After a brief trip to New Zealand, I made my way to Sydney, Australia for the next leg of my journey, kicking things off with a stay at the Shangri-La Sydney.
The hotel is located where the former ANA Harbour Grand Hotel Sydney was, before Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts rebranded the property.
Driven by previous excellent stays with the Shangri-La brand, I was looking forward to having another Shangri-La property under my belt.
In This Post
Shangri-La Sydney – Booking
I qualified for a favourable travel industry rate for my stay. Otherwise, cash rates for a standard room fall around $565 AUD ($380 USD, $500 CAD) or per night.
To unlock further benefits at this property, consider booking your stay through Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Shangri-La’s preferred partner program.
By booking through Shangri-La Luxury Circle with an authorized travel advisor, you can enjoy elite-level benefits without having to work your way up to elite status in the Shangri-La Circle loyalty program. Some of the extra perks include hotel credits, complimentary breakfast, and an upgrade confirmable at the time of booking.
Shangri-La Sydney – Location
The Shangri-La Sydney is ideally situated in The Rocks, a historic and charming area just north of the Central Business District.
The hotel possesses a remarkable location atop a hill, overlooking the stunning Sydney Harbour. However, with that in mind, reaching the hotel with luggage indeed poses a challenge, so you’ll want to take a taxi or Uber.
From the hotel, you can stroll to Circular Quay, a major transportation hub, in just 10 minutes. There, you can hop on trains, busses, and ferries to get around the city with ease.
You can also easily reach the many attractions of The Rocks itself, such as climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, or browsing the Rocks Markets. Most of these attractions are within a 15-minute walk from the hotel.
Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport is a 25-minute journey away from Shangri-La Sydney by vehicle or train. You can take a train from Circular Quay Station to the airport in around 30 minutes, or you can take a taxi or Uber for around $45 AUD ($30 USD, $40 CAD). There are also shuttle and towncar services available.
Shangri-La Sydney – Check-in
The Shangri-La Sydney is located on Cumberland Street. There are two entrances to the hotel – a vehicle entrance on the west side, and pedestrian entrance via stairs on the south side.
Upon arrival, the towering 36-level building harmonizes with the surrounding environment. I was immediately greeted by the hotel staff and escorted to the hotel’s lobby through a set of automatic glass doors.
The lobby had a classic opulence vibe with gold marble, ivory tones, and chandeliers. However, it doesn’t quite match the modern style of Shangri-La’s latest hotels, and felt somewhat dated at first glance.
The check-in desks are immediately in front of you as you enter the hotel, and a handful of couches are on the periphery for seating.
The area immediately next to the check-in desks features some funky carpets and plush furnishings which are part of The Lobby Lounge, which is the area’s small café.
With the completion of check-in, the staff let me know a bit more about the hotel’s dining venue and facilities, and I then made my way over to the elevators and up to Room 1404.
Shangri-La Sydney – Deluxe Darling Harbour Room
Upon entering the room, there’s a closet on your left and then the bedroom lies straight ahead.
The Deluxe Darling Harbour Room has a predominantly neutral aesthetic that is accented by yellow cherry blossom motifs on the carpet and headboard, as well as dark wood furnishings. While it possesses a certain charm, the room isn’t the most stylish and could benefit from a refresh, in my opinion.
The room has a standard layout, with a king bed and a small sitting area. Large windows offer attractive harbour views, with a leather upholstered window seat spanning the length of them.
To the left of the bed, there’s a vanity and minibar, which is where I noticed a bottle of sparkling wine and a note as a welcome gesture.
On the opposite wall, there’s a flat-screen TV that sits on a console.
Adjacent to the TV, there’s a well-appointed desk with ergonomic features, allowing for work or leisure activities.
The room features a spacious bathroom adorned with marble accents. It includes a single vanity with ample countertop space, an adjacent bathtub, and a walk-in shower.
The rooms at the Shangri-La Sydney face Darling Harbour, the Opera House, and Sydney Harbour, in order of desirability. Bear in mind that the Opera House view only has a slight view on the side, and the Sydney Harbour view faces both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House head-on.
Overall, the room provides a standard layout with the necessary amenities; however, I certainly think these rooms could benefit from a refresh in the near future. This is the case with both the bedroom and the bathroom – neither left a particularly lasting impression.
Shangri-La Sydney – Breakfast
Breakfast is served at Altitude, which is all the way up on the hotel’s 36th floor. It’s available weekdays from 6:30–10:30am, and 6:30–11am on weekends.
I found breakfast at Altitude Restaurant to be a real treat, especially with seats facing directly outwards to Sydney Harbour.
The restaurant has modern and elegant décor, with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunning views of the harbour and its iconic landmarks, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
If you’re keen on securing a prime seat by the window, you’ll definitely want to consider arriving early.
The breakfast menu includes both buffet entrée items and a range of à la carte options to choose from.
The hot items at the buffet include some Asian dishes, such as egg noodles, as well as some Western dishes, such as bacon, sausages, hash browns, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and eggs cooked to order.
Some of the highlights of the breakfast buffet are the fresh fruit spread, the charcuterie selection, a salad bar, and pastries.
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Additionally, there’s a station with bottled juices and dispensers.
From the à la carte dishes, some noteworthy choices include an Australian breakfast, breakfast bowls, french toast, waffles, and eggs Benedict.
I gravitated towards the classic eggs Benedict, which I thoroughly enjoyed alongside the panoramic views of Sydney Harbour.
Shangri-La Sydney – Dining
In addition to breakfast, Altitude serves as the hotel’s signature restaurant for lunch and dinner. The restaurant focuses on modern Australian fare, incorporating local produce and an impressive wine selection.
The lunch menu features three-course and five-course set menus, while the dinner menu offers three-course and five-course options at a hefty price.
Moreover, the restaurant offers a high-tea experience.
Blu Bar on 36 is an impressive alternate venue in the hotel. I popped by briefly, and found a sleek and stylish space, with a sweeping view of Sydney Harbour.
The bar is known for its theatrical cocktails and time-honoured classics, as well as innovative drinks.
For more casual dining, there’s The Lobby Lounge, as well as Café Mix.
Cafe Mix is located on the ground floor of the hotel, adjacent to the lobby, which also offers a buffet spread for breakfast and then lunch, dinner and grab-and-go options.
The Lobby Lounge on the other hand, offers a terrace with a beautiful landscaped view and a tranquil koi pond.
Lastly, The Horizon Club Lounge at the Shangri-La Sydney is the hotel’s sophisticated club lounge, reserved exclusively for guests staying in Horizon Club rooms at the hotel.
The lounge offers complimentary breakfasts, canapes, and cocktail hours. There’s also a private boardroom available for those looking for a luxury business venue – with Sydney Harbour views, of course.
Shangri-La Sydney – Other Facilities
The Shangri-La Sydney offers a comprehensive Health Club located on the second level of the hotel. It’s open from 7am–7pm on Monday–Thursday, 7am–8pm on Friday and Saturday, and finally, 7am–7pm on Sunday.
Within the Health Club, there’s a fully equipped fitness centre, indoor swimming pool, hot whirlpool bath, and sundeck.
The fitness centre is fairly comprehensive with 16 cardio machines, including treadmills, cross-trainers, and bikes, as well as dedicated areas for weight training. Workout towels, cold towels, and iced water are all available, as well as a lunch and beverage menu is available directly within the Health Club.
The pool looked like a nice place for swimming a few laps. There’s a whirlpool available in this area, as well as some recliners and chairs dotted around the pool deck. Heading out onto the terrace, you’ll find additional recliners for soaking up the run and relaxing.
Lastly, there’s Chi, a spa that’s also located on the second level of the hotel. The spa draws inspiration from ancient Asian healing and wellness philosophies, and offers six well-appointed treatment rooms.
Overall, the Shangri-La Sydney serves as a respectable hotel in Sydney, although it may not reach the level of top-tier luxury you’d expect from the Shangri-La brand.
The appearance of the hotel is slightly dated, and some elements of the service didn’t quite leave a strong impression.
Highlights of this property include its location in the historic Rocks District and the commanding views of Sydney Harbour. Most notably, its top-floor restaurant and bar, Altitude and Blu Bar on 36, provide sweeping views while you wine and dine.
While the hotel may be lagging behind compared other properties within the Shangri-La portfolio, the restaurant and bar are still worth considering for a visit, whether as part of a stay or simply popping up for a meal or a drink.