A Sydney break doesn’t need to equal a CBD stay. lastminute lovely Nicole reveals why you should consider inner-city Darlinghurst for your next trip.
Chances are when you think of city break in Sydney, you’re picturing a CBD escape, walking distance from the landmarks of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge or among the attractions of Darling Harbour.
Here’s an alternative though: just one train stop away from Martin Place station is a hot spot, a little removed from the tourist factor of the CBD but with plenty to offer. Yep, Darlinghurst, my friends, is where it’s at. Here’s my guide to a quick escape to Sydney’s SoHo:
1. Where to stay
I love the big hotel chains as much as the next girl but the personal touch of a boutique hotel adds a different flavour to a city stay.
And the Kirketon Hotel, part of the 8Hotels Collection (read Erin’s review of their Diamant hotel in Brisbane) is the perfect example.
Just a five minute stroll away from Kings Cross Station (don’t let the proximity to the Golden Mile put you off), the hotel is nestled among the hype of vibrant Darlinghurst but still manages to capture the intimacy of a boutique establishment.
First impressions count and the genuinely warm and friendly staff kick off our stay on the right note.
There’s no lifts or expansive lobbies but the vibe is stylish and sexy with an old school charm to it that makes you feel, that by choosing to stay there, you’re in the know.
We’re lucky enough to be staying in a superior room on the third floor. The decor is understated yet sophisticated. The ridiculously comfortable king bed, rain shower, iPod docking station, T2 teas and complimentary Fitness First access are all welcome additions. I was concerned the location on busy Darlinghurst Road location would make sleep impossible but it didn’t bother us at all (the *ahem* cocktail or three we had downstairs could have had something to do with that though).
2. Where to drink
Darlinghurst isn’t short of bars and pubs but you’d be forgiven for not venturing to any of them once you discover Eau De Vie, the award winning cocktail bar, located at the back of the hotel.
The Eau De Vie crew are extremely helpful and after filling them in on our cocktail preferences, they make their recommendations. I’m sucker for anything with ginger beer and as soon as I hear it’s house-made, I’m sold. But you really can’t go wrong with anything you select. A new menu has launched since our visit – a good excuse for a return visit 😉
We chat with Bar Manager Charlie Ainsbury (Australia’s Best Bartender – 2007) who gave us a few inside tips on the art of cocktail making.
We ask him how to make the perfect cocktail at home and he makes the point that at the bar they really do use every bottle in the expansive collection – it’s not just for show – so you can’t really expect the same result at home without a lot of expense.
|Top tip from Charlie: For any budding cocktail makers wanting to impress at their next party, don’t try and make cocktails to order when you’re playing host – it’s way too time intensive and as the night goes on, the quality is sure to go downhill! His (genius) alternative: make a perfect punch instead – just as delicious for far less effort.|
Other bars to add to your list in the area:
– Love Tilly Devine
– The Passage
– Hinky Dinks
– Pocket Bar
– Darlo Bar
3. Where to eat
While ordering dumplings from Fu Manchu, the Asian restaurant next door that conveniently looks after the hotel’s room service is tempting, there’s almost too much choice when it comes to food in Darlinghurst. Here are some of my picks:
• Phamish – OMG, the salt and pepper calamari here is all kinds of amazing! Not far behind in the mouth-watering stakes is the duck pancake and dumplings. You can just tell it’s one of those places the local’s eat, always a good sign.
|Hot tip: Get there early (with your BYO) to nab a table or if you arrive later, be prepared to put your name down and have a drink at the pub around the corner (also not a bad option). It’s not the sort of place you linger over your meal: you order at the counter, eat up a storm and go but the quality of the food makes it all worthwhile.|
• Gelato Messina – A trip to Darlinghurst wouldn’t be complete without a sweet treat from Gelato Messina. Look for the crowds, join the queue and get to work on narrowing down your selection from the regular and specials menu. It’s a tough call but I can’t go past the combination of ‘Salted caramel and white chocolate’ (their bestseller) and ‘Bounty’ (waaay better than the chocolate, trust me).
• Third Village – The day before our stay at the Kirketon, a review from Concrete Playground popped up in my inbox and I knew straight away that would be where we’d venture for breakfast. A short stroll to Stanley Street and we enter the doors of Third Village. We’re greeted with friendly staff, a colourful, relaxed fit-out and organic menu (ideal after a *ahem* few too many cocktails the night before) and I know we’re onto a winner.
A ‘Big Breakfast’ with a fresh juice and ‘Eggs Mediterranean’ with a green tea are delivered promptly and hit the spot perfectly.
The lunch menu sounds equally fabulous and I’ll be hitting it up next time I’m in this part of town.
• Flour and Stone – Last but not least is my current sweet-tooth obsession: Flour and Stone. Tucked away off busy William Street in nearby Woolloomooloo is a hole in the wall bakery that you simply have to try.
Over my few visits this year (like I said, current-obsession) I’ve sampled the ‘Lemon Drizzle Cake’ (pure citrus heaven), the ‘Chocolate, buttermilk and raspberry cake’ (a chocoholics’ dream) and of course, their famous lamingtons. Injected with panacotta, they take the Aussie favourite to a whole new level and you’ll be hard-pressed going back to the traditional variety once you’ve tasted this baby. You have been warned.
|Hot tip: he Flour and Stone website is updated daily with ‘What we’re baking today’. Love that little touch to help with the decision process!|
Do you have any Darlinghurst tips to share? Add them in the comments below!
- Book your stay at one of the many 8Hotels around the globe here.