Review: A by Adina Sydney, a new benchmark for apartment hotels

Like a model strutting down the runway, this inner-city escape knows how to work its angles.

Overall Rating

By Chris Ashton, May 17 2022
A by Adina Sydney, a new benchmark for apartment hotels
Country

Australia

City

Sydney

Hotel

A by Adina Sydney

Rating

4.5 Stars

Room

One Bedroom Apartment - King

Notes
The Good
  • Stunning interior design
  • Excellent location
The Bad
  • No in-room desk or business lounge
X-Factor
  • Dean & Nancy rooftop cocktail bar
  • Surprisingly well-equipped kitchenette
Location
Rooms
Meals
Overall

Introduction

Dramatic, sculptural, premium. These aren’t words normally associated with apartment hotels. But then, A by Adina Sydney – with its smart rooms, photo-ready styling, and glamorous 50s-themed rooftop cocktail bar – is not your typical example.

Rising 22 stylish levels above the corner of Hunter and George Streets, next door to Australia Square, it’s an elevated take on the classic apartment hotel, one parent company TFE Hotels (Vibe, Travelodge) has spent a great deal of time and attention on. It shows.

Executive Traveller recently ventured inside for a closer look.

Location & Impressions

A by Adina Sydney houses a mix of 194 beautifully-furnished studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, complemented by a covered open-air lap pool, full gymnasium, and the playful Dean & Nancy cocktail bar at its jewel-like apex.

A by Adina rises high above the corner of George and Hunter Streets.
A by Adina rises high above the corner of George and Hunter Streets.

Well located for both business and leisure, it’s an easy walk along George Street to Circular Quay and Martin Place, close to Wynyard Station and the light rail.

Accessed via a discreet rampway with cascading water features on the left and polished brass pipes on the right, guests enter at ground level and then take a swift lift ride up to the light-filled Sky Lobby on level 21.

The entrance is tucked away just of Hunter Street.
The entrance is tucked away just of Hunter Street.

Lifts are designed to be mostly touch-free, with a simple swipe of your RFID room key at the base of the control panel taking you directly to your floor, and a few select touch-screen options including the lobby and swimming pool. Hand sanitiser is provided inside the lift.

On initial arrival, a waiting staff member greets you at ground level and pushes the lobby button.

Zipping up to level 21, the lift opens into a grand, double-height space encased in glass, yet it feels surprisingly intimate and restrained. There is an angled reception desk in the corner, as well as attractive bench and lounge seating. It wouldn’t feel out of place in a lounge bar.

A by Adina Sydney is home to Australia's first hotel sky lobby, located on level 21.
A by Adina Sydney is home to Australia's first hotel sky lobby, located on level 21.

From this vantage, guests have a fantastic bird’s eye view down George Street and across the surrounding rooftops, including to the recently-restored Shell House clock tower.

Room

My L-shaped ‘One Bedroom Apartment – King’ on level 18 boasts a similar corner view.

Once inside you immediately enter the kitchenette area – exceptionally well-equipped with a separate washing machine and dryer, double-plate stove top with range hood, a stainless steel sink, and cabinets and draws filled with every utensil you’d ever need. It’s impressive.

The kitchenette is like a Swiss Army Knife, with utensils tucked neatly out of sight.
The kitchenette is like a Swiss Army Knife, with utensils tucked neatly out of sight.

The minibar is stocked with craft beers, soft drinks and pre-mixed cocktails, as well as snacks like Brookfarm Brothers Blend nuts, Koko Black caramelised coconut chocolate, and crisps.

Moving deeper into the room is the seating area, featuring an attractive four-person lounge and television opposite, an olive-green armchair with coffee table, and a canary yellow chair alongside an oval desk/dining table. There's also a pre-stocked cocktail trolley.

The One Bedroom Apartment - King provides a unique view of Sydney Tower.
The One Bedroom Apartment - King provides a unique view of Sydney Tower.

Part of the A by Adina ethos is to give yourself a little ‘me time’. Cocktails infused with local and native botanicals are just one part of that. A ‘Daily Pause’ grazing box can also be delivered to your room for just $45, including credit that can be used on minibar drinks and snacks.

Rounding the corner is the king-size bedroom, lit only by subtle backlighting from the timber bedhead and bedside lamps. It can be closed off from the seating area with a mirrored door.

A king-size bed dominates the space, yet there's still room to move.
A king-size bed dominates the space, yet there's still room to move.

On the left is an open wardrobe – its dark timber a moody contrast to the light and bright feel in the rest of the room. It has a large shelf for your suitcase, single and double length hanging spaces, multiple draws and shelves, and an iron with ironing board.

This is a smart apartment, with conveniently-placed glass touch panels in the living room and on the right hand side of the bed controlling everything from the lights to air-conditioning and blinds. The television also features Chromecast for binge sessions on the go.

Treat yourself. The minibar is fully stocked with cocktails, or you can order room service.
Treat yourself. The minibar is fully stocked with cocktails, or you can order room service.

Both sheers and blackout curtains wrap around the entire corner of the apartment. When opened, the room is bathed in natural light, particularly in the late afternoon. The reflection of the Sydney Tower in an adjacent office building was an unexpected treat.

The half-tiled bathroom includes a large mirror and small single vanity, plus wall-mounted amenities from Hunter Lab. These can also be purchased on demand via a QR code.

Though a bit on the small side, the bathroom has everything you need.
Though a bit on the small side, the bathroom has everything you need.

It’s a stunningly beautiful apartment, one I could happily return to again and again.

Work

One area where the apartment falls down slightly is as a work-from-hotel space. It’s not bad, but it could be better.

There is no executive lounge onsite, so you’re left to work in your room. And while the canary yellow chair and oval-shaped table are ok for a couple of hours, a larger desk space with charging ports at hand you could spread out on would be more convenient. 

The oval-shaped dining table come work desk is your only in-room option.
The oval-shaped dining table come work desk is your only in-room option.

Perhaps a limited number of rooms could be reconfigured for executives, with a slightly smaller lounge allowing a desk to fit by the wall. 

Eat

Dean & Nancy on level 22 is the hotel’s shining star – a 50s cocktail bar that changes with the setting sun. In the space of only a few hours it can feel like three different venues, as golden hour fades to dusk and the rolling darkness is speckled with lights of nearby towers.

The bar is accessed via a staircase from the Sky Lobby.
The bar is accessed via a staircase from the Sky Lobby.

Accessed via a sculptural, Art Deco-style staircase from the Sky Lobby, you’re immediately transported to a golden age of glamour and style. Just beyond the top step is a grand piano, followed by a wall of wine bottles leading to the main bar.

Knowledgeable staff – infectiously passionate about what they do – are on hand to guide you through the drinks menu, which is designed around the fictional couple Dean and Nancy.

The glass-encased Dean & Nancy changes mood with the light.
The glass-encased Dean & Nancy changes mood with the light.

In addition to staple cocktails, beers, wines and premium spirits, the menu unfolds as a couple’s road trip, with sections divided into topics such as music and food, two cocktail options for each – a his and her perspective that reflects the differing tastes of Dean and Nancy.

Music, for example, sees a Rhapsody in Blue cocktail of Martell VS Cognac, Arbeg 10, PX Sherry and Banana listed for Dean – ‘he goes to the jazz club’, it states.

The Rip it Up cocktail, garnished with a QR code.
The Rip it Up cocktail, garnished with a QR code.

Nancy ‘prefers rock n roll’. To that end is the Rip It Up composed of Chivas 12, Rhubi Mistelle, Montenegro and Lapsang Tea. It’s topped with an edible QR code that whisks drinkers to Spotify and the song Rip It Up by Little Richard. A musical garnish?

In the kitchen, the team includes English and Italian chefs, while bar staff on my visit are a mix of Italian, Chilean, and Ecuadorian. The menu reflects this cultural diversity, a collaborative effort with the South American team members even giving local dishes a seal of approval. 

The menu features mostly bite-size and share dishes, though there are more substantial options.
The menu features mostly bite-size and share dishes, though there are more substantial options.

Clientele is a very broad mix: work colleagues, couples, and girlfriends catching up for drinks. It would make an excellent choice when seeking a memorable space to entertain clients.

Over several lazy hours spent soaking up the vibe, I tuck into a signature lobster roll, followed by zucchini ravioli with goats cheese in a sage butter sauce, a compressed watermelon salad, and paciugo (like a sundae) to finish. Each dish is beautiful to look at and to eat.

Smashed avo on toast for breakfast at Dean & Nancy.
Smashed avo on toast for breakfast at Dean & Nancy.

A la carte breakfast is served in Dean & Nancy Wednesday to Saturday, 7am to 11am. In room dining is available from Hunter House (across the road from the hotel) Monday and Tuesday.

Relax

While there is no spa onsite, guests can make use of the covered swimming pool and fully equipped gymnasium. Note: the pool is open to the elements, so it may be chilly in winter. 

Work off the previous night's visit to Dean & Nancy at the hotel lap pool.
Work off the previous night's visit to Dean & Nancy at the hotel lap pool.

Verdict

From top to bottom, A by Adina is a striking addition to Sydney’s contemporary hotel scene and, dare I say, a new benchmark for apartment hotels. It’s proof that sexy and functional don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

While still a fresh brand for TFE Hotels, with just one other property so far – the similarly-styled A by Adina Canberra, at Constitution Place – there are more to follow in key capital cities. As it grows, I’ll be keen to see if they stick with the same look or adapt to each location.

A by Adina Sydney is a sleek, chic and inviting hideaway worth checking into.

- The writer stayed as a guest of TFE Hotels.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 33

I’m always wary of reviews by journalists who stay “as a guest” of the hotel.  

Not having a proper desk in the room is enough reason for not considering this property on a work trip. 

19 May 2022

Total posts 1

Your experience was better than ours. We stayed at A by Adina over Christmas. The shower head in the bathroom didn't stay up so you had to hang on to while showering. They was no soap in the dispenser in the shower and it wasn't refilled in the three nights we were there. We also didn't get a bath mat to stand on after showering. 


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