Savvy business traveller Chris Pritchard has been covering the pitfalls of corporate and executive travel for more than 20 years. As our resident Business Travel Guru, he imparts his expertise so that your next journey is as easy as a stroll down Wall Street.
Of Australia’s 20.5 million residents, one in five calls Sydney home. Our biggest city battles stiff competition from Melbourne and Brisbane but still anchors much of the nation’s business action. What’s more, as tourists enthuse, it’s an exceedingly pleasant place to be. The Opera House, sharing iconic status with the Harbour Bridge, is a reminder of water-hugging Sydney’s artistic and cultural clout, while restaurants and nightlife are arguably Australia’s best. It’s also our most expensive city, and travellers shouldn’t expect the same value as in other state capitals. It’s a price residents seem happy to wear.
Sydney Airport is only 8km from downtown hotels; off-peak, you could be in your room 25min after leaving the terminal. Taxis ($30 to CBD hotels) are more efficient than the train (every 10min, 13min to the city, $12.20). Or, follow signs to shuttle minibuses operated by different companies, with KST Sydney Airporter ($10) dropping at hotels.
taxi: 13 33 00
train/bus/ferry: 13 15 00
KST sydney airporter: (02) 9666 9988, www.kst.com.au
A close-to-the-city airport sees many regulars opt for cheaper airport hotels (Holiday Inn, Mercure, Stamford etc). If your company’s deal is with a big hotel or serviced apartment chain, almost all are in or near the CBD. Sydney hotels charge more than in other cities but discounts are common, so ask. Alternatives include ultra-stylish Establishment (from $350), where five-star post-industrial warehouse luxury creates a minimalist-cool bolthole for low-profile big names. The historic Russell (from $235), where the city meets the colonial-era Rocks, offers a tasteful country-house ambience favoured by solo female execs; a rooftop garden supplies exquisite skyline views. Darlinghurst’s hip Kirketon (from $220) attracts advertising, music and media trendies. Heart-of-the-city Blacket (from $285), in a reborn 1850s bank is also very popular with women travellers. Great-value Pensione (from $99) boasts spiffily mosaic-tiled bathrooms in a heritage building reminiscent of upper-level European pensiones. Darling Harbour’s apartment-style Grand Mercure (from $309) is a spacious bargain when two travellers are teamed.
establishment: (02) 9240 3100, www.establishmenthotel.com
russell: (02) 9241 3563, www.therussell.com.au
kirketon: (02) 9332 2011, www.kirketon.com.au
blacket: (02) 9279 3030, www.theblacket.com
pensione: (02) 9265 8888, www.pensione.com.au
grand mercure: (02) 9563 6666, www.accorhotels.com.au
Tetsuya’s is tops; you’ll be fondly recalled for allowing contacts to sample its unique spin on Japanese-French fusion. Delicate and decadent fare includes marinated trevally with preserved lemon on sushi rice or tataki of venison with rosemary and honey. Aria basks in a setting alongside the Opera House, highlighting fresh NSW produce in mod-Oz style. Under the Opera House’s giant concrete ribs, Guillaume at Bennelong is subdued and well-spaced for business conversation. Glass at the recently refurbished Sydney Hilton, helmed by chef Luke Mangan, is noisier (with kitchen views) but bustling with business types; better for cementing relationships than dissecting contractual nuances. (Try slow-roasted sirloin of beef). Wildfire on the water’s edge has alfresco tables and, with a Med-meets-mod-Oz-meets-South-American theme, serves succulent steaks and superb seafood. Or, with time, suggest a 20min cab to famed Bondi Beach’s Icebergs dining room and bar where unsurpassed beach views accompany an Italianate take on modern Australian, featuring memorable Balmain bug salads.
tetsuya’s: (02) 9267 2900, www.tetsuyas.com
aria: (02) 9252 2555, www.ariarestaurant.com
guillaume at bennelong: (02) 9241 1999, www.guillaumeatbennelong.com.au
glass: (02) 9265 6068, www.glassbrasserie.com.au
wildfire: (02) 8273 1222, www.wildfiresydney.com
icebergs dining room and bar: (02) 9365 9000, www.idrb.com
Let’s assume you seldom visit and have limited time. The Rocks is worth a ramble, perhaps sampling one of many old pubs such as the low-beamed Hero of Waterloo. Hottest ticket in town (from $169) is climbing (more a steep walk, really) Sydney Harbour Bridge. Guided tours explore Sydney Opera House ($23), the leading showcase for opera, concerts, ballet and drama. The Australian Museum ($10), among the best of its ilk, features themed exhibitions encompassing science, history and culture. The Art Gallery of NSW (free; fees for special events) hangs classical, modern and photographic works. A half-hour stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens leads to the Opera House and Circular Quay, alongside which the Museum of Contemporary Art (free; fees for special events) emphasises the experimental.
hero of waterloo: (02) 9252 4553
sydney bridgeclimb:(02) 8274 7777, www.bridgeclimb.com
sydney opera house: (02) 9250 7111, www.sydneyoperahouse.com
australian museum: (02) 9320 6000, www.amonline.net.au
art gallery of nsw: (02) 9225 1744, www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au
museum of contemporary art: (02) 9245 2400 www.mca.com.au
Best of multicultural restaurant strips: King St, Newtown (a 10min cab from city hotels). Busiest nightlife zone with pubs and clubs: Kings Cross, where Darlinghurst Rd is seediest, Kellett St displays a grungy upmarket edge and Macleay St has excellent eateries. Other strolling districts include Darling Harbour, Cockle Bay, Chinatown and King St Wharf – all with restaurants and bars aplenty. Refurbished, the ornate Capitol and State Theatres commonly have major musicals or pop acts, while the CBD’s Basement is Australia’s pre-eminent jazz venue featuring local and foreign headliners. Good bars? Belgian-accented Heritage and Germanic Bavarian Bier Cafe are welcoming quaffing spots where lone travellers easily fall in with friendly locals. Star City Casino, adjoining Darling Harbour, has customary table games – with bars, restaurants and a theatre – but seems more attuned to gamblers than other spenders compared with other Aussie casinos.
capitol theatre: (02) 9320 5000, www.capitoltheatre.com.au
state theatre: (02) 9373 6852, www.statetheatre.com.au
basement: (02) 9251 2797.
heritage: (02) 9241 1775, www.belgian-beer-cafe.com.au
bavarian bier cafe: (02) 8297 4111, www.bavarianbiercafe.com
star city casino: (02) 9777 9000, www.star.com.au
1. They cost no more (unlike in some state capitals) so book Silver Service cabs (13 31 00), the industry’s top-of-the-market niche, for cleaner cars with well-dressed, knowledgeable drivers. If one isn’t available, they’ll send a regular cab.
2. A tip from leading photographers: Taronga Zoo (02 9969 2777, www.zoo.nsw.gov.au, $32) is, aside from extensive animal collections, unrivalled for views of Sydney’s skyline.
3. Chinatown, at the CBD’s southern end, is better for solo meals than coffee shops in or near the Rocks where prices are geared to overseas tourists.