On Phillip Street in the heart of the CBD, the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth is a classic hotel that's been thoughtfully renovated by the Sofitel group.
I stayed for a single night in late May, and was remarkably impressed by the bed -- which was probably the best I've ever slept in -- the excellent staff and the superb business resources of the Club Sofitel business lounge.
Location & Impressions
Arriving at the Sofitel Wentworth in the heart of the CBD is a remarkably relaxing experience.
The doorman had the taxi door open just as the taxi stopped, and I stepped into the lobby and was immediately struck by the gorgeous scent that the hotel uses in the public areas. It's a deeply classy, very moreish almost cologne-y scent that sets the scene for a luxurious stay.
Since my room included Club Sofitel access, I headed straight up to the 5th floor to the Club and bypassed the main reception area. Which was a bit of a pity, because it's luxuriously appointed and remarkably relaxing.
"Bonjour!" is the greeting that Sofitel trains its staff to use, and a little bit of French gives the hotel group a certain upmarket cachet. Only a few of the staff actually speak French, though.
Check-in was very pleasant, and I headed swiftly up to my room.
The first impression of the Superior Room is that there's something missing, and I think that's because the tiny television is sitting on top of an oddly-shaped end-table instead of on a credenza or proper drawer unit. I really feel like there should have been an extra piece of furniture there to stop it looking bare.
However, every piece of furniture in the room lent a classy air, from the large desk to the incredibly sumptuous bed. I'm not exaggerating when I say this was the best bed I've ever slept in, and I think it's all down to the luxurious three inch thick feather mattress pad that's used.
By the bed was a side-table containing three interesting magazines, an improvement on most hotels' offerings.
In a cleverly-designed cupboard at the corner of the wardrobe wall sits the minibar, glassware and tea/coffee service -- though, shockingly, there was no actual coffee on offer, only instant.
A nice touch was the tube of Berocca for sale in the mini-bar.
In the cupboard was the usual hanging areas, and also a fullsize ironing board and iron, plus some of the softest hotel dressing gowns I've ever felt.
The bathroom is small but cleverly designed and in an unusual shape, making it feel much more spacious than its compact size would suggest. The shower was fantastic, but the bath too small to be much use. The hotel could well do with replacing the bath with a swanky walk-in shower unit instead.
The desk itself is a good size, sitting in front of a floor-to-ceiling window and with a comfortable casual chair.
It's not really suitable for a full day's work, but it'll do for a few hours in the morning or evening, at which point you can always decamp to the business area within the Club Sofitel.
Internet at the hotel is shockingly expensive, though: $27.50 for 24 hours, but that only gives you 100MB at full speed -- at which point you have a choice of paying 10c per MB or having the speed throttled -- and a total of 1GB before your session auto-cancels.
That's a pretty unacceptable cap when just loading the homepage of the Sydney Morning Herald will set you back the best part of 2MB. Just downloading a long movie from iTunes could hit the 1GB cap. On the plus side, it's a good speed for downloads, at around 8 Mbps, with uploads an impressive 6 Mbps.
However, the Internet is free in the Club Sofitel, which also has a business area and comfortable places to sit with a laptop. (My favourite spot was in the dark corner by the window just beyond the bar.)
Dinner at Garden Court was one of the best hotel restaurant experiences I've had in a long time.
For a start, the wine list was superlative. Sofitel is part of the French Accor hotel group, so the food and wine selections are always a cut above the rest, but this list was really superb.
The scallop starter was thoroughly delicious: perfectly cooked with ideally-sized scallops, and a handsome helping of four rather than the usual two or three you usually see for a starter.
My main course wagyu rib steak was absolutely stunning, perfectly cooked to medium to allow the flavours of the wagyu marbling to melt through, with exactly the right amount of glazing and an incredible amount of flavour.
Coming highly recommended by the waitress, the wild strawberry soufflé with crème anglaise was seriously incredible too.
But the knowledgeable, helpful and almost preternaturally aware waitstaff really made the meal, always ready with a top-up of wine and water, and leaving just the right amount of time between finishing a course and clearing.
Garden Court would be a great choice to bring business contacts for a low-key dinner with fabulous food.
If you've had a big lunch, though, the Club Sofitel has a wide range of wines, interesting canapés and assorted nibbles that you could well use to make up a light supper. And afternoon tea, with several different types of muffin, macarons, sandwiches, wraps and baguettes could equally make a light lunch.
With relatively small rooms that don't have a comfortable armchair or sofa, I spent most of my downtime in the Club Sofitel, which is well-provisioned with comfortable places to lounge.
A High Tea is served in the afternoon, and at all times of the day it's a comfortable, classy place to spend some time.
The hotel does also have a gym, spa, and hair salon, but with only a single night's stay I didn't have time in my schedule to take a look.
The Sofitel is a superb choice towards the higher end of the business class market. It's got all the facilities for a productive business class stay, but the ridiculous Internet pricing doesn't match the otherwise excellent hotel.