Despite Hotel Palisade dashing makeover, Lara Picone wonders if staying in a boutique hotel above a pub is ever a good idea?

My heart pounds as the fog of waking abruptly recedes. I connect the pieces of a loud commotion outside (made more difficult thanks to a few whiskies): sirens approach, lots of them, and there’s some shouting… fire?

But there’s no smoke. Some sort of a fray, perhaps?

A glance out the window reveals the scene; four police cars with their sirens blaring converge on the road below and their occupants bolt into the Hotel Palisade, my roost for the night. I do what any unflustered, calm person would do, shout ‘police!’ and run onto the balcony to investigate.

The curious shape of the 1912 public house affords me two angles from which to witness the entertainment. But there’s not much action save a few tipsy patrons making their way home and some bored-looking plain clothes policemen loitering by their cars.

A cigarette, dropped from one of the hotel balconies above, bounces off my head and onto the ledge next to me, glowering like a discarded lover.

There’s nothing left to see here, so I return to the queen-sized bed next to my husband, who has remained determinedly asleep throughout the whole ordeal.

I’ve never slept above a pub before, but I imagine this kind of excitement is to be expected, no matter how beautifully styled the rooms may be – and they are.

When you slide an eight-room boutique hotel between a pub and a cool bar, there are going to be a few nights where things get rowdy and, for me, it was all part of the fun (a second night of the same might change my opinion).

But prior to my unexpected awakening, there hadn’t been a peep from either bar nor pub.

The almost precarious-looking building presides over the new Barangaroo Reserve, but this old dame has been around since wharfies flocked to her geometric structure to sustain themselves with ales and escape their working-class woes.

Millers Point, being a part of Sydney’s ‘old town’ has a certain bygone charm and the Hotel Palisade is perhaps the most charming of all the buildings in The Rocks.

The interior renovation has been sympathetic to this icon’s original assets, while nudging it into a more modern aesthetic with chic flourishes by stylist Sibella Court.

An historical Australian figure lends their name to each room. Our ghostly host is artist Alice Muskett, unbeknownst to her of course – she  died in 1936.

Alice would have enjoyed the views of the Harbour Bridge from the balcony, but had she been of ample girth I doubt she would’ve felt comfortable in this compact room.

The bathroom, though lovely in its modernised Federation-style, is a bit awkward. Drying yourself without becoming entwined in the adorable octopus-print shower curtain is a feat.

It calls to mind the hotel’s logo of a man wrestling a human-size cephalopod – I wonder if that’s the intended reference?

Earlier, on our way down to dinner, we peeked in at a deluxe room next door and found it to be far more spacious; still, I wonder who stays here?

For the same price you could find a room closer to the city. We soon bumped into the answer: a gaggle of girls here for a hen’s night.

They need only stumble down from the sleek upstairs bar, Henry Dean, to their rooms at the end of the night. Hopefully without a police escort.

Details: Hotel Palisade

Where: 35 Bettington Street, Millers Point, Sydney;

Verdict: Great for a drink ’n’ drop night out.

Score: 3/5

We rated: The stunning interior design.

We’d change: The price for the size, location, and lack of service is quite steep.

Notes: We paid $320 for a standard room.

All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.