During a busy three-day two-night trip to Sydney, I needed a "just for sleeping" hotel somewhere central and with decent transport links to the airport/CBD.
The Mercure Sydney Potts Point -- converted from the old Crest earlier this year -- fitted the bill, sitting as it does on top of the Kings Cross train station.
I wasn't expecting luxury at this hotel, which sits between three and four stars (closer to three), but I was pleasantly surprised by the range of services on offer.
Location & Impressions
The Mercure is the whole block between Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street on the north side of the Kings Cross junction.
If you're not familiar with the area's reputation, its less salubrious history precedes it, but the area as a whole is gradually becoming gentrified and I felt perfectly safe around the hotel, even at night.
If you're arriving by train and have luggage, you'll pop up out of the lift across Victoria Street, but if you're happy to walk up a couple of flights of stairs you'll emerge from the exit that's right underneath the hotel. (The Eastern Suburbs line will take you straight to Sydney Central and it's a swift change to the airport.)
The hotel entrance is on Victoria Street, and at ground floor level it's just a bank of lifts and a sofa, in a modern, stylish but dim aesthetic.
In the main lobby upstairs, the pleasant and efficient staff checked me in swiftly and I was soon heading up to my room on the top floor.
The hallways were a little monochromatically boring, but the walk to my room was short.
The Mercure is on the three star hotel scale, so my room size expectations were pretty low, and the hotel met them.
My room was small, with a double bed and no desk, though a small built-in shelf with the TV on top was masquerading as one in front of an upholstered bucket chair.
Top marks for luggage rack, though: there's a well-sized one at the foot of the bed. A small bedside table sat either side of the bed.
A fridge, safe, and kettle with hot drinks rounded out the room furniture.
The bathroom was actually reasonably sized and had a walk-in shower rather than a shower-over-bath setup. Apart from the rather basic-looking loo (would something to disguise the pipes really have broken the bank?), that is.
There wasn't much noise on the top floor, but lower floors -- especially facing busy Darlinghurst Road -- could well be noisy.
If you get a room looking towards the city, the view -- right over Sydney's CBD, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge -- can't be beat.
I'll say now that this isn't a room to spend much time in if you're working. Without a desk, you'll be sitting on the bed with your laptop.
Lack of power points in the room was a bit of a pain. The most accessible one was behind the bedside table with the phone on it, and I had to unplug the clock radio to get to it.
The wifi is the awful Reivernet system (I've previously explained why it's such a rort), where you pay just under $30 for only 100MB full speed before being throttled or paying by the megabyte for full speed access, which is a ridiculous idea and ends up costing around $100 for a gigabyte of data.
And it's really, really slow too, with down speeds of under 1Mbps and upload speeds so slow that our usual speedtest.net tests wouldn't work. I called up the tech support line to see what was going on, and they told me that the entire hotel has just an 8Mbps ADSL line coming into it. For a newly renovated hotel with 227 rooms, that's shockingly poor.
There's a restaurant on the main lobby level of the hotel, but it's windowless and a little dreary. The food's okay, though, as is the room service, but you can do so much better with Kings Cross right outside.
Since the hotel has a large Asian clientele, breakfast is an interesting mélange of congee, miso soup, sausages and cereal. It's pretty good, though, apart from the coffee.
Since the room's so small (and the bucket chair isn't that comfy), you're best placed to leave the hotel to chill out. Kings Cross is on your doorstep, of course, which is a big plus.
Another plus is the gym: while the hotel doesn't have an onsite fitness centre, you get a voucher to take over to the large Fitness First gym across the road, which is really well equipped. If you're keen to keep up your gym routine on the road, this is one of the best hotels in Sydney for it.
I wasn't expecting much from the Mercure, but it really shone through in services (especially the gym across the road) and location.
I'd certainly stay there again if all I needed in Sydney was a bed and a gym, but I'd look elsewhere if I needed to work in the room or wasn't travelling with my own data connection.