Review: Hilton Sydney hotel

It’s a bold move when one of Australia’s best-known business hotels removes the traditional in-room work desk…

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, May 3 2021
Hilton Sydney hotel
Country

Australia

City

Sydney

Hotel

Hilton Sydney

Rating

5-star

Room

King Premium Room

Notes
The Good
  • Great central location
  • Recently-refurbished guestrooms
The Bad
  • True Executive Lounge remains closed (but there are F&B alternatives)
X-Factor
  • Rooms now feel more spacious after rethinking the work desk
Location
Rooms
Meals
Overall

Introduction

Offering 587 recently-refurbished rooms in the centre of the CBD, Hilton Sydney is a go-to for many business travellers: particularly as borders come down and businesses across Australia – and now, New Zealand – get back on the road.

But for some travellers, a contentious aspect of the refurb has been the removal of full working desks and office chairs in the hotel’s guestrooms, replaced by a multi-purpose table and a smaller, fixed-height leather seat.

Executive Traveller checked into the updated Hilton Sydney to bring you this review and put that new work setup through its paces.

Location & Impressions

Running between George Street and Pitt Street in the CBD with entrances on both sides, Hilton Sydney enjoys an excellent location, being just across the road from the iconic Queen Victoria Building. 

In the blocks that surround, you'll find ANZ, Citibank, and State Street Corporation offices.

When your visit instead allows for some much-deserved downtime, you'll find shopping and dining at QVB, with Pitt Street Mall and Westfield Sydney also just around the corner.

The nearest train station is Town Hall just one block away, but if yours is a short journey, there's a light rail stop (QVB) at Hilton's doorstep, whisking you to places like Circular Quay in minutes.

Getting in and out of the hotel is easy, with a bank of elevators seeing our longest wait just two minutes from room door to ground floor.

This included comings and goings at what would be peak times for many hotels, including before and after business hours, and around the listed check-in and check-out times (3pm and 11am, respectively).

All credit card payments attract a 1.5% surcharge, as has long been the case at Hilton-branded hotels in Australia. The same rate applies whether you use Visa, Mastercard, AMEX or Diners Club.

Room

With a variety of room types to choose from, I checked into a King Premium Room – upgraded from a King Corner Room, courtesy of my Hilton Honors status – with this Premium Room also being in a corner location.

Not every Premium Room enjoys corner views, but all provide motorised blackout blinds to stop the morning sun, and these worked brilliantly.

Following the hotel's recent refurbishment, the rooms feel more spacious than before as the standalone work desk has been axed, and a comfortable chair takes its place.

Instead, you'll find a table/desk in front of the TV – more on that below – with power points conveniently located throughout the room, including AC and USB slots by the bedside.

On the off chance you need even more power, there's an extra USB slot tucked into each bedside lamp base.

Beyond the expected closet and coffee facilities (sadly, instant rather than pod), the bathroom offers a walk-in shower and a separate bathtub, with robes at-hand.

Amenities are provided by Crabtree & Evelyn.

Although there isn't an expanse of bench space, shelves provide added storage, with an adjustable mirror and a power outlet also close by.

Work

Back to the work desk switcheroo: replacing the floating desk is a table positioned below the TV, with a leather chair replacing the former business chair. 

It's a space-saving idea that certainly makes the area feel more roomy, and you can move that table if you'd rather position yourself with a view, or just away from the wall.

Stay near the TV though, and power points are conveniently available (and accessible) – and better yet, the HDMI ports on the TV aren't locked down, so you can connect your own device to the big screen.

That's handy whether you want to turn the TV into a makeshift computer monitor, or just use the TV to stream your favourite shows, which the WiFi was speedy enough to support in HD.

When Hilton first revealed the refurbishment, a number of Executive Traveller readers expressed concern over the chair situation: but fear not, you can request an office chair to the room if you prefer.

Having worked from the room for a day and trying both options, I actually preferred the new leather chair – the height was perfect, and the seat itself offered good back support without becoming uncomfortable over an extended period.

Eat

You'll find no shortage of food and beverage options at Hilton Sydney, with Luke Mangan's Glass brasserie and wine bar taking pride of place serving most guests.

This includes travellers who'd normally have access to the hotel's Executive Lounge – such as Hilton Honors Diamond members – as the lounge remains closed for now.

Instead, lounge-eligible guests can enjoy complimentary canapés at Glass between 5pm and 7pm.

A selection of beer, wine and spirits are also included during this window with a menu detailing your options, as well as more premium picks available at a charge.

The Little Leaf Australian sparkling wine was enjoyed in the ‘lounge’, before switching to the restaurant venue for a proper dinner.

To begin, fresh focaccia with lemon myrtle olive oil and dukkha, paired with Glass’ signature cocktail, ‘The Australian by Luke Mangan’. 

Blending Martell VSOP cognac with gin, Cointreau, kaffir lime, ginger and cranberry, it was the perfect balance of sweet and sour, and the citrus flavour paired well with the main course: grilled barramundi.

Served with a peach salad – and with a side of truffle mash added too – the meal proved flavourful and filling, but still with room left for dessert.

I often find dessert menus can be rather predictable – something with chocolate or strawberry, ice creams and cheese plates the common headliners – so it was great to find something different from the norm, being Luke Mangan’s liquorice meringue roll.

A signature of Mangan’s that’s updated seasonally, the current dish goes strong on lime and mint, and gets the size right, being neither too large and rich, nor too small leaving you wishing there were more.

Fast-forward to breakfast and the self-serve buffet is back, with a variety of chilled and hot items.

Beyond the typical bacon and eggs, expect to find a few choices closer to brunch than breakfast, such as gyoza, meats, crudites and salad.

Of course, those other brekky favourites aren’t far away – nor are poached eggs, just outside of view.

Continental breakfast is complimentary for Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members, as is tea and filtered coffee, although espresso brews attract a $5 charge.

You’re not stung with the ‘coffee tax’ if full breakfast is included with your reservation, with egg dishes including omelettes also available via table service. 

With early morning meetings to race to, prompt barista service and the handy (and fast) buffet was a great way to start the day, and was perfect for this time-poor traveller.

That said, if you’re staying over the weekend, allow plenty of time as there can be a queue to enter the restaurant: particularly later in the mornings after that much-deserved weekend sleep-in. Queues were non-existent during this mid-week stay, however.

Another popular haunt among visitors and locals alike is the iconic Marble Bar.

Do check the latest hours though, as it’s not open every night.

Relax

Hilton Sydney sits above the Fitness First Platinum Pitt Street Gym, with hotel guests enjoying complimentary 24-hour access. 

The well-equipped gym offers a variety of cardio equipment, free weights, fitness classes, and a pool – which is also available to hotel guests, but being part of the public gym, is very much a lap pool rather than a ‘relax by the pool’ space. 

All things considered, when in town for work, Hilton Sydney sits in a great location with amenities tailored to business travellers.

However, with local COVID-safe restrictions allowing the return of self-service buffets, there’s no reason the hotel’s proper Executive Lounge should still remain closed.

Lounges are an amenity that many guests appreciate – particularly as an alternative space to work and relax, not just to grab a drink – and while their initial closure was understandable in 2020, it’s time to “get out from under the doona” in that respect, and back to business. 

Chris Chamberlin stayed as a guest of Hilton Sydney.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 124

Chris, from the room photo it looks like your "best" view was a bunch of other nearby buildings.  Anyone know if high floors have rooms with a more expansive outlook? I'm keen to try the refurbished hotel, it looks and sounds great. Very helpful review.

18 Jul 2018

Total posts 29

If you're on certain sides/corners you would have better views. I stayed recently and I think was on the SW corner so had a view towards Town Hall area which was expansive. Can't remember what floor I was on though.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 3

Ive stayed there twice this year since refurb and concur, its a huge improvement in my humble opinion over the previous iterations. Beware though, restaurant is still not functioning every day which is inconvenient and room service is quite limited in options.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Nov 2016

Total posts 2

hi Chris,

good review of the refurbishment. I'm a Diamond HH member but have not visited since Dec 2019 due to COVID in 2020, but am keen to return, especially once the Executive Lounge returns.

When I was last there in December 2019, Diamond members received the full buffet breakfast at Glass, as opposed to simply the continental breakfast, but it is at the discretion of the hotel (I believe a few years earlier, they had changed to continental for both Diamond and Gold, only to have this reversed for Diamond members).

Can you please confirm whether this is still the case, or as you noted in the piece, Diamond and Gold members only receive complimentary continental breakfast (strictly going by the Hilton Member benefits).

thanks Chris and ET team,
keep up the great work

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 3

Hi Pierrewu

I'm Diamond and stayed at the Syd Hilton in March and April of this year and both times was granted full buffet breakfast at Glass due to Status. No issues at all.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Nov 2016

Total posts 2

thanks davidthomson_98, a relief to hear :-)

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 45

Great review ! I last stayed at the Hilton Sydney in Dec 2017, and the rooms look much better now.

So, self served buffet breakfast is back in Sydney hotels now ? (I live in Melbourne)

And, can any Gold members tell me if they received complimentary continental or buffet breakfast ? (I am planning to visit Sydney for the Vivid festival)

Thank you.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 3

Semi self served @desafinado74. You line up and the chef adds the hot items to your plate you ask for (and yes, you can ask them to be more generous. Juice was not in the typical self serve format but in individual bottles. Quite nice actually. Omelettes and coffee are ordered from the wait staff (no charge unless you are going for an espresso as per normal) etc. I have had the same experience in the Adelaide Hilton and Melbourne Doubletree this year as well.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 45

Thanks a lot for the info David. I am actually going to stay at the Sofitel Darling Harbour, but will pop into the Hilton for the buffet breakfast.


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