Sydney’s Observatory Hotel: I’m Your Venus

The Observatory Hotel’s genteel lobby

(G)astronomic Delights And Stellar Experiences Will Have You Seeing Stars

images by John Douglas,

On the other side of Sydney’s most recognisable attraction is a little-visited part of the city that surprises in its quietness, but not its convenience. The Observatory Hotel, a member of the Orient-Express Group, is located on the west side of the city’s famous Harbour Bridge in a neighbourhood that still has a community feel to it, giving visitors the chance to step back in time to a Sydney more like a friendly Australian town than a busy city.

The Observatory Suite is a sophisticated retreat from the outside world

The same characteristics can be attributed to The Observatory Hotel. Harking back to a grander era of refined taste, The Observatory this year is celebrating fifteen years of operation—all of them under the leadership of Mr Patrick Griffin, who has been the man in charge at the property since its opening in 1993, making him the longest-serving general manager in Australia.

There’s a lot to celebrate. A discreet property with emphasis on personal service, The Observatory is reminiscent of a European hotel where very proper travellers rested before the next leg of their Grand Tour. While all the rooms enjoy spaciousness and fine appointments, The Observatory Suite stands out particularly as a wonderful home away from home. Few hotel suites in Sydney offer a working fireplace; on a clear winter night, its warmth is both figurative and literal. Amid classic, traditional decor set off by colourful Chinese furnishings and ceramics, the overall effect is that of replicating the home of a wealthy merchant of yesteryear who enjoys the best the world has to offer.

the pool and its night sky

Sydney locals as well as the city’s business and leisure visitors appreciate this fact. On a recent Wednesday, in the middle of winter, with no special festivals or events taking place at the nearby Wharf Theatre (home to the Sydney Dance Company and NAM), the hotel was fully booked. And just try getting an appointment for a treatment in The Day Spa, location of the beautiful swimming pool and its famous start-studded ceiling which accurately depicts the night sky. It must be wonderful to know your product is so much in demand; good word of mouth among the city’s elite no doubt ensures that it stays that way.

Touches saluting the importance and mystique of astronomy abound at The Observatory, whose Galileo Restaurant and Globe Bar serve as the venues for dining experiences at the hotel. Galileo’s recent employment of chef Masahiko Yomoda has seen a new vein of creativity running through the kitchen, bringing unexpected twists to classic dishes. Sommelier Christian Baeppler embodies the perfect European gentleman looking after his houseguests with utmost consideration while assisting in the selection of the evening’s wine. The Globe Bar’s high tea is an afternoon favourite; tea at The Observatory is a high art, with tea appreciation classes and tea-leaf readings offered to those for whom tea is key.

The Sydney Observatory, for which the hotel is named, is just across the street

Packages are available at The Observatory to celebrate special occasions or simply to escape to the other side of Sydney. The Museum of Contemporary Art is just a short amble away, the Sydney Theatre Company is even closer; for locals treating themselves to a stay at The Observatory, it’s a great pleasure to attend a performance and simply stroll back to the hotel afterward.

Sydney Observatory itself is well worth a visit; it, too, recalls an earlier era when life was simpler. Under the two-tonne, twin copper domes sit two telescopes, one a classic from the 1800’s, the other a supermodern, computerised Meade machine capable of finding planets and stars on its own with a push of a few buttons. As at its namesake hotel across the street, great forethought and care were part of the planning and construction of the observatory, which sits in a privileged location looking over the harbour. For hotel guests who like their privacy, private tours of the observatory can be booked.
Source = Mr. eTraveller
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