This stylish boutique gem is now a real Rocks star.
The doilies are gone. The walls and floors have been stripped back, reworked and revealed. What was once affordable but definitely daggy and stale is now the newest, hottest boutique hotel in Sydney.
The new Harbour Rocks Hotel is a masterpiece of boutique hoteliery, with all the expected quirks and hallmarks that make for a unique place to stay.
The 59-room hotel is the amalgamation of an 1887 bond store and three sandstone terraces. It’s a thoughtful and sympathetic redevelopment that’s cost the owners enormous amounts of time and energy – and close to $10 million. While it may not make sense from a business perspective, it does for guests.
Its rooms are reminiscent of a New York loft apartment. In our studio suite, the white exposed beams amplified the high ceiling and overall spaciousness. The charcoal brick walls added warmth. The furnishings were comfortable and understated, and the king-size bed was smothered in pillows for lounging. The minibar, though, was understocked, if anything.
It was a good sign when my wife felt the carpet and suggested the mocha white herringbone should be remembered when we come to renovate our home. It was luxurious underfoot and warmed the room; however, I wonder how it will wear with the traffic of travellers.
The bathroom was huge and so perhaps a little bare. At booking I rang to ask about bathtubs (it was an early Mother’s Day celebration, so it was kind of important) and was told no rooms had one. So it was a nice surprise to find a tub in our bathroom. The White Company products were dutifully poured in it to aid in the relaxation.
The ambience of the Harbour Rocks Hotel from the outset is chic, warm and personable. A sleek, modern chandelier hangs from the ceiling three stories above in the lounge and lobby atrium. Its elongated cables accentuate the space. The stylish feel continues with white exposed brickwork and archways that divide the lounge from the check-in desk and wine bar. The lobby lounge itself is small and charming with simple sofas and a bookshelf.
The other public areas are all well thought out. The check-in counter shares bench space with the private and secluded HRH Wine Bar – perfect for a pre- or post-meal drink and natter.
Downstairs in the basement of the three terraces next door, the Scarlett restaurant is also intimate and well designed. The sandstone walls reveal the chipping of convict stonecutters. A long sofa bench lines one wall, but hanging lamps that throw soft light onto your table make dining a private affair. Scarlett makes the most of its heritage, with a name inspired by the building’s former use – as a brothel.
Our meal was excellent, even if the menu was a little unadventurous. But it’s a great for a date night in the city.
The central stairwell is the only passage between the floors. During development, the owners had to fight hard against being forced to put in a lift, to remain true to the heritage of the structure (the heritage body was also fighting it – talk about the left hand fighting the right hand in government) so for the immobile or those with prams, ensure you ask for a ground-floor room.
Snugly tucked on quiet Harrington St, one street back from the hurly-burly of George St in Sydney’s historical precinct of The Rocks, the Harbour Rocks is now the value boutique hotel in Sydney. Perfect for a stylish, intimate city escape.
Where: Harbour Rocks Hotel, 34 Harrington Street, The Rocks, NSW.
Notes: Quentin paid $349 for the Studio Suite and booked direct. The entry-level Heritage Room should cost about $220.
Contact: (02) 8220 9999; harbourrocks.com.au
The Verdict: Quentin Long, who paid his own way and visited anonymously, says: “A rock star is born. Beautifully designed and finished, excellent service and great intimate spaces. The Harbour Rocks Hotel is the perfect stylish city weekender.”