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The Observatory Hotel - Sydney, Australia
Monday, January 31, 2011  

If you plan to cruise into or out of Sydney, plan an extra 5 to 7 days to take in all of the sights in and around Sydney. This is one city that you simply have to experience. We booked 4 nights at The Observatory Hotel in Sydney and we could have easily stayed another 2 or 3 nights. We fell in love with Sydney after the first day and even more in love with The Observatory Hotel.

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We arrived at the hotel, located at 89-113 Kent Street in the historic Rocks District, about 8:30am, so our room was not quite ready. No problem. Michael D. Anderson, the hotel’s Chief Concierge and a member of Les Clefs d'Or, the prestigious professional society of concierges, offered to store our luggage and even invited us to relax and unwind from our flight in the hotel’s Spa, one of Sydney's most renowned sanctuaries. There we were given towels, robes and slippers, after which it did not take long for me to take advantage of the spa’s wonderful steam room, sauna and shower facilities. Afterwards, we were lulled to sleep by the sound of gently cascading water while reclining in the comfortable lounge chairs around the spectacular subterranean 20-meter indoor heated swimming pool. The domed ceiling above the pool featured twinkling fibre-optic lights designed to recreate the brilliant Southern Hemisphere sky. Beautiful and serene murals depicting the Sydney beach scene graced the walls of the pool area. After the spa, we had just enough time for a short walk through the Rocks District where we found a quaint Italian sidewalk café to have an incredible lunch. When we returned to the hotel, our Executive Suite was ready and our luggage had already been delivered to the room!

The Observatory Hotel is operated by Orient-Express Hotels, a chain with an amazing reputation for service and quality. This was our first experience in an Orient-Express property and I can tell you that it won’t be our last. Very few hotels do everything right. The Observatory Hotel is one of them. It's no wonder that this property consistently makes several "world's best hotels" lists.

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The spacious and elegant living room in our Executive Suite.
This hotel has 100 stylish, individually decorated guest rooms including twelve Executive Suites each named after a carriage on the famous Venice Simplon Orient-Express Train. All rooms feature windows that open, high speed broadband access and large marble bathrooms. Some have private balconies. Four ground-floor rooms have been adapted for the convenience of disabled guests and the second floor, which is completely non-smoking, features duvets in each bedroom.

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The bedroom of our suite was no less elegant.
The amenities, furnishings and décor of our corner Executive Suite, the Carina, were exquisite. The two-room suite featured an entry foyer with a stocked wet bar, a separate spacious living room and bedroom, a huge marble bathroom with separate tub and shower, two color televisions, each equipped with a DVD and VCR player. The hotel offers complimentary DVDs available from the reception desk. A complimentary newspaper is delivered each morning and bottled water, presented in a beautiful blue fabric bag, is left on your bedside table each evening as part of the turn-down service. They even provided a large tote bag for carrying your treasures back to the hotel.

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In the hotel, a leisurely lunch or afternoon tea could be enjoyed in the intimate clublike surrounds of the Globe Bar & Bistro, complete with cedar-paneled library of antique books. Opulently decorated with Fortuny fabrics and original art, Galileo Restaurant offers a fusion of French and Japanese cuisine from sought after Chef Harunobu Inukai. For breakfast served in Galileo, you could order from the menu, make selections from a beautiful fruit and pastry buffet or combine the two options. Room service was also available 24 hours a day.

The Observatory Hotel is only a short stroll from all the city's attractions, including the Harbour Bridge, King Street Wharf, Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House. The hotel also had its own tennis courts across the street with all-weather surface courts and flood lights for night play. Tennis racquets and accessories were available to rent. A complimentary luxury vehicle drop-off service is available to all in-house guests between the hours of 7:00 am and 10:00 am, Monday to Friday, from The Observatory Hotel to anywhere within the central business district.

Michael D. Anderson, The Observatory Hotel’s Chief Concierge, was extremely helpful during our stay by offering many suggestions for sightseeing and dining. We also made use of the wonderful Sydney Visitors' Center where we obtained good information about things to see and do, purchased tour tickets and also accessed the Internet at a cost of $2 AUS for 15 minutes.
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