A glamorous new look for the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel

The historic hotel is relaunching this September following a top-to-bottom transformation.

By Chris Ashton, May 31 2024
A glamorous new look for the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel

The year is 1966. Harold Holt is Australia’s Prime Minister, The Beatles are busy recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Qantas – then known as Qantas Empire Airways – has just opened the Wentworth Hotel, Australia’s first five-star international hotel.

Adjacent to the dramatic curve of Qantas House at Chifley Square, in Sydney’s Hunter Street, the Wentworth is a symbol of the jet era; sleek, modern, and innovative, there are glittering rooms and bars designed for kicking up your heels, plus a city terminal next door where guests can transfer onto a flight at Mascot.

The original lobby inside Wentworth Hotel.
The original lobby inside Wentworth Hotel.

Almost 60 years and three owners later, it’s now the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, having joined the Accor stable in 2002.

And in just a few months it’s set to emerge from a $60 million makeover that’ll see it through many decades yet to come.

Given past hotel guests include the late Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana, Bill Gates, and the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, Sofitel is no doubt aiming for the stars with this latest look.

Led by Melbourne design firm Fender Katsalidis, which is also behind The Darling Sydney’s recently-upgraded suites, the transformation spans all 436 guest rooms and suites, together with the wellness centre, lobby and club lounge.

First look at the new Sofitel Sydney Wentworth.
First look at the new Sofitel Sydney Wentworth.

Based on renderings ahead of the September relaunch, it appears to be just what the hotel needs to reclaim its place among the best five star hotels in Sydney, of which numbers have skyrocketed in the decades since its debut.

Karen Morris, Associate Principal, Fender Katsalidis says the team’s honoured to be part of the refurb, describing its goal as one to “revitalise the guest experience while preserving the hotel’s rich cultural and social heritage, re-establishing its position as a luxury hotel destination.”

Historic photos of the Wentworth Hotel.
Historic photos of the Wentworth Hotel.

Another key element is the creation of a signature dining precinct featuring two restaurants and bars, in collaboration with local group House Made Hospitality.

Known for Sydney hangouts Martinez restaurant and the dimly-lit drinking den Apollonia, House Made is bringing that same flair to a ground floor seafood grill and bar, with an emphasis on storytelling and native ingredients.

The level five rooftop will soon be a leafy oasis.
The level five rooftop will soon be a leafy oasis.

The sprawling level five rooftop will also host a grandiose French-Vietnamese restaurant, expected to transport diners to a 1920s villa in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, complete with “the faded patina of old-worth elegance”, plus an equally vibrant bar spilling onto the terrace.

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth is positioned in the financial hub of the city, in walking distance of Circular Quay and the Botanic Gardens, or a 20-25 minute drive from Sydney Airport.

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 45

Interesting that the 5th floor outdoor terrace is being reopened.  In the late 1960s it was closed because high winds swirling round the curve of the building lifted furniture (chairs & tables) into the windows & doors causing great damage, and risk of injury to patrons & staff.  I can’t believe that weather has changed since then.  I hope the designers have taken this into account.

I used the bus stop on the opposite side of the road and it was always windy, even on the calmest days.

British Airways - Executive Club

18 Oct 2012

Total posts 1

Worked as a banquet waiter there when I was a uni student. Spent quarantine there (and they were amazing) in 2021. They had a band playing on the terrace a couple of evenings during quarantine. Fond memories. Will definitely visit.

Aegean Airlines - Miles & Bonus

16 Jul 2019

Total posts 25

It's been a Sheraton, then Rydges, then Sofitel. I remember all three well. 

I haven't lived in Sydney or Oz for 12 years but it's great to see (even if it's mainly through the reporting of websites like this)  Sydney's hotel scene re-vitilising in the last few years. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2016

Total posts 6

If ever a hotel needed a refit it was this one. The Ex Lounge has always been good & with updated rooms I will be looking forward to a future stay when staying that end of town.

I will never forget the Ayers Rock grill when it was a Sheraton. It was sensational (for the 60 and 70s!).

i have always found the rooms feel small...maybe fresh colors and a refurb will help.

I will certainly stay/test again, now it is being refreshed.

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