The Four Seasons hotel brand is known for its upmarket elegance, and its Sydney property -- perched in a skyscraper above Circular Quay with views over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge -- is no exception.
I spent two nights at the Four Seasons on a trip to Sydney and found it difficult to decide whether to be most impressed by the incredible views, the excellent personalised service, the top-notch business facilities or the clever, thoughtful room design.
Location & Impressions
At 199 George Street, the Four Seasons is perfect for the northern end of the CBD and to position yourself for corporate evening entertaining at the Opera House or the many options around Circular Quay.
First impressions were absolutely five-star: the door staff had my taxi door open and my suitcase out of the back before I could blink, and it actually made it up to my room before me.
The lobby itself is a well-designed effort to make the best of a rather structural building, with a four-storey ceiling, gorgeous chandeliers and lots of polished stone. Check-in was swift and pleasant, and I was soon in my room.
I stayed in one of the Four Seasons' corner rooms overlooking the Opera House, Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge.
Corporate travellers staying at the hotel frequently are often upgraded to these rooms, the staff told me, but the views are only slightly less panoramic from the rooms on the other two sides of the hotel facing towards the harbour.
Other rooms have a view into Darling Harbour beyond the Harbour Bridge, and backwards into the CBD.
Entering the room, there's a small entrance hallway perfect for stowing your luggage) that leads to either the bathroom or the bedroom.
The bedroom was expectedly comfortable, with a pillow-topped bed, sensible and practical work desk with executive chair, an armchair, long bank settee at the end of the bed and a marvellous chaise longue in front of the panoramic corner picture window overlooking the Harbour.
The design is cleverly put together in the room, with standing lamps, coffee and side tables, and a good selection of soft furnishings.
The high bed was incredibly comfortable -- second only to the Sofitel in Sydney -- with high thread count linens and a comfortable mix of firm and soft pillows.
A large wardrobe held two luggage racks, a safe, ample drawers and lots of hanging room.
The bathroom is also impressive with polished stone, separate bath and shower stall, a separate loo and L'Occitane toiletries. Extra marks for the thick, fluffy bathmat in front of the sink and a lighted shaving/makeup mirror.
The desk itself is relatively compact, with a glass top over dark grained wood. There's a sizeable sideboard to spread papers out, and an excellent set of international plug options that included the UK, US, European and the usual Australia/NZ/China plugs.
A stylish yet practical angle lamp provides task lighting, and seating is your choice of a leather executive chair or one of those hybrid dinner/armchair-type chairs that hotels are very fond of using.
The desk was perfectly comfortable for a full day's work, and the wireless Internet was lightning fast -- although expensive.
Another option for meetings is the executive lounge on the 32nd floor, which has ample seating for informal business meetings and a boardroom that comfortably seats ten. It's a pleasant place to work, too, with views over Darling Harbour and the CBD.
I had breakfast in the executive lounge both days of my stay, which had an excellent spread of hot and cold breakfast options, including an egg chef who made one of the best omelettes I've had in quite some time.
Executive lounge breakfasts can often be a little lacking compared with the main restaurant's offerings, but the Four Seasons' was exemplary.
Business travellers often give hotel restaurants a miss, but the Four Seasons' Kable's restaurant is a destination on its own. Chef Jeffrey de Rome offers a tasting-style menu, which can best be described as a menu of starter-sized plates from which you pick around four or five options, depending on how hungry you are.
Dinner at Kable's was absolutely outstanding. I chose a steak tartare that was perfection, foie gras with a delicious pastry, a lamb chop that also came with a parcel of delicious pulled lamb, and a piece of excellent French cheese.
The wine list only enhances the meal -- the Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir was excellent, and the port choices with the cheese just perfect. I'd return to Kable's for dinner even if I weren't staying at the hotel.
If you're after a light dinner, you could do worse than the cocktails and canapés evenings in the executive lounge. There's a plentiful and substantial offering, with two hot and two cold options, cheese, bread and crackers, and a good offering of fruit.
The extensive range of drinks -- a good half dozen each of red and white, with a cupboard full of premium spirits and mixers -- is a bonus for the evening.
The room itself is perfect for relaxing, with a Bose music system (that also has an input jack for your iPhone or iPod, though not a dock function), an enormous TV and a view that beats them all hands down.
The large bath was good to soak out the kinks of travel, and the excellent shower washed them away too.
There's a swimming pool downstairs and a gym, and the lobby bar and café looked lovely, but if you're in one of these rooms, there's nothing better than sitting in the chaise longue at the window and gazing out on the iconic view.
It's easy to see why 65 percent of the Four Seasons Sydney's Australian market comes from the corporate sector, because it's a deeply pleasant place to stay on business, where everything just works without hassle.
The well-designed rooms and excellent business facilities speak for themselves, but the top-notch staff -- who remembered guests' names and details -- really made the hotel stand out.
The staff in the executive lounge in particular couldn't have been more helpful, and had excellent suggestions and insider local knowledge for getting things done in Sydney.
All in all, a top-notch stay.