I am a huge fan of staycations. We don't always have the money to go on a lavish overseas holiday. A quick weekend away (or not so far away) works just as well to revitalise our spirits.
Last year I got the chance to stay at one of my absolute bucket list hotels - The Shangri-La Sydney. Knowing that The Shangri-La has some of the best views, amenities, and service, I was excited to live it up for a night in this amazing hotel.
The Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is located right in the heart of The Rocks. This area of the city is one of the oldest with sandstone buildings, cobblestone streets and a modern twist here and there.
Many of the rooms here have stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Alternatively, you get sweeping views of Darling Harbour and the city on the other side - something to marvel at, especially at night.
Before we checked in to start our staycation, we visited the infamous Morrison Bar & Oyster Room. These guys have $1 oysters and yummy burgers to enjoy and with a glass or pint of your favourite drink, how can you resist?
If Oysters and Burgers aren't tickling your fancy, there are a host of other restaurants, cafes and bars within stumbling distance of the hotel that you can enjoy. The hotel even has it's own restaurant and bar that you can experience, but more on those later.
The building hosts a number of rooms for all walks of life. All rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated.
We chose to stay in the Horizon Club Sydney Harbour Room, with views of the bridge and Opera House. The best part of the entire stay is the view from your room as the sun rises over the Opera House, lighting up the sky with pinks and oranges as you sit curled up in your cosy blanket. Even if you aren't a morning person, you need to wake up early for this.
It also came with the extra perks of the Horizon Club such as free breakfast, canapes, drinks and the coveted late checkout. Any extra time you can get to enjoy the full experience of the hotel is worth it.
The arrival at the Shangri-La Sydney is also one of the best I've ever had. The check-in is prompt and polite. Tip: even if you don't have a Horizon Club room, ask for a late checkout and they will do what they can to accommodate you.
Welcoming someone into your home is a pleasure, and Shangri-La Sydney do it well!
When you get to your room, what we found extra delightful was the welcome tea waiting for us, warm and delicious. It came with a small note. We learned providing tea on arrival is a symbol of welcoming guests and neighbours into your home. It is a way of showing respect to those visiting.
Safe to say this first interaction set the tone for our whole staycation.
The rooms also give you the option of a pillow ordering service, free wi-fi access, a TV and DVD system and access to the gym, pool, spa services and more offered within the building. There is a workspace too if you must work. It also comes with international plugs, so no need to worry about which cord goes where when setting up your space.
We wandered around the hotel for a while, checking out the pool and spa with a quick dip of our toes. The gym was right next door and had everything you might need to get your body moving. It was really spacious for a hotel gym!
We also looked at the spa offerings and was pretty tempted by the massage and facial. If I stayed here again I would definitely make the time to spend a couple of hours in that relaxing space.
Please take note: Blu Bar on 36 (the cocktail bar on level 36) will blow your socks off! This isn't an exaggeration.
This is the perfect place to watch the sunset while sipping on a drink or two. Head here before your dinner at Altitude restaurant. Just check sunset times before you go so you are prepared. It is busy, so get there about 30 minutes to an hour before the sun goes down.
The drinks can be a bit pricey, but when else do you get a view overlooking either Watson's Bay or Sydney Harbour with the bridge and Opera House, with an excellently made cocktail in hand.
Just sit back and relax with table service and super friendly and knowledgeable bar tenders catering to you as you watch the sun slowly lower beyond the horizon and the city change into a rainbow of colours before your eyes.
When the sun has set and you are ready for some food, head to Altitude restaurant. Located right next door to the bar, it also has great vantage point over the harbour.
We chose the 3 course menu and it was everything I hoped it to be and more. I wanted that dinner to last forever.
The views, the food, the wine, the service. For that time I got to feel what it's like to be in heaven and I still dream about it even now. (Am I exaggerating too much? I'm not sure.)
To be honest, I let the waiter pick my food for me so I couldn't even tell you what I had. Everything on the menu looked so amazing and I couldn't choose.
When ordering, I told him to chose for me which ever dish he thought I would like the most and he was spot on. If you like surprises, I highly recommend doing the same. I received food I probably wouldn't have picked on my own and this is my favourite way to do it.
We stayed to enjoy the lights twinkling over the city as we had another glass of wine. We really didn't want to leave.
It was a slow, satisfied walk back to our room after this. The night was perfect and the sleep would be the cherry on top. We left the curtains open and enjoyed the view as we drifted off.
I woke up early the next morning to enjoy the sunrise from our window. The city turned pink, orange and yellow as you could see the streets becoming busier below. It was a surreal feeling.
The previous day we had taken full advantage of the complimentary afternoon tea that was included with the Horizon Club rooms. With sushi, quiches, fruit, scones and so much more available, it was a great opportunity for a bite to eat before our drinks at Blu Bar.
With high expectations, we tore ourselves away from the view to head to breakfast.
Shangri-La Sydney have one of the best spreads for breakfast I have experienced. Bottomless coffee and tea, hot breakfast, cold breakfast - they have it all. I chose some scrambled eggs with avocado, bacon and toast.
The area in which they have the complimentary meals also has sweeping views of Sydney harbour (sensing a trend here?), so we stayed a little while longer and enjoyed the morning eating, sipping and chatting.
With our late checkout time approaching, we headed back to our room to pack up and that was that. One last snap of the view from the room and our 24 hours in Shangri-La Sydney was over.
After checking out, which was super simple and quick, we decided it would be an amazing opportunity to explore a bit more of the area. We hadn't left the hotel the whole time we were there.
You can check out the Opera House and The Royal Botanic Gardens - a beautiful, peaceful walk I highly recommend.
You should also have lunch at one of the many cafes around The Rocks - some of my favourites include Firestone Sydney, The Tea Cosy and Caminetto. You can also go for a drink and bite to eat at Opera Bar!
After this you can wander around the free exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art, or if you are there on the weekend, check out The Rocks markets.
There is literally so much going on around The Rocks and Circular Quay in Sydney that it is impossible to not have things to do.
To book a Shangri-La Sydney staycation (or vacation), check out booking.com - the cheapest rates and the latest info.
Thinking about booking a stay for your birthday? Check out my blog post on all the freebies you can get on your special day.