Location, location, location. Is it really the only thing that matters? If you’re not in a good location you notice, but if you are in a great location you often take it for granted. When we got back to Sydney we wanted to be closer to the Opera House and nearby attractions. So finding a hotel at the Rocks was perfect. Yes, it’s a touristy area, but hey we are acting like tourists this week anyway. My mom wanted to be as close to the Opera House as possible, but found that this was hard to find. Even the super high end hotels weren’t “that close.” So we searched and Google mapped to no avail that satisfied my mom. She finally settled on “a short walking distance,” but with a view of the Opera House/Bridge.
My mom somehow stumbled upon the Rydges Sydney Harbour. Hmm the pool rooftop views looked too good to be true and distance-wise it was as close as you can get. So why was it so affordable and how was it not sold out? Doing a little research we found that this property was very recently just bought by the Rydges and was previously a Holiday Inn. The new ownership and changing of hands must have something to do with this. Well we thought it would be silly not to take advantage of it being that in a few months when it’s fully functioning as a Rydges property the rate would be a lot higher.
First, I’ll go over the good. The best part of this stay was by far the staff. They were highly trained, super nice, and professional. Everyone we encountered from check in to check out was pleasant, even in not so pleasant conditions. They made it work, or at least were trying to. The small touches were great – they had a luggage scale, durable umbrellas to use in inclement weather, a map showing where guests are from, ice tea and water in the lobby, etc. When the hotel is fully operational these small touches are really what will set them apart, but for the time being they were the highlights. The rooftop pool, although smaller than pictured, is also really great especially for the area. You can some sunshine with a great view of the harbour.
Now the bad, the interior is so outdated. It reminded me of the depression style buildings from back in the day that were just put up as quickly as possible without any style. It was pretty dark and quiet throughout the day. It didn’t seem like a lot of people were staying there the first two nights and there was a lack of life and bustle that you usually find in the lobby areas of hotels. Lack of people and a lack of sound (not even background music) created a very odd vibe.
The rooms were shabby to say the least. When Rydges took over I think they tried to do a very cosmetic/superficial fix straight away with painting the rooms. However, a fresh coat of paint doesn’t help the underlying problems. My biggest issue was the furniture – it was all out of sorts and the desk chair didn’t fit under the desk; this made a small room feel even smaller and cluttered. Two it was just plain old dirty. I went to move the nightstand to plug in my phone and touched gum underneath. My mom smelt a musky/urine small from the bed. When inspecting the mattress they were brand new (and I should mention super comfortable so that’s actually a major plus) and realized the smell was coming from the carpet. Whether the trace was human or from an animal one will never know (animals are not permitted under current ownership). We asked for the carpet and nightstand to be cleaned, but they weren’t. The housekeeping manager wasn’t satisfied and moved us to a new room. No smell in the new room, but it was still pretty dingy and the chair again didn’t fit under the desk, which for some reason really bothered me. The room had TV problems – the remote didn’t connect; the resolution we were given was to hit the remote and stand close to use.
The property’s biggest issue was that it was actually falling apart. When we checked in we were told that there had been some leaking from the rain in some of the upper levels. Okay not a huge issue. By the end of our stay it seemed like there was a lot of leaking everywhere including the lobby with rugs needing to be pulled back and buckets on the ground. I know the building and area in general is old/historic, that is part of the beauty, but is it really fit for people to be staying in at any price point? I’m not sure.
Major renovations need to be done, but then it will be top notch. As it stands now it’s not worth even a budget price point and personally I would have gathered stayed at the Sydney Harbour YHA. I even have to check myself to see if I’m being too harsh and I don’t think I am. The staff here really made a rundown place run smoothly and nicely doing the best that they could with what they were given. I therefore wouldn’t say it was a bad experience, despite all the negatives, because most things were out of the staff’s control. Post-reno I’m going to bet that I would recommend this hotel. At the moment? Only if you get a good deal and want to be in this location and when there’s good weather in Sydney.