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MGallery Harbour Rocks Hotel, Sydney review: Weekend away

TIME : 2-26 17:44:43

MGallery Harbour Rocks Hotel, Sydney review: Weekend away

DEFAULT Craig Platt

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Our rating

4 out of 5

The place

MGallery Harbour Rocks Hotel, Sydney

The location

As the name suggests, the hotel is located right in the heart of Sydney's historic Rocks district, just a block back from Circular Quay and its iconic views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

The space

The 128-year-old Heritage-listed building is a converted warehouse, located on the site of Sydney's first hospital (reflected in the name of the lane behind the hotel: Nurses Walk). It has had various incarnations over the years, including becoming a home to an artists' collective in the '70s before becoming a hotel in 1989. The sandstone building was refurbished in 2012 to restore much of the original historic feel, creating a contrast with the modern furnishings and facilities of the 59 rooms. There's a cosy bar that doubles as the hotel reception, where guests are offered a complimentary welcome drink.

The room

My studio suite doesn't offer much in the way of views - it's mainly the rooftops of surrounding buildings - but you can get a glimpse of the tops of the sails of the Opera House. The high ceilings, exposed beams and brickwork offer a sense of the history of the building.

Despite this room's door sitting directly above the atrium of the bar lounge and reception area, the door is sufficiently soundproofed that, once it is closed, chatty guests downstairs cannot be heard. The usual facilities one would expect from a hotel at this level are here, with a flatscreen TV, iPod dock and stylish furnishings (though unfortunately there is a charge for  Wi-Fi access).

My studio suite is spacious, with a large couch and coffee table, work desk, large wardrobe and a king-size bed. The bathroom, however, is a fairly standard shower-over-bathtub deal and shows a little sign of wear.

The food

Scarlett's is the in-house restaurant, located deep in the bowels of the building in a small, intimate space that limits the number of diners to 40. Its breakfast options are decent, if not particularly exciting, but dinner is another matter entirely. We dine on pan-fried octopus with chorizo and salad, prosciutto-wrapped scallops and follow with mains of confit pork belly with gnocchi and cuts of ham hock thrown in for good measure, as well as an outstanding barramundi fillet with more scallops on the side. It's all very rich and just gets richer with a chocolate mousse accompanied by salted caramel and honeycomb for dessert.

Worth stepping out for

Aside from the magnificent views of Circular Quay just a block from the hotel, the location also offers great entertainment options. It's just a short walk to the Sydney Theatre Company's main venues, the Wharf Theatres and  Roslyn Packer Theatre, where you can see the likes of Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush performing (see www.sydneytheatre.com.au for what's on). To learn more about the historic Rocks, there are several walking tours, including a night-time "ghost tour", which depart virtually from the hotel's doorstep (see http://www.rockswalkingtours.com.au and http://www.ghosttours.com.au).

The verdict

The location, and the building's fascinating history, make the Harbour Rocks Hotel an excellent option for visitors to Sydney looking to embrace some of the best the city has to offer.

Highlight

The food at Scarlett's is hard to go past.

Lowlight

Wi-Fi charges are so last-decade.

Essentials

Rooms at the Harbour Rocks Hotel start from $275 per night. See www.harbourrocks.com.au