Old Jul 19, 17, 11:23 pm
Join Date: Oct 2012
Programs: DL Diamond, UA Silver, HHonors Diamond, Marriott Ambassador
Posts: 845
Hilton Sydney and Sydney sights

Hilton Sydney
Number of nights: 3
Elite Tier: Diamond
Cost: 118,000 HHonors Points
Cash Cost: $608 USD
Redemption Value: .51 cents/point

Initially I had booked the Sheraton on the Park with cash -- it came out to about $509 all-in for the three nights I was looking at (didn't consider points since it was 48,000 SPG points for the three nights which I felt was poor value). I stayed here with my parents over the NYE period last year when we visited Sydney and did not have a great experience -- much contrary to what those on the SPG forum think.

The Hilton wanted 150,000 HHonors points for the three night stay, which I also felt was poor value.

Then, 2 days before arrival the Hilton dropped to 118,000 points for the stay, which I bit. Thought I would try a new SYD property and was eager to not have to stay at the Sheraton again anyways, and the Hilton Sydney is generally well-regarded among Hilton properties in AUS/NZ.

I arrived at the hotel after taking the airport train from SYD around 8:30am, and walking the rest of the two blocks to the hotel from St. James station. SYD locals will know the airport train is quite convenient if you are going between the CBD and the airport (though expensive). I know very early check-ins plague the SYD hotel scene since so many flights arrive in the early morning, so much so the Marriott at Circular Quay apparently has a special lounge area specifically for early check-ins.

Thankfully it's low season in SYD and the friendly agent confirmed that while my room was not ready, it would be ready within an hour and invited me to have breakfast in the executive lounge and wait.

Apparently the highest room category the Hilton Sydney grants Diamonds is the "Relaxation Room" which is an open layout type room -- all the rooms below this category apparently are quite small. The associate mentioned I had been upgraded to a "Deluxe Room Plus" on the top floor -- no Relaxation Rooms were coming available within the hour. This was fine with me since I was by myself and didn't plan on being in the room that much anyways.

This was a huge improvement over the Sheraton which wanted to charge for early check-in after declining a Platinum Your24 benefit. The associate also asked for a phone number so she could text me when my room was ready, and phoned the EL to let them know I was coming upstairs. Off to a good start.

Check-In area: much more grand and updated space than the Sheraton, I thought.

The Executive Lounge is located on the 36th floor, which is not actually the highest floor in the hotel (which is the 43rd floor). On this particular Friday morning, there was no crowd. I mostly had the lounge to myself.

I got some light food and a double espresso (a double short black as you Ozzies call it) from the Nespresso machine.

I always notice produce in Australia/New Zealand to be on the.... Drier side. My assumption is since they can't grow this year, it all has to be shipped in from somewhere else.

The smoked salmon was actually of quite a high quality -- none of the fatty, chewy stuff you find in the States.

Was thankful for the fruit selection. Wish they had berries but understandably they are hard to come by in this part of the world.

EL mostly empty -- it's actually quite a nice space and I prefer it to the lounge at the Sheraton. This feels a little more open and like there are different areas you can choose from.

Berenberg Jam! A favorite of my mother's. I was tempted to steal one or two to bring back to her but decided it wasn't worth the trouble attempting to stuff jam of all things into my quart-sized bag for liquids.

After catching up on some email (note you need to get a WiFi code from the lounge attendant) and having some fruit and coffee, the main lounge concierge walked over to inform me my room was ready. Slightly over the 1-hour mark, but not too bad. It was nice she proactively came over to find me -- probably because I was one of three people in the lounge.

I received a Deluxe Room Plus on the 43rd floor, far from the elevator (my preference). Note these rooms are exactly the same as the entry level rooms, but are on a higher floor (the "Deluxe" part) and apparently come with a 375ml bottle of wine and 2 bottled waters (the "plus") part.

First impression is that the rooms are quite small, but the space is used quite efficiently.

Note the shower is separated from the bedroom by frosted glass (directly behind the chair in the picture below). This could be a privacy issue if you are traveling with someone who you are not as close with.

The sink area is actually quite tight and I can't imagine more than one person's personal effects fitting on the counter here.

Overall, the room was clean, modern, and well-appointed. Nothing too out of the ordinary from your normal city-center Hilton. A personalized letter of Diamond benefits was also given to me but I forget the contents. All the standard stuff of course, though I did remember Diamonds receive both a 1,000 point welcome amenity and full breakfast buffet at Glass brasserie (the Hilton Sydney's on-site celebrity chef inspired restaurant).

Also -- water pressure here was fantastic. I swear this hotel may take top marks for efficiency in cleansing (minus water usage, of course).

After getting settled, I ventured downstairs to avail myself of a quick workout, having been gorging on catered food and sleeping nearly the past 20 hours.

One excellent thing is that the Hilton actually owns a real gym (Living Well gym), that is part of the building. Living Well gym actually sells real gym memberships and isn't just your normal "fitness room" you find at many hotels. Hotel guests receive free access via their key card. This alone, for me, would be a key factor of coming back to stay here.

The gym is well-appointed and quite large. I believe you can actually receive a quick fitness consultation from a personal trainer complimentary if you are a hotel guest, but I did not inquire.

After a workout (it's amazing how weak you feel after sitting on your butt for 20 hours and flying transpacific) and a shower, I did some more work and then ventured out for a quick jaunt around town.

I've been to Sydney before but missed the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and the Royal Botanic Gardens last time, so those were my main points of interest tonight before meeting up with friends.

Beautiful QVB. Boring shops but nice place to walk around.

Fountain at Hyde Park on the way to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Out of the many, many pictures from the Royal Botanic Gardens, this is the only one I felt worth sharing. The gardens are beautiful, but it behooves you to walk to the end (Mrs. Macquarie's Point) to get a beautiful view of the Sydney skyline, the Opera Building, and Harbour Bridge.

I lucked out with my timing (yes slightly filtered but you get the idea).

I also really lucked out with the weather -- but apparently Sydney is like this in the winter (what a pity!). 65 and sunny? I wouldn't complain if I were you, Sydney-siders.

Spent too much time at the park and then my friend called as the end of the work day was nearing. I walked back to the CBD, and we grabbed a drink near the Opera house with some other friends as our dinner reservation was not until 8pm.

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