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After a false start in the Sydney Hilton hamster cage category, we upgraded ourselves to a Relaxation Suite. This was a GOOD MOVE! Thanks to Callan at the front desk for making the whole thing go smoothly and for cutting us a sweet deal.

Apparently there are 16 of these rooms on the property. If NPS is stuck in a big corporate hotel, this is the kind of room we want. 2925 is big enough to stretch out in. Comes with exec level perqs (free breakfast, cocktail hour, concierge service, etc). A completely different universe from “free conference room” category. Yes please.

2925 suite

Hey look, room to breathe!

The furnishings are sturdy and nice, and the shades are all automated. Lots of room to work and play.

The sitting room with a nice desk

Powder room

The bathroom is huge with a gigantic tub (probably never to be used) and a very nice shower that has so many control options we’ve only figured out half of them over the last two days.

Four of the five shower nozzles. The drench head (not shown) is superb.

This huge tub comes with a city view

Visit the botanical gardens!

Spanish helmets

After a nice long walk through the city on our first day, we had a quick pizza at Macchiato. The pizza is better than the service (friendly though inept), and we won’t even mention the bartending. There has to be better pizza in Sydney.

Watson Bay ferry dock

Day two was spent ferrying over to Watson Bay, walking the bridge, wandering the Rocks, and buying way too much product at Aesop.

You can’t leave Watson Bay without consuming mandatory fish and chips

The gap

The Aesops store is in here somewhere

Dinner at Tetsuyas was world class. Very expensive but very very good indeed. Bite the bullet and overpay for dinner.

A negroni with homemade sweet vermouth (cherry). Delicious.

Day three is a rainy disaster, good for getting up late, processing some bits, a nice Thai lunch in the very weird Holy Basil, and some coffee at Doppio.

Before dinner, we stopped in at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. A very powerful video piece on the Palm Island uprising was the highlight for sure.

MCAA

MCAA

MCAA

MCAA

Dinner at Aria was solid. Excellent views at a great table, delicious food, and very good service.

Aria Sydney view

We also went to see a (bad) play at the Sydney opera house. Yeah, probably not the best theater location in the city, but it was the only thing on. The actors were great, the set was creative and high tech, and the writing may once have been good too, but it has aged poorly. What is billed as an “iconic masterpiece by Nobel Laureate Patrick White,” A Cheery Soul is more like a cartoon from long ago. It was fun to do, though.

The next day we did a say trip to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Highly recommended even though the train ride is long. (See a blog entry here.)

Then it was a mad dash through the city in order to shower before dinner in the best restaurant in Australia. That would be quay. Though we were grateful to sneak in with a last minute reservation, we were not satisfied with a table in the “annex” (which seems to be a thing in Sydney). Dinner was remarkably great, but childre’s table treatment is just wrong when you are paying so much money.

View from the children’s table at Quay

We opted for the “drinks” pairing which was really excellent. Not just wine, but beer, sake, fortified spirits, cocktails. A great idea done in an outstanding fashion.

Negroni with QQQQ Pillars gin (a hack from four pillars for Quay)

Here are some pictures from the dinner. World class. Outstanding and well worth a visit.

Quay

There was not much time to explore the cocktail scene in Sydney what with all of the fancy Negronis we had in some of the best restaurants on earth. We did at least pop over to the Lobo Plantation for some nice tiki-style cocktailing after a group dinner. Lobo Plantation was hopping and much fun.

Lobo Plantation is a great bar

Fernet and coconut cream based cocktail (with a side of fernet of course)

CR#2

Did these stairs get curvier?

We’ll have to leave these other bars unexplored for now (including the (gasp!) marble bar at the Hilton which we never made it downstairs for): Bulletin Place, Old Mates Place, Shady Pines, and Hubert.

Here is a view of the sunset from the really cool “window in the mirror” from the suite.

Sunset at the Sydney Hilton

Five showerheads for the Sydney Hilton Relaxation Suite product. Recommended.

I was just here at the Zetter in November and was completely psyched to find a hotel that did not suck in London. The Zetter and the Zetter Townhouse way do not suck.

Somewhat miraculously, United did the right thing by me on this trip to Europe with in advance upgrades on both ends. (Isn’t it ironic that merely acceptable behavior by United is so rare that it deserved kudos?!) So maybe I was in a great mood even on 3 hours of “plane sleep.” No matter what it was, though, the Zetter staff made me feel immediately welcome on my arrival.

The Zetter as seen from Workshop Coffee.

The Zetter as seen from Workshop Coffee.

The front desk staff kindly allowed me to use room 101 to take a shower in the morning since someone was still in the room I was ultimately destined to stay in. Room 101 is great for a shower.

Room 101 TV.

Room 101 TV.

Room 101 shower (ahhhh).

Room 101 shower (ahhhh).

Room 101 is about the same size as its bed.

Room 101 is about the same size as its bed.

But even after breakfast and a shower, I still had some time to kill before my room was ready, so I headed over to the Zetter Townhouse to get some work done. I was met by head barman and gracious host Kamil Foltan. He and I sat in the back getting work done and chatting every once in a while for a couple of hours. Finally, room 503 was ready. It was worth the wait.

Eyes to the right.

Room 503.  Curved windows overlooking the city.

Room 503. Curved windows overlooking the city.

Eyes to the left.

The work nook.  Sadly, lots of actual work is happening here.

The work nook. Sadly, lots of actual work is happening here.

I must admit that the bathroom on 503 could use an update. The shower is pretty good, but it does have a shower curtain. You all know how we feel about that around here!

Smallish bathroom through the door.

Smallish bathroom through the door.

We will pretend this curtain is glass.

We will pretend this curtain is glass.

I guess over on this side of the pond they have not yet started to install insanely large tubs that I never have time to use next to a glass shower cube. Alas.

The view and the gorgeous balcony more than makes up for the bathroom.

View from 503 balcony.

View from 503 balcony.

The new London pyramid and a cathedral share the skyline with a smoking chimney on an ugly building.  Classic London.

The new London pyramid and a cathedral share the skyline. Classic London.

Too bad about the weather though. Rainy and gray. Oh well, that was to be expected. All in all a five showerheads rating for the Zetter again. Great space, great staff, excellent all around.

London from the Tate Modern restaurant.  Rain rain rain.

London from the Tate Modern restaurant. Rain rain rain.

Coffee Workshop wallpaper.  ARRRR!

Coffee Workshop wallpaper. ARRRR!

In other London news, the Clerkenwell neighborhood remains interesting. The best coffee I have ever had in London can be found at Workshop Coffee just down the street from the Zetter. Mixology at the Zetter Townhouse is still in full swing (I must admit that I go for more boozy and bitter than they seem to have taste for on their menu, but you can get a Liberal!!). The Tate Modern is one of my favorite all time museums (loved the Sphinx by Fini).

Petit Sphinx Ermite by Leonor Fini (Tate Modern)

Petit Sphinx Ermite by Leonor Fini (Tate Modern)

Inside the Zetter Townhouse.  View from the couch (which was almost denied us by the little girl minding the door).

Inside the Zetter Townhouse. View from the couch (which was almost denied us by the little girl minding the door).

Superb dinner at Moro.

Kamil introduced me to a new rum at the Zetter Townhouse. Almost as good as Havana Club Cuban cask strength Anejo. Wow. And get this, it’s from Venezuela.

Santa Teresa 1796 rum from Venezuela.

Santa Teresa 1796 rum from Venezuela.

A dinner right next door at The Modern Pantry included one of the best desserts I have ever been served in an upscale restaurant. We had some trouble with the Zetter front desk getting dinner set up, but persistence paid off.

Another restaurant worth mentioning is The Tramshed where you can find great steak, a cow in formaldehyde (Damien Hirst), and lesbian petting in the gents.

This is not the cow you're looking for.

This is not the cow you’re looking for.

After dinner we went for a romp through Happiness Forgets (which was obviously teleported in from NY) and the Artesian at the Langham which is just a bit too posh for its own good, for example proudly proclaiming itself the “best bar in the world.” Happiness Forgets is excellent indeed. Artesian? Meh. Though the rum selection really is the best I have ever seen.

We handle posh by ordering this:

A posh drink with a purple skull phone from Artesian.

A posh drink with a purple skull phone from Artesian.