carefully restored or highlighted in the new design. The overall concept can be found throughout the property, from the lobby to the guest rooms: painted and exposed brick walls, brown leather chairs, raw limestone walls, heritage timber. The colour scheme is dark, masculine and subdued, thus highlighting these historic features in a very elegant way. We loved the atmospheric black and white photographs in the hallways and the guest room which showed the desolate state of the building before the renovations – what a different some TLC can make!
We couldn’t have been more pleased with our room, incidentally upgraded to the best room in the house, the Harbour View Suite. The suite consists of a large lounge room and a separate king-sized bedroom with second TV, bathroom with bathtub and shower stall, and a large terrace with million-dollar harbour views. The sofa in the lounge room can be pulled out to sleep two guests comfortably, which made the Harbour View Suite a perfect choice for our family of four.
Needless to say that we enjoyed the views of the Sydney Opera House and even the Harbour Bridge on this sunny Saturday afternoon. A barbecue and a gas heater added comfort to this lovely outdoor space. Inside, we were particularly impressed by the nespresso coffee maker and the book exchange library. There was even a note explaining how to access a free app to read hundreds of magazines online, while logging onto the free hotel wifi.
The only downside of the room was the lack of a lift. If you are not very mobile and stairs pose problems for you in general then this penthouse suite is not the right choice for you. However, the staff will be happy to help with luggage if that is your main concern. We really loved the fact that our room was tucked away from all the other rooms – up the main stairs, then down a corridor, though a fire escape door, up another set of stairs. This turned out to be the only room on the top level – a rather exclusive retreat.
Breakfast the next day was served downstairs at the Scarlett Restaurant and was included in our room package. The continental buffet was good but not overwhelming in choice: yoghurt, bread, pastries and jam were the main items to find here. The breakfast menu is a better deal in my view as it features great sweet and savoury options that will please anyone.
The kids indulged on fresh pancakes and I opted for the quintessential avo on sourdough with two perfectly poached eggs. If your breakfast is included in the room rate then you can choose one hot item from the menu and make use of the buffet as well. Should it not be included in your room rate, then a-la-carte menu will be the better option.
Let me finish this review with a bonus tip to help you get around the area. The Rocks is really my most favourite part of Sydney, and if you stay at the Harbour Rocks Hotel there will be no excuse why you wouldn’t want to try a least a couple of the suggestions below. Overnight parking is just $20 on weekends at Wilsons Parking opposite the hotel, otherwise $45 if validated by the front desk staff.
We had a fantastic night at the Harbour Rocks Hotel and I am more than happy to recommend it to families and couples seeking a relaxing stay in a pretty hotel in a great historic Sydney location. For more info, room rates and to book, please check out the official website here: http://www.harbourrocks.com.au/
To book, please consider using the link provided, which is powered by Booking.com, one of most reputable online hotel booking sites. A booking via this link will pay me a small commission which will help support the blog. Many thanks.
More photos on the bottom of this post!
Top 5 restaurants and cafes to try in The Rocks:
- Pony’s Dining – modern Australian cuisine
- La Renaissance Patisserie Café– a little bit of Paris
- Sake Restaurant & Bar – Japanese speciliaties
- The Fine Food Store – loved the breakfast here
- Pancakes on the Rocks – a family favourite
Top 5 attractions to see/do in The Rocks:
- Susannah’s Place – historic worker’s terraces frozen in time
- The Rocks Discovery Centre – free museum about the history of The Rocks
- The Dig – archeological site right under the YHA, free to visit
- The Rocks Market – every Saturday and Sunday
- Australian Museum of Contemporary Art – also have a snack on the rooftop terrace with great views
Top 5 bars/pubs to visit in The Rocks:
- The Glenmore (rooftop terrace boasts great harbour views)
- Fortune of War (often with live music and a lively atmosphere)
- Harts Pub (great bar menu)
- The Push (pork cracklings for bar snacks)
- Lord Nelson (rumoured to be one of the oldest pubs in Australia)