Review: Manly Pacific Hotel, a worthy destination beyond Sydney CBD

A beachfront location and rooftop pool aren’t the only reasons this hotel is a breath of fresh air.

Overall Rating

By Chris Ashton, May 20 2024
Manly Pacific Hotel, a worthy destination beyond Sydney CBD
Country

Australia

City

Sydney

Hotel

Manly Pacific Hotel

Rating

5 Stars

Room

Superior Ocean View Room

Notes
The Good
  • Beach Club activity concierge
  • Complimentary welcome drink
The Bad
  • Breakfast buffet very crowded on weekends
X-Factor
  • Rooftop swimming pool
Location
Rooms
Meals
Overall

Introduction

Relaxed, inviting and bathed in salty ocean spray. That’s Manly Pacific, an MGallery hotel overlooking its namesake beach, to a tee. You may remember it as the old Novotel Manly.

But where that previous iteration sat at the mid-level of the scale, the latest is all about elevated luxury. Think signature cocktails on arrival and a ‘Beach Butler’ on call, rooftop yoga on weekends and a bar perfectly-placed for people watching.

Enjoying the view at 55 North bar.
Enjoying the view at 55 North bar.

Arguably the biggest change though is to the interiors – its bistro, bar, rooms and suites – which now embrace a more coastal chic design, following a top to bottom refurb.

Location & Impressions

Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s most iconic stretches of sand, second only to Bondi. Despite its reputation, this is my first time visiting the coastal mecca – and it doesn’t take long to be reminded of my usual stomping ground in Byron Bay.

Boasting an enviable position along the foreshore at 55 North Steyne, the only things between Manly Pacific Hotel and rolling waves are a pedestrian crossing and narrow esplanade lined with towering Norfolk Island pines.

The vibe is decidedly more casual and eclectic than you might expect in Sydney, particularly compared to rivals downtown. Here, barefoot guests comfortably sit alongside suited business travellers, while the bar features a mix of ages and demographics.

The lobby has a living room-like feel.
The lobby has a living room-like feel.

Conveniently, it’s a 10 minute stroll from Manly ferry terminal, where a fast ferry can take you to the CBD in around 25 minutes. It’s also surrounded by restaurants and bars, should you want to branch out from the hotel’s options: Manly Bistro, Tokyo Joe, and 55 North bar.

Travellers arriving with a car can also take advantage of secure underground parking: $50 per night for self-parking or $65 for valet.

Room

Neutral colours and light oak set the tone in the hotel’s 213 rooms and suites. Among them are Standard, Deluxe and Superior, many of which boast ocean views. The Villas are the hotel’s pinnacle offering.

I’m checked into a Superior Ocean View Room on level six – a king sized bed flanked by stone bedside tables takes pride of place, alongside a comfortable reading chair and marble-top dining table for two.

The textured decor heightens the feeling of luxury.
The textured decor heightens the feeling of luxury.
A walk-in shower with Leif amenities.
A walk-in shower with Leif amenities.

There’s no artwork to speak of. Instead, the heavy lifting is left to the view, which reveals itself once you part the sheer and blackout curtains. It’s particularly impressive at sunrise.

Timber-look floors give the room a clean, coastal ambience.
Timber-look floors give the room a clean, coastal ambience.

Two balcony chairs offer a great perch to soak it in the vista.
Two balcony chairs offer a great perch to soak it in the vista.

Back inside, a timber-look bench seat lines the wall opposite the bed (while also connecting to the minibar and open wardrobe). This doubles as a seat at the dining table, for which a cushion is thankfully provided, and a handy area to spread your belongings.

The minibar contains an extensive collection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including some local pre-mix spirits and cocktails, Australian wines and beers.

The open wardrobe and minibar.
The open wardrobe and minibar.
Prices are rather high, even by typical five star standards.
Prices are rather high, even by typical five star standards.

A 55” television with casting functionality, pod coffee machine, kettle, full-size ironing board and iron, bedside alarm and Bluetooth speaker, and hairdryer round out the gadgetry.

It’s worth mentioning the hotel’s pet friendly too, meaning you can bring your faithful companion for a beachside break, complete with a private balcony and doggo-approved minibar menu.

Work

It’s fairly unlikely many will be visiting this hotel purely for work, but if they do, there are some excellent facilities including a variety of meeting rooms and function spaces.

In my room, the dining table does double duty as the de facto workspace.

A cushion is provided on the bench seat for a second diner.
A cushion is provided on the bench seat for a second diner.

It’s good for a short session, but not overly comfortable for an extended period. Other rooms are fitted with traditional desks, so if you’re planning to do some work, ask for one of these.

WiFi speeds hit a blistering 185 Mbps download, while upload is a modest 3 Mbps.

Eat

When not enjoying cocktails and bites at 55 North bar, French-infused Bistro Manly is your primary all-day go to for sustenance – with great views to the street and beach beyond.

55 North bar.
55 North bar.

In the mornings, it plates up a buffet breakfast featuring all the usual suspects (note, it can get very crowded), while lunch features the likes of Moreton Bay bug san choy bow, 4 Pines battered market fish with pomme frites, and Angus steak frites.

The entrance to Bistro Manly.
The entrance to Bistro Manly.

Many of the lunchtime dishes follow through to dinner, with the addition of French classics such as duck confit, complemented by a three-course tasting menu matched with some stellar wines.

The tasting menu features two options for each entree, main and dessert. I opt for the angel hair pasta in truffle butter cream and pecorino, beef tenderloin with sauteed forest mushrooms, and a banoffee tartlet to finish.

Artful presentation.
Artful presentation.

The pasta is deliciously rich (perhaps too rich for some palates) and the beef beautifully cooked, though the mushrooms are a little too salty for my liking. Dessert is my dish of the night – a knockout.

Japanese venue Tokyo Joe is connected to the hotel, giving you a welcome alternative to French if staying multiple nights. Try the gyoza.

Relax

Between the rooftop swimming pool lined with striped sun lounges and cabanas – where you can order eats and drinks via a QR code and have it ferried up to you – and infrared sauna, which is available on a complimentary basis, there’s no shortage of places to relax.

Manly Pacific Hotel's rooftop pool.
Manly Pacific Hotel's rooftop pool.

That said, with the beach and a foreshore pathway frequented by joggers, dog walkers and strolling visitors, directly in front of the hotel, chances are your attention will be elsewhere.

Sunrise through the Norfolk Island pines.
Sunrise through the Norfolk Island pines.

Peloton equipment can also be delivered to your room by calling the Beach Club (think of this as an activity concierge), if you’re feeling particularly energetic.

Verdict

A stellar hotel that’s changed my perception of Sydney – it’s not just the concrete jungle I so often gravitate towards, and I can see why Manly is firmly on the east coast tourist trail.

Room decor is at the simpler end of the city’s luxury hotel scene, but it’s quite fitting for the beachside location. Less is indeed more, in this instance. The ambience throughout is also one of holiday bliss, and I’m looking forward to a repeat visit.

The writer stayed as a guest of Manly Pacific Hotel.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 965

Chris it's a hard life special when this hotel is close to my HQ, even the wife decides to come to our meetings.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 169

As I'm a local, a few tips. 

There are a billion places to eat in Manly, so no need to eat at 'The Pacific' (as it's known).

Breakfast - Three Beans top of the Corso opposite St. Matts Church or Noon.

Dinner - Belgrave Cartel, Busta, Sunset Sabi or Chica Bonita.

Clubs & Pubs - Of course you have the Steyne & Ivanhoe. But, try the Manly Club on Gilbert Park, it's great value and much quieter. Of course, Manly Skiff is a local fav.

Early Swim? Head down to Manly Surf Club 'Early' You will find 'The Drinks Express' swim at 6:30am and the 'Bold & Beautiful at 7am. Great coffee from 6am, too. 

Cheers!


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