Shangri La Sydney, a luxury hotel brand whose very name derives from a mythical place, is in a prime location of not so mythical Sydney. It boasts views of world famous landmarks, but all is not what it would seem. And thus deserves an equally British characterisation. But why?
I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled on Australia no less than 4 times, and this was a short 2 night stopover in Sydney before heading for Airlie & the Hamilton Islands.
After a long flight in I wanted to have a place to unwind in a little luxury before venturing out into the heat and humidity of Queensland again.
Arrival & Check-in
Clocking over 20 hours of flying we landed in Sydney International Airport just before 11am. It was a 30 minute Uber ride that cost just under $60. This Shangri-La is located on the Rocks near CBD and moments away from the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House
We arrived just past 1pm into a very busy lobby. Our room would not be ready till 3pm the earliest, the advertised check-in time. The staff offered to take our bags and we went for a walk. The lobby itself looked rather drab and not insta worthy!
I booked the Executive Opera House City King at 415 AUD per night through booking.com, a site I use for convenience and the fact that most of the rooms offer free cancellation until the day/2 day before in most cases.
It hadn’t dawned on my at the time that I was a Shangri-La Circle Jade member, courtesy of my Amex Platinum which comes with benefits such as early/late checkout and a space available room upgrades.
Unfortunately, when I showed the staff my membership, they were rather firm nn their stance that I could not enjoy any of those membership benefits as I did not book directly. Yet another rookie hotel booking fail for me then 😛
Shangri La Sydney Executive Opera House City King
Walking into the room, while everything smelt freshly cleaned, the old school dated vibes continued…
Even though this is a more premium room, the king size bed dominates most of the space. One side of bed you have mini fridge and a side console area. Which sort of doubles up as a vanity unit. On other side you have a small corner seating sofa with a coffee table and lamp.
It was a nice immaculately presented room, but the general deco and furnishings have certainly seen better days. Yes this included the tech itself. It was all most likely the height of luxury a decade past.
As for the views, this was the best it got..
You only see this when standing/sitting on one corner of the room, if you move further away you will only see other buildings.
In front of the bed you have a desk with leather swivel chart and a sideboard/TV unit with a 42″ TV
The carpet while looking tired were clean and still comfortable to walk in bare feet.
Oh and this was a night view from the room, which you can’t deny is still rather spectacular..
Shangri La Sydney Bathroom
The bathroom suite is well appointed and similarly feels like you are in a old classic English hotel somewhere in the country..
The half wall and half marble tile finishing felt all too beige. Everything however functioned well. It was stocked with L’Occitane toiletries which you would expect from a 5* hotel of this calibre..
It’s always nice to have a separate shower cubicle
Facilities & Around the Hotel
Amongst the 36 floor of the building the hotel features the Chi Spa which is pleasant but again not the dreamy sanctuary you might find in other high end hotels.
They do have a double treatment room which is quite handy if you like getting getting pampered with your partner. Treatments were on the pricey side though!
All your wellness needs are covered here with a full gym, heated indoor pool and sauna..
There were many people using all the facilities so I was unable to take pictures without other people being inadvertently being captured in it :/ I did like a nice dip in the pool though which was soothing.
Shangri-La Sydney Altitude Dining
One of the determining factors for me booking this hotel was the Altitude. I’m a total sucker for high rise restaurant with great city views and this promised to delivery with the most amazing backdrop of glitzy Sydney..
For our first day/night we had other plans but wanted to have food here the second and last night only to find out the whole space was reserved for a private event! This was very disappointed, as I did not feel like this was communicated to guests staying here.
It was rather silly of me not to have pre-booked our table in advance in which case I would have known this. Off course you don’t even have to be a guest to eat here but we planned to have a nice dinner hear before our morning flight out of Sydney and never got around to it in my 3 other visits to Sydney!
Best Way to Book Shangri-La Sydney
In hindsight, I did not book this for the best possible experience, by resorting to a defacto app I use for many of my hotels.
There are better ways to book some luxury hotels through service providers and agencies working with them such as Virtuoso, where even if you pay the same rate, you get some extras thrown in such as late/early check-in, room upgrades and even dining credits thrown in!
The annoying thing is I knew these services existed, but it didn’t occur to me to use it! For the same price I could have enjoy the Premier Harbour room with $100 dining credit thrown in!
I enjoyed my stay in here, and as far as everything with the room or service, I couldn’t fault anything to the point that it was an issue. However, that is still a far cry from experiencing a level of luxury that is effortless. The entire hotel needs full renovation to bring it up-to modern standards.
Refresh aside, do not expect the same level of service as you might get in the Shangri-La in Singapore, Hong Kong or London. The bed itself was supremely comfy both at core and down to the luxurious high thread count sheets. Was it worth the $415 per night? Absolutely not. But then again it was peak summer in Australia.
I was also considering the Four Season nearby, but that itself looked old & in desperate need of a makeover! Going forward I would use an agency mentioned above to get some of the perks in which case this could make it worthwhile.
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