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Hilton Sydney review: Weekend away

TIME : 2-26 17:45:20

Hilton Sydney review: Weekend away

DEFAULT Sarah Maguire

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Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE PLACE

Hilton Sydney.

THE LOCATION

In a city obsessed with real estate, the Hilton stands on a large chunk of some of the best of it: it is in the heart of the Sydney CBD, stretching a block between George and Pitt streets, with entrances into its spectacular, 20-metre-high lobby from both these landmark Sydney streets. Look out from George Street and the glorious Queen Victoria Building is directly across the road; wander out on the other side and Pitt Street Mall is half a block away.

THE SPACE

It is 10 years this year since the Hilton reopened after a 2½-year, $200 million renovation which transformed a 1970s-era hotel into a thoroughly modern, light-flooded space with 577 guest rooms and suites and enough conference space for 3000 people. At the time it was Hilton Worldwide's most expensive investment ever and a decade on, quite amazingly, it still feels new, testament to the skill of the architects and interior designers and the craftspeople they employed.

THE ROOM

While our one-bedroom relaxation suite remains in its 2005 incarnation – apart from new smart televisions – nothing about it strikes as dated. It's stylish and downright decadent, from its Peter Thomas Roth toiletries to the pillow menu, the rain shower and massive spa bath with city views.  When you've stayed in hotels that claim five stars but are either too tired or too plain to deserve them, the Hilton stands out for getting it so right 10 years ago. Turns out that part of the reason the lovely rooms endure is the Hilton's "Perfect Room" program in which each room undergoes an annual assessment and must comply with a checklist. The return for the hotel: their rooms feel bone fide five star.

THE FOOD

Lashing out on a relaxation suite gives you access to the executive lounge and evening canapés; during our stay sweet little lamb pies were the standout, while in the morning the less-is-more breakfast spread included lamb chipolatas, eggs, pastries and cereals, and fruit. But the culinary star is Luke Mangan's Glass, the French brasserie-style restaurant so named for its 13-metre ceiling-to-floor glass windows; the air-dried kangaroo and blue cheese inside pear paper rolls were a superb amuse-bouche, while my braised beef cheeks with prawns in brik pastry and hazelnut granola were as melt in the mouth as you'd expect at a one-hat establishment. Glass also participates in the hotel's seasonal produce calendar, in which an ingredient is featured monthly on Hilton menus: in November it's tiger prawns, December wagyu beef ... fast-forward to April and it's chocolate.

STEPPING OUT

Sydney is at your doorstep: the Opera House, Rocks and Botanic Gardens precinct are a 30-minute stroll away, although there is plenty of CBD shopping to be distracted by on the way; in the opposite direction lies Chinatown, while the State Theatre is just around the corner.

THE VERDICT

If you're talking a one-night getaway, the Hilton is a destination in itself with its top-notch Marble and Zeta bars and Glass restaurant; there is also a day spa and a 25-metre pool. A big city needs its truly five-star hotels, and the Hilton deserves its place among them.

ESSENTIALS

Hilton Sydney, 488 George St, Sydney. Relaxation suites start from $609 and guest rooms from $219. Phone (02) 9266 2000, see hiltonsydney.com.au/ 

LOWLIGHT

The valet service kept us waiting for our car in the morning, appearing to have misplaced it.

HIGHLIGHT

Kicking back in the relaxation suite, or with a cocktail in one of Zeta bar's Moroccan-style curtained booths.